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InterACTION - November 2017 Mobilizing The Next Generation of Missionaries

By Thomas Slawson

“That woman sitting over there is crying,” I said. Anna turned around, taking a quick glance. “Do you think we should talk to her?” she asked. “Maybe you should approach her first,” I suggested. Anna walked over to her, “Are you okay?” The woman wiped the tears from her eyes, and with a thick accent said “No English, only Russian.” Anna motioned to me, I said a quick prayer, scooted my chair over to the lady’s table and prepared to switch my mind into translator mode.

Anna is a senior at Moody Bible Institute (MBI) in Chicago and spent this past summer in Russia as part of our EnGage! team. I had the privilege of meeting her when I was there for two weeks visiting the field. This October I represented InterAct during MBI’s missions conference, connected with Anna to see how she was doing and to debrief a little about her summer. She suggested we take a short trip to a Slavic section of the city to try out a bakery where we could get some authentic Russian food. It was there that God opened up the door to meet this lady, hear her story, and hopefully start a relationship with her that will lead to a lasting impact in her life.

For an hour we sat and listened to her story, one that’s filled with lots of sadness and grief–far too long to share here. But in the end we tried our best to offer some words of comfort and point her to the Lord. When Anna offered to exchange phone numbers, the lady was confused. “But you don’t speak Russian!” she said. I translated that for Anna, and we both smiled. Just an hour earlier I was with Anna back at the campus when she just happened to meet another MBI student there who was a native Russian speaker. They had exchanged numbers and planned to start getting together. We told the lady about Anna’s new friend, and her face brightened. “Oh, that’s so wonderful. I just don’t have anyone to talk to.”

Say the word “mobilization” around missions people and the first thing that comes to mind is usually “recruitment.” And while it is that, it’s so much more. When our InterAct mobilizers visit campuses and represent the mission at conferences, we certainly are working to get the word out about opportunities to make disciples among the least-reached peoples of the North Pacific Crescent. But the potential for making an impact goes far beyond simply gathering a list of names and checking a box if they send in an application.

One definition of “mobilize” is to “organize and prepare for action.” The action here being workers going out into the harvest. It’s oftentimes used in a military context to speak of an army “mobilizing for battle.” There’s planning, preparation, equipping, strategizing, etc. And with Scripture reminding us again and again that we are engaged in spiritual warfare, it’s an appropriate term to use.

Frequently our mission mobilizers encounter students that are looking for as much guidance, advice and wisdom as they can. They’re passionate to serve the Lord and want to be faithful to him, but are wrestling with questions like, “Where is God calling me to serve? Am I ready to go? Will I be able to raise my support?” and some even ask, “Should I marry the person I’m dating now?” While we always take the time to share with these students the opportunities we have at InterAct, we also strongly desire to build relationships with them. We have coffee with them or take them out for a meal, email them and call them on the phone. We connect with them on Facebook and listen to their concerns and struggles. We pray with them.

In the midst of this relationship amazing things can happen. I think about the door God opened for me and Anna to speak with the Russian lady at the bakery and all of the circumstances that had to line up for us to meet at that providential moment. It’s a poignant reminder that God is in control. And it also illustrates the importance of building genuine relationships with students as we’re mobilizing. Had it merely been about trying to get a student to join our mission, we would have missed sharing that amazing opportunity.

Recently the leadership of InterAct Ministries, along with several key people involved in mobilization for the mission met at our U.S. Office in Oregon to discuss the future of our mission and to identify key needs. For InterAct to both maintain and expand our work in Russia, Alaska and Canada, we need more missionaries. As a result of this meeting we are prayerfully implementing some strategies that we hope will help us be more effective in the work of mobilizing the next generation of missionaries. As the Lord has blessed our mission with sixty-six years of service, it is our hope and prayer that He will send us more workers in the harvest who will continue to work in the fields for the next sixty-six years.

InterACTION is a monthly publication of InterAct Ministries

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