To Send or Not to Send?

We talk with President of Frontiers USA, Bob Blincoe. Bob will shed light on whether or not churches should still be sending missionaries to unreached.

Join Ted and Matthew as they discuss “To Send or Not to Send?” with guest Bob Blincoe.

Transcript
(unedited)
welcome
to the mission matters the mission
matters is a partnership of mission
nexus
and 1615 missions coaching who have a
shared passion to mobilize god’s people
to be a part of his mission the mission
matters is hosted by matthew ellison of
1615 missions coaching
and ted essler president of mission
nexus
scanning the globe for people groups
that are unreached we find
ourselves gazing through what’s been
named the 1040 window
located in the western hemisphere
between 10 and 40 degrees
north of the equator encompassing parts
of africa the middle east and europe
is a population nearly unreached by the
gospel
bob blinko wants to change that us
director of frontiers the international
ministry organization
sending teams of ordinary christians for
long-term service in the muslim world
today we talk with bob about reaching
the middle east
frontiers and even his favorite suit on
the mission matters here’s matthew
ted and bob lincol to discuss whether or
not churches
should still be sending missionaries to
the unreached
welcome once again to the mission
matters podcast i am matthew ellison
joined as always by my good friend and
co-host ted estler ted how are you doing
today
doing well how are you man this is round
two people don’t know but we just
recorded a podcast prior to this so
hopefully we have stamina
yeah plus i kicked my cat out of the
room so he’s not going to try to
flop his tail in front of the camera
yeah if you watched our last podcaster
listen to it ted’s cat showed up
in the podcast yeah yeah great
hey listen ted um this is a surprise
question today i didn’t even tell you
about it but i know you’re a bit of an
amateur chef and cook
maybe more than that you’re pretty
skilled and it’s something i also love
to do
i’d like to know your favorite food to
prepare your favorite food to cook
maybe eat as well but what’s your
favorite thing to prepare
well i’ll tell you it it took me many
attempts to get it to where i feel like
i can really make this well
but i have finally been able to make
beef brisket
on the it’s it’s like a big green egg
it’s a kamado grill
um we do it over about 26 hours and uh
it’s so fun because it it just it tastes
just like it does in a good smokehouse
and you know it took a long time to
prepare that’s one of them i got a
couple of them but we’ll stop with that
well that’s interesting one of my
favorite things to do is use my smoker
as well
and i’ve been working about 15 years on
perfecting the pork shoulder
the boston butt as it’s known in the
cooking world which is the butt end of
the shoulder by the way
and so it’s a very fatty piece of meat i
do a southern style preparation
i will brine it in molasses and salt
usually for about 24 hours then i do a
rub
and then i smoke it with mosquito
hickory for about 16 18 hours
but the key is to serve it with a
mustard based barbecue sauce
not the ketchup based barbecue sauce so
ted i’m gonna have to make it for you
sometime
i’m i’m in you know what to convince me
to
try that out well we have a guest today
of course
uh bob blinko is with us and uh bob
we’re gonna put that same question to
you and then have you introduce yourself
is there something you like to cook wow
yeah thanks i uh i like to cook a shrimp
soup that i
first tasted in bangkok when my wife and
i lived there 40 years ago
and uh now that you can find the uh the
curry here in the united states we like
to
we like to cook this uh this shrimp soup
tom yum
it’s called is the word for shrimp and
tom yum is a soup
and now you can get the cilantro and put
it in it really does take you back to uh
the days of thailand and it sounds
really good too
yeah so bob uh let’s just kind of start
things out could you tell people
that are listening who you are what do
you do and what your role is
in this huge community in the great
commission
i’m bob blinko and my wife is jan we
have three grown children
we uh sold our possessions and moved
overseas to the middle east in
1990 uh by the lord’s providence we were
the first missionary family to live in
iraq
in the 1990s and uh
then in the year 2000 i became a
