Valuable Insight To Longterm Missions In UK And Ireland
If you are planning to work in Ireland and the UK, then it would be fantastic to have some insight from individuals, pastors and missionaries who have served Christ in those areas for a long period of time. Well, I am personally a product of missions to both Ireland and the UK, two separate missionary families have been instrumental to my present walk with Christ. I was led to the Lord by Pastor Frank Thompson, he and his wife Marje, both have been serving in the Lord in UK for decades and, praise the Lord, they are still serving today. Frank is from Maine, USA and Marje is from Florida, USA. Pastor Thompson explained the gospel to me in the kitchen of my house at the age of 12, it was Tuesday, 14 March 1989. I remember the day like it was yesterday, it was the first time I had a clear understanding of the gospel of Christ and I trusted Christ that night! The Lord also used the Snode family in Ireland to help lead me to full-time ministry, it was through their hard work that they planted a church in Derry/Londonderry, which I now pastor.
I will go into more details in a later post about how missions to Ireland and the UK shaped and transformed my life through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Until then, please enjoy this amazing insight from Pastor Frank Thompson, as he answers a series of questions about what he has learned over the years serving the Lord in the UK.
What are the greatest challenges/dangers to Christianity in the UK?
(1). Being relevant to a society that has replaced God with science, evolution and atheism.
(2). Being involved and in contact with people so they know that we care about them and are aware of their daily problems.
(1). Losing a vision to keep Christ first in our lives and church.
(2). Losing a vision and love for lost souls.
(3). Being so busy we can’t see the first two dangers as they are occurring.
What are the greatest challenges/dangers to pastors/church planters in the UK?
(1). Staying close to the Lord in prayer, walk and obedience to God’s call on our lives.
(2). Studying and building ourselves up in faith with God’s Word.
(3). Seeking God’s will for ourselves and our church.
b. Dangers: (Neglect above challenges.)
What reasons for optimism do you see for churches and church planters in the UK?
a. We are empowered by God’s call into the ministry.
b. We are empowered by Christ and His delegated Authority. (Matt. 28:18)
c. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness for Christ. (Acts 1:8)
d. We are empowered by God’s Word, which is a power in and of itself. (Hebrews 4:12)
e. Since we have all this power, and the door of God’s service is still open, then we have no choice but to be optimistic on how God is going to use us.
What advice would you give to missionaries coming into the country?
a. Try to get to know the culture so you can better understand the people.
b. Try to live within the financial means of the people you are working with, rather than way above them.
c. Be willing to accept the fact that it takes time to build relationships and the ministry, so don’t expect to have the same results you might have in your own country.
d. Be patient: (With the Lord and with people.)
What advice would you give to young men interested in the ministry?
a. Be a volunteer to help anywhere in the church, even cleaning it.
b. Be a helper in Sunday School, Teens, Children, Bible clubs and see where your gifts and talents are most used.
c. Be aware that God calls active workers in the church to serve Him in other ministries of the church. (Acts 13:1-4)
What would you say to some people who feel that the spiritual condition of the UK is beyond hope?
a. If they are an English person, I would ask them, “Were you beyond hope when you got saved?”
b. If they were a missionary, I would ask them, “If you were called of God to come to the UK, does He think the UK is beyond hope?”
What encouragement would you give to someone who was discouraged and felt like giving up on the work?
a. I’d try to find out the cause for the discouragement: people, rejection, lack of fruit in the ministry, feelings of failure, disappointments, etc.
b. Then share Scriptures like Isaiah 40:28-31, Hebrews 11:1-40 to let them know that what they are experiencing is common to all men/women of God.
c. Pray with them and offer to help them in the areas that are causing discouragement.
d. Share with them how I dealt with and overcame similar discouragement.
What religious, or even secular, groups/cults should someone be prepared to interact with in this region of the UK?
a. I realise that being prepared to take on such religious groups and cults would require hours of study and work, most of us don’t have.
b. But being prepared by knowing what these cults and groups teach concerning Jesus Christ and the Scriptures is usually enough to proclaim the doctrinal truth of God’s Word to point out their false teaching.
What would you say is the big standout thing God has taught you or you have learned in ministry on reflection?
a. Not to be in a hurry to see people be saved or changed.
b. Wait on God to do His work that I could never do, nor am I expected to do.
c. Example: John 16:8-14, As much as I might have tried in the past to do the work of the Holy Spirit, I cannot. (When I have tried, ignorantly, all I succeeded to do was make a sinner angry or have them slam the door in my face.)