The latest issue of The Standard Bearer (Sept.1, 2015) contains an editorial by Prof.R. Dykstra in which he addresses the importance of church members taking interest in the mission work of the churches. While this interest certainly includes financial and prayer support for the fields, Prof. Dykstra specifically encourages us to visit the mission fields, which means visiting with the missionary and his family as well as fellowshiping with the members of the field.
He has many good and profitable points in this opening editorial (a following one on this subject is also planned and will appear in the Sept.15 “SB”.). Below are a few of his general comments related to visiting your mission fields:
The goal of this editorial (and the next) is to encourage the members of the Protestant Reformed Churches to visit your mission fields. The Protestant Reformed Churches have missionaries preaching in two areas – Pittsburgh, PA, and in the Philippines. A visit to our some of the smaller churches is included in this goal. Readers who are not members of the Protestant Reformed Churches should know you are cordially welcome to do the same, and the editorial intends to encourage you also to visit a mission work of the PRC, or a mission field of your own church(es).
Visiting a mission field is to be encouraged because of the many benefits it yields both for the field and for the visitors. This was reaffirmed recently in another connection. This past summer five seminarians had opportunity to live for three to six weeks on a mission field (or a small congregation in a mission-like situation, Spokane Covenant of Grace P.R.C. of Spokane, WA). All the students returned aglow with enthusiasm for the work being done, for the saints they came to know and love, and for the worship they enjoyed in these places. Likewise the reports from the fields/congregation expressed appreciation for the visits and labors of the students.
Obviously the longer the visit, the greater will be the mutual benefits. But even a one-Sunday visit is usually better than no visit at all.
From here, Prof. Dykstra treats some of the specific benefits of visiting mission fields:
What, specifically are the potential benefits of a visit to a mission field, (or a small congregation with a good mission outreach mentality)?
For the people on the field, the benefit is first and foremost, encouragement. This includes a boost in the attendance at the worship services in the day, weeks, or months you attend. Probably only members of small congregations will fully appreciate this point, and yet, do not we even in large congregations enjoy visitors to the worship services? But in a small group, to have additional voices in the singing and confession of faith, more chairs filled, more fellowship before and after the service, add an unmistakable vivacity to the service. The benefits are perhaps difficult to quantify, but they are real.
In addition, the mission group is encouraged by your interest in them and in the work. Your presence indicates to them that the churches are aware of them and are behind the work, not merely the calling church, consistory, and mission committee. For the same reasons, your visit also encourages the missionary greatly. He can at times feel quite alone and forgotten in the work, far from family, from the calling church, and from the center of the churches’ life. Your visit reminds him that he and the work are both remembered and supported by the churches as a whole.
To learn more about the Standard Bearer or to become a subscriber, visit the “SB” website.