director of frontiers in
the united states at us any base and i’m
president of frontiers at this time
so uh what a great uh privilege to be
part of the great effort to bring the
hope of jesus christ to some of the
least and last peoples of the world
amen to that and our listeners should
know that bob is one of our plenary
speakers
for upcoming uh mission x’s virtual
conference the mission leaders
conference
and um i’ve heard a couple of the other
plenaries bob then the bar set pretty
high brother so we’ll see how you do
there
so ted i’m going to do a plug for you
guys here if people aren’t registered
how do they register
i just go to mseonexis.org and look for
focus 2020 spotlight i’ll just i’ll tell
you
we have this speaker from the uk her
name is kate coleman
and um she addresses
a wide swath of issues that we’re facing
globally not covet related but
social justice related and how that
impacts the great commission
and what i really like about her talk is
it’s very easy for us to have a
provincial view of these
issues when we live in the us and she
brings
a i wouldn’t even call it a uk
perspective
she brings a global perspective to it
it’s just a phenomenal talk
and uh so i look forward to hearing it
again i’ll probably listen to it once or
twice more before the conference because
i have it here
great well i hope people do register i
think it’s an important event
especially since we couldn’t gather
together this is an alternative
yeah so bob there’s a conversation that
ted and i are hearing a lot today and
it’s not a new conversation
and it is this idea that the support
model of missionary sending
is really dying a slow death and that’s
probably been intensified by covid
because of course the runway to the
field is quite long right now for a lot
of folks
who are in the shoot and what we’re
hearing about is we need to be seeking
alternatives
bam indigenous partnerships
native missionaries whatever you want to
call it and so
i wonder do you think that the support
model this model of local churches
identifying
raising up and supporting sent ones is
dying
one cannot put his shoulder to every
controversy
that we have in the christian world but
this one seems to me important
and uh worth at least raising my voice
on
uh does this uh does this concern come
out of the
idea that we should feel sorry for
missionaries that uh their life is too
hard just
even to raise support to go have we
missed the great uh reality of the great
joy that uh they’re going to do mission
where dying is gain
and that they’re going to be more like
christ they’re going to be apostles
as as christ was are we
trying to find some way to make up for
uh the great glory that it is to
people to be senders and to be the
missionary community that stands behind
someone
this is the first problem that i see
with this is that
the great commission did not say all
authority has been given to me in heaven
and earth
find somebody else to go and you will
fulfill the great commission jesus
didn’t say uh as the father sent me so
i’m going to go find somebody else to
go just because the economics demanded
can you imagine the first century how
many
difficulties there were with plague or
disease and travel
and obstacles in order to send
missionaries so
i’m first of all concerned biblically
that we stay true to this
this mandate that we we go and we
overcome the difficulties
that may be put in for us put in front
of us
at this time uh i think of
david livingstone who said i never made
a sacrifice you know people worry that i
might have
given up something in order to be the
missionary in africa
but is it a sacrifice which brings such
blessing to the one who goes so
come on i want to encourage all those
that do feel they’re go
they’re called to go not to give up on
that sense of calling you would do
link yourself with a church which wants
to send you and an agency which wants to
make sure that that happens and uh and
overcome
and then to the donors who what are we
looking for a good deal
is we’re looking for a heck of a deal
maybe to go find
uh a way to send 20 national workers
instead of the
instead of the uh the missionary who is
so expensive
a couple of problems with that but first
of all we have to be scriptural
and send those that are really called to
go and remember that there’s no
substitute in becoming like christ
to be part of that effort to enjoy the
