An interview with Paul Selby, Missions Team Leader at LifeChange / Weymouth Church in Medina, Ohio.
When did you first hear the idea of supporting native missionaries as they carry the gospel to their own people groups?
I read K.P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions book, which changed my thinking on missions quite a bit. The whole concept made more sense than missions I had been familiar with, where we’d send Westerners to unreached peoples to learn new languages and cultures.
Today we’re in a different era, and there are so many people to reach and not many resources with which to reach them. Sending indigenous workers out who are already familiar with the language and who can already relate to people is a great idea.
Why are you interested in India specifically?
Well, I haven’t been there myself, but the Bible says we have to go to the “ends of the earth!” It seems like God is really moving there, raising up church planters, expanding His kingdom into previously unreached areas. From things I’ve read, this is right where the action is!
As the missions team leader at your local church in Ohio, what kind of response do you get when you talk about native missionaries?
Most people are receptive to it, even if they haven’t really thought about it before. When you think of how many native missionaries you can support as a church, compared to the costly nature of sending Americans overseas, its hard not to like the plan. I’m not all about the dollars, but there is a sense in which we have to be a good steward of all that God has given us. There are some specific fields where we need missionaries from America to be sent out, but the overall work of completing the Great Commission is going to be done by people within unreached cultures. God has set this up wonderfully: they need financial help to give their lives to share the gospel, and over here in the West God has blessed us abundantly - it is neat bridge relationship. We can pray for each other and share with them, and it is a win-win. I have never heard negative feedback from people in the church about this.
What helps church members get excited about the Great Commission?
I hope they read their Bibles – the Commission is commanded by Jesus in all four gospels, plus Acts! We have to take the command seriously to make disciples everywhere, across town and to the ends of the earth. We have had Family Mission Nights and Mission Focus Sundays to raise awareness, and we have guest speakers come in to give updates and to cast vision frequently. We’ve made missions a core part of our church budget, our church plans, and our pastors preach about it regularly. We also participate in an hosting ministry for international students at local universities, which gives our congregation some real ministry to people from other cultures, which can deepen their excitement and their burden to reach faraway nations.
What advice would you give a missions director at a church who is just getting started, as far as global outreach is concerned?
I would encourage them to look at native missions, at an organization like India Gospel League. There are such huge needs, and a comparatively small amount of money can make a fantastic difference over there. Most people in America have at least the option to hear the gospel if they wanted to, but in places like India there are still millions without any access to the Good News. Encouraging support and prayer for native missionaries in your church is a strong first step that will make an eternal difference, and it will connect your congregation to the most spiritually-needy parts of the world!