The first three months of our time at Shiloh have passed, and boy have they been busy! We’ve been teaching and preaching, fellowshipping, mentoring, praying, planning, plotting (just kidding), and preparing. Some accomplishments are more tangible than others, though, and I’d like to give an update on one of them. For the past two months we have been planning, dreaming, and praying about forming the Shiloh Mission Support Team and have already had two meetings! For those of you who aren’t sure what a Mission Support Team is or what they do, that’s okay--I really didn’t know myself until we started this process. Let me share our process with you.
When we made the decision back in June to move to Tyler we came up with a few big picture goals: obtain ministry experience, form a missions policy, form a missions committee, form a relationship with church body, and obtain a 5 year commitment from the church. Two of these goals-- obtaining experience and forming relationships-- are ongoing processes, and I think they are going pretty well. Two of these I can say are accomplished. As you will read in more detail elsewhere, Shiloh Road has joined Cedar Lane in committing to support the work in Arequipa for at least 5 years! As a team we feel incredible joy at having both of our home churches support us. God is good! Our other completed task is that of forming what we have come to call our Missions Support Team.
A lot of thought and prayer went into this project before we got started. While one of the responsibilities of the support team will be to recruit new members at need, it fell to us to draft the initial group. We asked seventeen people, from high school up, to prayerfully consider being a part of this group, and after a time of consideration twelve came back saying they wanted to join.
We are humbled by their desire to serve not us but the church in this role, and are grateful for their dedication to God’s mission. We have already met twice with this group, and projects are getting underway. Committee leaders have already been chosen for some, with more to follow.
Some of the projects that the group has started working on include the formation of a standing missions policy, planning an Peruvian Cuisine Dinner night, developing a regular “Missions Moment” for Sunday mornings, and preparing for our sendoff in February. The Support Team will also be our primary contact while in the field. Anything we need of the church will be asked through this group, with the knowledge that they will take it from there. The reverse is also true in that communication from the sending church will be funneled through the Support Team to us in Peru. By having dedicated advocates of the mission stateside, we hope to maintain a high level of awareness throughout the congregation.
I purposefully used the term “advocate,” because its meaning (to support or speak in favor of) really resonates with me. This Support Team will support us with their time, thoughts, prayers, actions and words. They will be the first to send us birthday cards or care packages. They will organize trips to visit and encourage us, and arrange for our needs when we return on furlough to visit and encourage them. They will be our advocates at Shiloh Road; they will be our coworkers. We thank God for them and hope that you will join us in prayer for their tasks and decisions. May God bless their ministry to Peru and the church.