fellowship of his sufferings
by uh by going where dying is gained
so but i’m gonna play a little bit of
devil’s advocate maybe literally here
today i don’t know we’ll see
but uh i think one of the the pushbacks
with the
sending model as we have it today is
it’s obviously not a universal model
in scripture uh you know i would say a
lot of people would feel that it was
born 250
275 years ago in that it was born out of
a colonialistic
era and that we are continuing to
promote these ideas of colonialism
imperialism as we send
westerners as missionaries
yeah that’s been that’s been a attack
for a hundred years you know that uh
a hundred years ago the archbishop of
england said that we now have a witness
on six continents that we’ve got
witnesses all over the world and we can
stop sending missionaries
uh of course we we don’t go back a
hundred years or even 250. we want to go
back to the holy spirit which sends
people in the
book of acts that sends people
in in the manner that the father sent
the son so
let us first of all recapture the sense
of what it means to be the church to be
the sending church
and uh not suppose that this model is
either pragmatic or recent in
development
as the father has sent me so send i you
and go into all the world and preach the
gospel these are the texts which still
call the church to be the sending church
yes i understand the obstacles of the
times and the difficulties with which we
now live and serve but i tell you what
it seems to me at least my own
experience with frontiers that the
donors
are sacrificing in this time to make
sure that they are
continuing to support their missionaries
it is it is a blessing to them and we
don’t want to
to deny that to them so bob one of the
things that surfaces a lot and you’ve
already hit on it a little bit
is that this model is financially
unsustainable you mentioned pragmatism
so they’re looking at this just through
natural lenses i get that
but you know they talk about the most
bang for the buck which you already
mentioned
uh do you believe that the support model
is
in fact sustainable yes let me refer to
one of the most uh well-known uh
articulate articles on this
point of view of supporting those who
are
nationals out there it’s from uh
revolution and world mission by uh
kp johannen and he made the classic case
for this
saying tens of thousands of native
missionaries are being raised up by the
lord
in the two-thirds world right now they
are asians many of them already live in
the
nation where they must be reached or in
nearby cultures
the primary message i have for every
christian pastor and mission leader is
that we are witnessing a new day in
missions
uh we can help make it possible here’s
week offers the heck of a deal
we can make it possible for millions of
asians to move out with the liberating
gospel of jesus christ so
that message is out there i’m trying to
deal first of all scripturally
with the reason to send but now as to
the model
look it looks to americans as though
this
opportunity to uh
to uh focus your you’re giving on
locals out there will bring about the
uh the planting of churches among
peoples that are
in the hindu and the buddhist and the
muslim cultures
of india pakistan chad these different
ideas
caveat empdor let the buyer beware on
this
the new testament outcome that matters
most is
mentioned in romans chapter 16 verse 3
when paul thanks priscilla and aquila
greet priscilla and aquilly aquila for
me they risked their next for me
all of the churches of the gentiles
greet them churches of the gentiles
ecclesiantone ethnone
this refers to the planting of churches
who are not of people that are not being
accreted onto the existing churches of
their time
but are starting churches comprised
of gentiles and governed by gentiles
and this reality is something that i
find almost never happens when you
simply give money
and expect that locals out there
are going to do the work of planting
churches among people that are not their
kind
churches of muslim background believers
churches of hindus
this great reality of the bible is
hardly one that even the jews
were willing to bring about with paul
count the number of people that paul had
on his missionary teams over the years
there are 28 to 32.
only four of them were jewish people
priscilla and aquila
planted churches among the gentiles and
there’s two others mentioned in
colossians 4.
