The Role of a Sender
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” – Acts 13:2-3
“What will you be doing on your mission trip to Zambia?” Last year, when I was preparing to go to Kwathu Children’s Home, that was the question on many friends’ tongues. “We are painting and laying tile in the administrative office,” I would answer, or “We are going to Kwathu Children’s Home to encourage the children and staff, and bring back pictures to share to raise support.” Have you ever wondered how God would answer that question? Our Father’s plan is so much bigger, and His purposes impact both the mission and the missionaries. Why did God send our team last year to Kwathu Children’s Home? With every passing day I learn more and more answers to that question, and see His plan in this little corner of the ministry coming to fruition.
One way God worked so greatly in that trip came to fruition this month, when my good friend and fellow team member, Rebekah Lowrey, traveled to Zambia to spend a year serving and teaching at Kwathu Children’s Home. Before she traveled to Kwathu with us last year, she could never imagine committing to a full year of ministry overseas, but God had other plans, working in her heart through so many moments and so many prayers. Her story is not mine to tell, but you can read it by clicking here. When God called Rebekah to ministry at Kwathu Children’s Home, He exposed another part of how He used our trip… to prepare me and the rest of the Kwathu team, along with her friends and family to be her senders. As God led me through the trip, and this past year in helping send Rebekah and advocate for Kwathu Children’s Home, He has taught me some very important lessons about being a sender.
- The responsibilities of a sender are as diverse and essential as those of the “goer,” or the missionary, and just as with the missionary, each sender has a different role.
Rebekah’s trip has so many perfect examples of this. One friend gathered together a playlist of music to encourage Rebekah on her journey, and played the guitar on the last Monday prayer night before she left for Zambia. One family gave her a place to stay during the time between her lease expiring for her apartment, and her trip. Other friends helped her with her visa work, travel plans, and fundraising. Supporters gave financially to her ministry to make it possible. Her family encouraged her and gave her their blessing. Her church raised money for her trip and allowed her to speak to the congregation on a Sunday morning. Her friends from work were a constant encouragement, too. Many wrote letters for her to take and read along the way, and friends even made her favorite meal for her a few nights before she departed. God used senders to provide every need, calm every worry, and encourage Rebekah to follow God’s will for her.
- God asks that the love and support of a sender extends much further than the missionary, it also extends to the ministry.
In Rebekah’s case, senders offered provision for the needs of the Kwathu children and staff. Friends and families gathered together items needed for the Kwathu children, including clothes, school supplies, and other household items. The photos taken during my trip to Kwathu last year were printed, and albums were bought to give children photos for them to enjoy their memories from our trip. In the end, six tubs were packed to the airline’s weight limit with supplies to show God’s love for the children at Kwathu. Praise the Lord!!
- For the Kwathu team that visited last year with Rebekah, God showed us that the experiences and wisdom that we gained traveling with Rebekah to Kwathu, and the gifts and talents we used on the trip, gave us an important role in sending Rebekah.
God gave us stories we shared with her, inside jokes we laughed together at, nicknames, and songs to encourage her and remind her of our shared memories at Kwathu. God gave us all special ways we could use our talents to contribute to God’s calling to Rebekah, too. For example, the role God gave me was in looking over and editing articles and social media posts, helping her prepare presentations for her church, praying and helping pack tubs of donated items for the children for Rebekah to bring. For all of my teammates and me, it also includes continued prayer for her, and preparation for when she returns. God equipped each of us in unique ways to support Rebekah and support Kwathu, and used each of us accordingly.
- A sender’s work isn’t finished when the missionary enters the field, it has only begun.
So many members of the body of Christ worked together to make it possible for Rebekah to follow God’s calling, and for the Kwathu kiddos to be blessed with a new house mama! But now, Rebekah is in the field, ministering to those kids, and the rest of the Highlands community of Zambia. Does that mean our role as senders has come to an end? Far from it! God still calls us to prayer for her and the Kwathu family, and to be advocates and supporters for Kwathu Children’s Home and its mission. We as senders now must pray for ways to encourage her and the staff at Kwathu, and even pray about how we can be active participants in the ministry of Kwathu Children’s Home. A sender’s work isn’t finished when the missionary enters the field, it has only begun. God is still working, and still blessing us with opportunities to be a part of His work.
So what did God do on our team’s trip to Zambia last year? It was a lot more than painting walls and laying tile. He called one of His servants to invest a year of their life to the orphaned and the vulnerable. He introduced this servant’s calling to an army of senders, teaching them of the incredible ways God is working through Kwathu Children’s Home. He used them to provide for the needs of both Rebekah and the children at Kwathu. He taught and equipped my teammates and me to be senders for Rebekah, and advocates for Kwathu. And now, as Rebekah serves in Zambia and her senders serve in the U.S. in God’s name, God used this trip in bringing the Gospel to the nations. To everyone who is a part of the Kwathu family, and Rebekah’s army of senders, we are so thankful for you following God’s call to you in these ministries. May we continue to seek His will in our lives, as He continues to reveal His plan to us.” – Michael Kline, The Missions and Media Guy