Missions and Transition March 11, 2021
The ideas of transition and change are often anxiety-inducing. Change and transition often bring us to a place of uncertainty, and it can be easy to believe that the need to transition has been caused by a failure of some kind. However, what if the need to transition is a sign of health? What if transition is a symptom of obedience? In his sermon titled “Missions: The Cycle of Transition,” Pastor Don teaches about the cycle of transition that comes with serving on mission. In this sermon we learn that transition isn’t an occasional occurrence in living on mission, but is rather a sign of a healthy and growing mission field.
The cycle of missions has four parts: The call to go on mission, reaching out to those who have not heard the gospel, training up new believers in Christ, and then sending those who have been trained out to the mission field.
What is the most interesting about idea of the transition cycle is how the cycle then repeats. For those on mission, their missionary journey is not complete once disciples have been trained up and sent out on missions of their own. In fact, that is when gospel work begins again. In this cycle of transition, after a church has been built up and leaders have been raised, it is then time for the missionaries to hand over the church to new leadership and for them to begin a new cycle of missions—answering the Lord’s call to go to those who have not heard the gospel. When we are obedient and when our mission is healthy, even more people are reached by the gospel—both from the original missionaries, and from those who have been trained by them.
In his sermon, Pastor Don gives 3 examples of this—one from Scripture, and two from Westover’s own missionaries. The first is the example of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13. Paul and Barnabas answer the Lord’s call in obedience to go to the unreached people in Salamis. There they are able to preach the gospel, lead people to Christ, and raise up leaders in the church of Salamis. And what do they do next? They obeyed the Lord’s call to go to the next group that needed to hear the gospel. They passed the church off to the leaders they had raised, and they followed where the Lord was leading.
This story sounds very similar to that of Westover’s own David and Mary Harrop. Before David became Westover’s Global Ministries Pastor, he and Mary answered the Lord’s call to be missionaries in France. There they were able to plant a church, raise up believers and leaders in Christ, and when the time came and the church was healthy enough, they were able to pass the church to local leaders who in turn raised new leaders and missionaries, and the Harrop family was able to answer the Lord’s call elsewhere. Go. Reach. Train. Send. Repeat.
For the Parker family, this transition process looks slightly different. Westover-sponsored missionaries Rick and Kim Parker obeyed the Lord’s call to preach the gospel in the river villages along the Amazon in Brazil. After establishing a flourishing bible school centered on sending missionaries to the river communities, the Parkers themselves moved hundreds of miles away to begin a riverboat ministry. This ministry created a floating seminary—a school based on their boat that brought the gospel where it was most needed. Their ministry allows them to constantly go, reach, train, send, and move on to repeat the process.
Go. Reach. Train. Send. Serving the Lord on mission is a constant state of transition. Rather than something to be dreaded, change and transition on the mission field is something that should be celebrated. This cycle of transition in ministry allows more and more disciples to be made. Even if we do not feel that we ourselves are being called to serve the Lord as missionaries, we can support this work in many ways including monetarily, through prayer, and through the personal support of missionaries. This is our great commission.
“Missions is not fully missions until those to whom we go and share the gospel are committed to going and sharing the gospel.” - Pastor Don Miller