the others were all gentiles themselves
who were
recruited by paul to plant churches
among their own people so the great
thing that has to happen whether by
uh employing and paying nationals
through the method that we’re reviewing
right now or by
expensive north americans is to plant
churches among the gentiles and that
rate outcome great outcome
is worth a little more auditing than
we’ve seen in the past
or until now with the with the methods
that are
out there here’s an example my friend dr
rajendra who was head of the india
mission association
get this 50 000 members of the india
mission association all of them local
indian people who were on the payroll of
people from north america
fifty thousand indians already on the
payroll but dr agenda
said i cannot find 50 among those 50 000
who are willing to
even talk to muslims about the faith so
there are there’s an accumulation of
bias out there
in the india world in the world of chad
and sudan
that is hard for us to imagine so let’s
not simply think that oh
brown people they can do the work among
people that are also
like them it’s a much more uh
it’s a it needs a lot more investigation
to find out
the truth of what dr agenda is finding
for example
yes the india people will find many many
uh indians to work among but they’re
usually the dalits
like they themselves are or the
historical christian people
so so let me illustrate you get an
american delegation which goes over to
india and investigates for themselves
come back with the delightful
fact that they have found an indian
evangelist who’s already trained 20 more
and all they need is money american
money in order to make their evangelism
work and so
the church shifts its funding to these
20 and and gets wonderful reports we say
pictures of them standing up and
preaching the gospel
but uh we have to ask them the further
question are they
reaching their own kind of people with
more and more
good work which may be the outcome you
want or
are they planting churches among the
gentiles that is the muslims the hindus
the great populations of of asia
which are yet to be populated with
christian churches
so you know ted and i tried to be
provocateurs on this show sometimes we
take sides sometimes we just press and
poke
but i i agree with you this whole idea
that this model is not
sustainable is ridiculous we fund
and support the things we love if we
love
sending if we love god’s glory then
we’ll find a way to fund it
i just don’t buy this at all so i’m with
you brother well
uh love finds a way you know uh
and love is is has grown a great deal
when you send your own missionaries
i i don’t want to uh end up saying both
and or anything works
i want to say we have to find the way
that we will bring about the great
biblical end
of missions which is churches among the
gentiles being founded
and that may happen very well by funding
local nationals but you better
do an audit the audit is very important
to see where
what’s happening with your money and not
be simply
happy you see pictures of people
standing up and
being baptized and things like this it
may be more of the same extension of the
gospel
among their own people with american
money if that’s your outcome that’s fine
but don’t suppose
that the great non-christian populations
have been reached in that way
yeah i would i would just uh say i
myself have taken
kind of dog and pony show trips
to see work done in other places and i’m
pretty savvy cross-culturally i’ve seen
a lot of missionary work
and i’ve walked away really wondering
what’s going on
and sometimes i think that when fun
funders particularly who don’t have that
kind of depth of cross-cultural
experience that somebody like
me does because i’ve worked in missions
for so long i worry that they are
showing something that’s actually not
realistic on the ground
so to your listeners who are
open to another point of view i think
there’s some that are
just convinced that we are going to get
better bang for our buck
a heck of a deal if we uh fund the
nationals and that’s all they want
but for those that are still open let me
illustrate with a story like
like yours did i landed in northern iraq
uh the only
american christian family there but
there were local believers
they were from the historical background
of the church of the east
and for the last 200 years missionaries
or donors have been showing up in
iraq and the middle east confining to
their delight little
groups of historical christian people
and say well all we have to do is to
fund them that’s the missing point
and they will evangelize the muslims and
it didn’t happen a 200-year experiment
in trying to con convince these
uh these local christians the
accumulation of prejudice that they feel
and bias that they have makes it much
more difficult for them than for us
the pastor i crossed into the christian
neighborhood over there
the the priest he he poured me a whiskey
first thing and he said live in our
neighborhood bob with the christians
we’ll have a christian woman
wash your clothes for you watch your
kids and we’ll show the muslims that we
stick together
now this was uh an opportunity somebody
may want to do that i broke his heart i
went to live with the muslim population
we started something brand new churches
among
gentiles you get the point but there’s
there’s even a special word for the
christian population in the middle east
in the crit in the kurdish world fella
f-e-l-l-a-h
it refers to a different race a
different kind a different language
a different history a different dress a
different way to
who who can get married into your group
and so when you ask a person
from a muslim background to join with
the
paid paid local nationals from the
christian church to join them
it really is asking them more than
christ asked when the samaritans came to
faith you know in john chapter 4.
