A Vision for Multi-ethnic Missions

Wilcrest Baptist Church is a Church of Nations.  Our mission vision is an expression of what God has uniquely equipped WBC to do with its diverse people, gifts, resources, and connections.  We hope to leverage what God has given us to Equip WBC and friends, Bridge to the World, and Strengthen the Global Church.

This three step process is designed for WBC to serve as a cultural broker.  As we "lean in" to the connections from within our church and community, our desire is to train up and connect a future generation of missionaries who are interested in learning and operating under this relational logic.  Relational logic looks like this: God has sent people from all over the world to our neighborhood, these people are from hospitable cultures and are still connected to family and friends, if we change our model of how to mobilize missionaries, we can tap into this global network of relational resources.


1: MISSION TRAINING

The Case Of “Not My Job”: Every day missions agencies receive dozens of applications from those who are seeking to follow God’s call.  Pastors write recommendation letters for these people even though they might be unaware if they are suitable for overseas life or will be an asset to a team.  In some instances, they might have some reservations about the people for whom they are writing these recommendations, but they believe that the agencies are equipped to identify and address these concerns.  As agencies review applications, they often have concerns about their applicants.  While people express a desire to obey God’s call, they are often in need of continued discipleship, counseling, and sometimes healing.   The agency might be willing to insist on a waiting period with some steps for growth, but then they look at the glowing letters of recommendation that these home church pastors have sent.  Surely the pastor knows this person better than they do, so perhaps they are just misreading this person...


We Commit:

We commit to providing and requiring training for local teams, short-term trips, and long-term missionaries   


How we do this

WBC has a long tradition of providing training for our mission trips.  Some of the recent examples of these trainings are Kingdom of Power Kingdom of Fear, God’s Global Kingdom, City of God, and World Culture Tours.

2: MISSION INTERNSHIP

Jesus and the disciples focused on raising new leaders.  They had little interest in simply increasing the number of followers they had.  Paul instructs one of his young leaders in 2 Tim 2:2 to entrust what he had heard from Paul “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  This prescription identifies four generations of leaders—Paul--Timothy--“faithful men”--who will teach “others”


We Commit:

We commit to raising new leaders through hands-on, training opportunities.


How we do this:

  • WBC has a number of active mission teams including Alief Community Fútbol Club, ESL classes, and outreach teams that focus on specific people groups.
  • WBC has an internship program that trains and connects missionaries to move abroad.


3: MISSION TEAMS

An old Arab Proverb says, “choose your friends before you choose your journey.”  They understood that who you were traveling with would limit or expand where you could go.  The Bible affirms the importance of teams: 

  • Solomon says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!  And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” 
  • Jesus follows this principle when he sent his disciples out ahead of him in Luke 10.  He sent them two-by two into towns where he was about to visit.
  • Finally, the early church, by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, designated teams to go.  In Acts 13:2-3, it says: “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.

We Commit

We commit to building teams to engage strategic needs and opportunities.


How we do this:

In a similar way, our outreach ministries are not merely projects that need volunteers and commitments; they are mission teams.  These two words, mission and team, mean that first, there is a purpose to what we do.  We are purposed to fulfill the great commission.  Second, it describes how we will accomplish this purpose: in teams.


4: GATHER strategic teams of people.

 An African Proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”  God does not always share our modern sense of efficiency and he has ordained that the world be won through the preaching of the gospel, and that these preachers be sent out, and the ones that are sent be trained.  It would be faster to simply accomplish the mission by ourselves, but this is not what God has ordained.  We are responsible to grow and edify the body of Christ.  This is a “go together” kind of mission.


We Commit:

We are committed to understanding our diverse church body, recognizing gifts, affirming callings, and developing talents. 


How we do this:

One example of this in our church body is the COCAMA Project.  This project focuses on training for pastors from the Amazon and is now reaching a half-dozen tribes from roughly 500 miles of river.  Our church has been poised for a long time to participate in a unique opportunity like this because the development of our Spanish ministry here and the gifted teachers that God has blessed Wilcrest with.  We want to take this same approach and intentionally develop new teams, with new purposes and skills, to reach new people groups.


5: CONNECT to Houston's global community.

Many countries in the world are making it harder and harder to get a missionary visa and stay in the country long term.  At the same time, God is sending the nations to Houston.  Currently 1 in 4 Houstonians is foreign born.  Working in our city not only has an impact here, but it can have an impact overseas. 


