A couple of months ago, I got a call from Rick H,a local man who is a missionary to Africa. He and his wife have been supported by our congregation (mostly, if not all, by the Sunday School classes), and since they're home for a year, they wanted to do a presentation in our church.
I signed them up for this week and decided that it would be "Mission Emphasis Sunday" -- so we had special bulletin covers and featured a couple of missions that our church does (including Shirley, who gave a ministry moment on the Midwest Mission Distribution Center in Chatham, Illinois, and a prayer request/thank you from Mindy, who does prison ministry (and is "in prison" as I type).
Someone told me during the week that he thought Rick was a boring speaker and a downer. So I was worried. I prayed and I fretted. I wondered if I should even have invited him. I wondered if I should have consulted the Ad Board first -- after all, many of them knew him.
The morning came (after a rough night with sick family members), and we ran around like headless chickens trying to get everything set up (they were doing a PowerPoint presentation in Sunday School and showing a DVD in worship), and it didn't help that I hadn't talked to the Sunday School people about what was going on.
In the end, I shouldn't have worried. The presentations were great. Rick wasn't an over-optimist or a braggart (the kind who try to inflate what they are doing), but rather, he was a realist -- he didn't make up stuff or make their results sound better than they were. The truth is that the area where they are ministering is nearly 100% Muslim, and it's hard work. Just the available technology makes things tough (like washing clothes with a washboard and/or a wringer). And the Muslims aren't a necessarily easy people to evangelize.
But the point wasn't how hard they have things and how easy we have them. No, the point was to be faithful, to trust God, and to wait. It isn't easy to wait for God, especially as Americans; we want to see results, and we want them NOW! In our world of instantaneous everything, wait is a four-letter word.
We got to experience a little of the "wait" as I really tried to pack too much into the service. We had: puppets, ministry moment (Distribution Center), Epiphany Prison Ministry moment, DVD presentation, prayer time, songs (I didn't cut any songs, though I did have us sing verses 1 & 4 of the closing hymn instead of the whole thing, probably saving us 45 seconds), offerings (I didn't forget them this week), and sermon. It was kind of like my first Sunday in the pulpit here, but without the Sidney Singing Soldiers.
And I thought Rick and Monica did a great job.
For discussion: what do you think makes for a good missionary presentation?