yeah i encountered that in india when i
had
some muslim background believers tell me
that
when they first heard about christianity
it was through hindu christians
and i’m like what are hindu christians
and they were referring to
indians of hindu background who’d become
believers
but like anybody they contextualize
their christianity to hinduism
nothing wrong with that they’re they’re
doing what we do and we contextualize
our faith to
the american context but to the outsider
there wasn’t the aroma of christ it was
the aroma of hinduism in their
christianity that they referred to
so sometimes it does take somebody with
a very starkly different
background to work in these areas
let me illustrate that in a way that may
shock your listener suppose a muslim
couple comes to your church on a sunday
morning and they have been born again
and they present themselves for baptism
and they join your church and there’s
much rejoicing
and the next week the same thing happens
again another muslim couple joins your
church really joins
and the next weekend the same it’s a
phenomenon it’s never happened before
let’s say in our story and three years
go by
and then there’s a vote at the church
meeting whether or not to keep the pews
and all these muslim background
christians who have joined say
there’s nothing biblical about sitting
in church and we want a great open space
and now what have you what have you got
you’ve got a terrible crisis on your
hands and most people that were
once in the white church they feel
betrayed so this is a case for why
out why in the asian world in the
african world we have to start churches
among
the gentiles churches that muslim
background believers can form comprise
and govern
and find their own biblical way to work
rather than accreting them to existing
churches and that
willingness to start to trust muslim
background people to start their own
churches
i don’t see it happening much in the
united states i don’t see it happening
much over there
so follow the money see where it leads
if we’re going to be biblical
about seeing a movement movements happen
among muslims hindus
and buddhists we’re going to have to be
biblical about allowing
these new believers to start their own
churches
so bob something we hear in favor of bam
and marketplace
missionaries if you will is that
missionaries who raise support
lack credibility they really don’t have
a legitimate reason
to be in country surveying maybe you can
address that because i hear that quite a
bit
business says mission is a is a great uh
thing to do and if matthew 25 were being
written today i think jesus christ would
say of those needy people
i was ashamed of myself because they
didn’t have work and you provided
you created wealth for me you created a
job and so we have to be about
providing real needs for people that’s
bam but
it’s very rare when a westerner can
start the kind of business that will
also
fund him or her really this is just uh
cloudy cloudy thinking in my experience
there’s two reasons why businesses
mission practitioners
need to raise their support first of all
if you can raise your support then you
can take that
element that big component out of your
business and let the business run by
itself
without having to first of all or second
of all pay you
but secondly people that support you
they stand behind you in prayer what did
the lord say where your treasure is
there will your heart be also
so let’s follow the money of
people that want to support you and they
will pray for you they’ll be part of the
success they’ll be part of overcoming
the obstacles so businesses mission yes
but the idea that there’s enough money
out there in the
in chad or afro or the rest of the world
to
uh to raise your support as bam it’s
just not practical
i’m gonna tell you a quick story i was
at a uh it was actually
a board meeting for an organization and
they were getting a
um they were hearing about businesses
mission and why they should move the
agency in that direction
and the speaker was a ban proponent
and he talked about his two wonderful
vice presidents that was making the
business
they were making the business successful
and um
he flashed the slide up on the screen
there
and his two vice presidents one had been
about 15 years with the organization
that i served with pioneers the other
had been
about 15 years with the organization
user with frontiers
so those two organizations had spent
many years
investing in these two missionaries to
make them
effective incarnational workers and then
they joined this business as mission
effort and the argument was
missionary agencies are really not
needed because we can do it through
business
i just thought that is really uh kind of
a bait and switch there
um i you know personally let’s throw it
all at the wall and see what sticks
the truth is i have not seen many
full-time business as mission
entrepreneurs
also successfully plant churches unless
they do it in very
non-resistant people groups like the han
chinese
so from my perspective there’s also a
bit of an effectiveness question
uh when it comes to using that model
exclusively
so let’s start businesses if i were to
reside in india
where i’ve only visited three times and
watched the businesses vision
we’ve got to overcome the the uh
entitlement mentality
of just sending over 20-foot crates or
40-foot crates full of
of food or toothbrushes and handing them
out and
and then calling that your mission let’s
start businesses let’s
create wealth for people let’s employ
people and