Take for example Bob.  He is interested in going to Qumar* with a missions organization.  He is still a few years away from being able to leave.  When he heard about the idea of starting at home and using those connections to get an invitation, he decided to give it a try.  In a conversation with a Qumari man named Abdul, he explained his idea about starting an agricultural project among the refugees who were living in Qumar*.  Abdul loved this idea but didn’t know how he could help.  He was prompted to think about people he might know in Qumar* who could help Bob find the right connections.  When he started thinking about his connections, he remembered that he was connected to the man who was the former interim president of a neighboring country and would have all of the right connections and good advice about how to start a project like this in Qumar*.


We Commit:

We commit to begin projects and partnership at home from the connections within our diverse church body and community.


How we do this:

The church at Antioch was the first multi-ethnic church.  Paul and Barnabas spent a year ministering there before the church sent them out.  As Paul went throughout the world, doors were open to him in every city where he went.  Perhaps he was received so readily, even when he had a reputation of persecuting the church, because he was following family connections from Antioch back to their hometown.  In Acts 17:26-27 Paul teaches that God has established where people live and when they live so that they will seek him.  Many of the early mission trips at Wilcrest, as the church was making the multi-ethnic transition, followed this pattern of our international members leading the church back to their home countries.  


6: MOBILIZE outside missionaries through local connections.

An African-based mission agency called CAPRO is trying to get a team of its Nigerian missionaries into South America.  Up until this point they have primarily focused on sending missionaries to Africa, but as there are now many Africans living in the West, they are trying to mobilize, train, and send these missionaries to other countries.  Imagine a partnership model, where we could invite groups like this CAPRO team to Wilcrest.  Our role in the partnership would be to connect them to our South American members, to train them in language and culture, then connect them to people in South America and send them out.  How many other countries are we connected to where we can serve as cultural brokers to those trying to move overseas?


We Commit:

We commit to incorporating others of like faith into our teams, connecting them through our network, and sending them to the world.


How we do this:

This model of mobilization allows us to see kingdom purpose with every person that we meet.  It adds value to every person at WBC, and every connection that they make.  It builds on what we are doing locally and allows us to connect what we are doing to the world.


7: Partner

One of the challenges of short-term mission trips is trying to hit the target of sustained impact.  These trips are often expensive, but they may not be as effective as we would like with regards to lasting results.  It is important to partner with people who are going to stay long term.  It is not enough for us to use our gifts and do the work; we must find people who we can equip to continue the work.


Ephesians 4:11-12 says, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 


Wilcrest is a global church and we have received so many believers from around the world.  Global partnership and support is one way that we can bless the nations.


We Commit: 

We commit to partner with and through local churches throughout the world, as such partnership is necessary for sustained impact.


How we do this:

Several years ago, WBC formed a partnership with a church planter in Poland.  WBC sent several short-term teams, sent a husband/wife team for two summers, and then sent two families to work in Poland.  Gospel church is now a fully functioning, healthy church that is now growing and starting to plant another church.  These kinds of partnerships take the otherwise disconnected points of contact that we have in the region and carry that work forward to a completed goal.


8: DISCIPLE

Ephesians 4:13-14 Says, "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.


God’s plan to appoint church leaders is not an end in and of itself.  The goal is maturity; the goal is discipleship.  In fact, “make disciples” is the first command of the great commission in Matthew 28:19  Jesus commands three things, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.



We Commit:

We commit to focusing our partnerships on long-term discipleship.  Our projects and partnerships have the long-term maturity of believers as the goal.


How we do this:

Our participation in the COCAMA Project is intended to disciple the disciple-makers.  Many short-term trips have been too quick to go and evangelize without partnering with locals for long term impact and this has left a theological void as pastors do not have sufficient training.  We are working with two other Houston-based churches, two different Peruvian mission organizations, and dozens of local pastors so that we will see them mature in their faith.


9: WALK TOGETHER

The history of missions is full of examples of outsiders using their money and power to control locals.  The outside missionaries took a position of superiority and power that crippled the national churches.  Paul says in Philippians 2:2-3 “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  He goes on to say in Ephesians 4:15-16 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”


We Commit:

We commit to walk together in mutuality with these partners to further God's Kingdom.


How we do this:

This final commitment is designed to leave the conversation and the journey open.  We do not place ourselves or our strategies in a seat of superiority, but we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of Brothers and Sisters in Christ to lead us to new places, new projects, and new partnerships.


Videos

Check out the videos below to see the various presentations that relate to the a vision for multi-ethnic missions.

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