and make the that difference in their
lives but uh
this at this added uh insult against
donating people raising your support in
the united states in order for the
canada to make that done
i just don’t think that’s really there
not going to happen
yeah i get nervous when i hear the
silver bullet mentality
the exclusivism that we have found the
way this
is the way it’s gonna happen and so i
really appreciate your response bob that
you know yes let’s start businesses yes
let’s send and support missionaries
and so we appreciate that hey listen one
final thought here before i turn it over
ted for our special segment at the end
of every show
from what i hear and the data’s not out
there yet but
missionary sending is on the decline
maybe brought on by covid perhaps
again the end of the year numbers will
probably tell the tale yeah
but there is this conversation now it’s
too expensive it’s not sustainable
you’ve addressed all these things and
you’ve really gone back to the
scriptures so
i hope that gripped people’s hearts and
minds there but what does the path
forward look like how do we
raise up a new missionary movement of
people who will leave home and go to the
ends of the earth to proclaim christ
what’s it going to take
well let’s make that a question worth
some reflection rather than
me to stumble around here and pretend
like i know
my final answer is maybe you know so
what is it going to take remains to be
seen we are in the midst of a
a jungle a fetid jungle and we don’t
know the way up but i can tell you this
our numbers of people applying just
close up and personal
have not dwindled people are still
planning to get out there when it
becomes more possible now our numbers
sending have
crashed you know the cratered almost
nothing in four months
could we do anything about that i don’t
think so is that the future i also don’t
think so
so i continue to work with aspiring team
leaders who want
my help our help to be prepared to go
there’s still a call upon the people of
god to send
and jesus christ said i have other sheep
which are not of this full they too must
hear my voice so
let’s be about the careful work of
soliciting people to go
through traditional mission agencies and
through
agencies which may not exist yet and
means which don’t yet exist
i’m all for uh you know
looking around at mission opportunities
which
may develop haven’t we all been
rather surprised at the way that uh this
this crisis corona crisis has allowed us
to innovate
even in little ways which are going to
change our our lives our presentations
i look for more innovation in the future
it’s great to hear so i’m going to give
a quote from david penman here and then
i’m going to ask ted the closing
question so david penman was an
archbishop in new zealand
bob and i don’t know if you’ve heard
this quote and i’ve shared it on this
podcast before it’s so powerful
he said no local church can afford to go
without the nourishment
and encouragement that will come to it
by sending and supporting its best
people
you see churches can’t afford not to
send their own to the ends of the earth
we’re already spiritually anemic
if we stop sending our own and we just
hire proxy soldiers and i believe in the
mass mobilization of god’s people
but if we outsource this entirely what’s
going to happen to our churches it’s
going to be disastrous
so bob thank you very insightful today i
know ted and i really appreciate this
and so ted the part of the show where
you share
something you like all right well this
podcast episode something i like is
and it goes with our kind of our theme
and our talk here with bob
is the international journal of frontier
mission um
you know mission nexus publishes emq
which is kind of what i call a
practitioner’s journal it’s meant for
the frontline missionary
it’s meant to be practical and pragmatic
ijfm really focuses
a lot on issues that intersect with the
frontier
um you’re not going to like everything
you’re eating here i never do
but there are always a couple of ideas
in here
that i find very compelling and very
interesting
and it’s not expensive to join if you
want to get introduced they are doing a
conference coming up
as well an online conference the title
is the past and
future of evangelical mission i am one
of the speakers but i noticed i didn’t
make the speaker listing on their
magazine so i’m not one of the important
speakers
which is great um but pick up a copy
or uh go on the website for the
international journal of frontier
missiology i find it a good read
whenever it comes
yes that’s something i like me too great
i’ll put my name in there too something
we all like so
bob again thank you this has been a
really rich conversation
new life comes to us on its way to
someone else love finds a way
a love of god compels us let’s not give
up brothers and sisters on the sending
of new missionaries overseas
that brings to close this episode of the
mission matters
with matthew ellison from 1615 missions
coaching
and ted essler president of mission
nexus we heard from bob blinko
us director of frontiers learn more
about bob
and frontier’s missions online at
frontiersusa.org
before you go would you visit our
sponsors websites it’s 1615.org and
missionexis.org
there you’ll find a wealth of
interesting and challenging information
about the state
of the great commission that’s 1615.org
and missionnexus.org
the mission matters is presented through
a partnership of 1615 missions coaching
and mission nexus

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