I’m a Missionary, You’re a Missionary, Everyone is a Missionary

A radio station in Toledo, YES FM, has pastors, missionaries and representatives from missions organizations on every morning to do a devotional of some sort. I have been honored to be on the station multiple times over the years. This post is a combination and summary of those five devotionals where the theme was “Being a Missionary in Your Everyday.”

My job title may officially be a missionary, but really all of us are missionaries. I want to talk to you about what it means to be a missionary in the everyday. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t being called to do short-term mission’s trips or even full-time mission’s work, but in the mean time, how can you live the missionary life in your every day?

After all, we are called to this in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So what does that mean for the person who isn’t called to full-time overseas or local mission’s work? It means the exact same for the full-time missionaries.

David Platt, president of the International Mission Board and author of Radical, recently exhorted new missionaries, but, in my opinion it can be applied to all Christians. He said:
1. May your only offense be obedience to God.
2. May your deepest joy be found & your greatest work done in daily prayer.
3. May your constant protection be the presence of God.
4. May your life cause nations to give glory to God.

Missionary in Your Home

Proverbs 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

It goes beyond parenting though. Whomever is in our home, whether they live with us or are guests, we need to be showing Christ to them.

How? Well:
– Model your relationship with Christ.
– Be real and honest, nothing works better than letting others see your struggles, but also your fight to overcome.
– Be a Safe place – allow people to share their struggles, judgment free. Let it be known you and your house is a place they can go when they need someone.

Missionary to Your Neighbors

Acts 9:36 – In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor.

I love how it says Tabitha was always doing good. I mean think about it; always doing good. On her way to get water at the well, Tabitha was doing good. When she was cleaning house, she was doing good. When she was watching the kids, she was doing good. No matter what she was doing, or was on her way to do, she was doing good. Maybe the always is a bit of hyperbole, but if she was known as always doing good, she was probably caught doing good way more often than not. She saw needs, and she met them.

I don’t know where I heard it, but someone said your neighbor is anyone that you run across on a regular basis. This means the people who live near you, your postman, the cashiers at the stores you go to, and anyone else whom you give that slight head nod to because it’s a bit awkward if you don’t, they are your neighbors.

How do we practically become missionaries to our neighbors?

3 Simple things can kickstart us to serving our neighbors.
1. Ask questions and listen – I know this will sound crazy, but if you ask them the normal greeting of “How are you?” actually ask them how they are and then listen to their response. Help people feel loved by investing in them and getting to know the real them.
2. Observe – If you look around you can probably notice things where people need help. It could be the homeless person you see on your way to work, the neighbor whose lawn is never mowed because their lawnmower broke and they don’t have money to replace it, the single parent who works two jobs and is scrambling to help their child with their schoolwork. Look around and observe and then ask how you can help, don’t assume.
3. Acknowledge – Words of encouragement are huge for most people. Look for people who are doing something well and point it out to them, or thank them for a job well done.

Now let’s go a bit further into Tabitha’s story.

Acts 9:36‭-‬39 ESV
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.

It doesn’t say for sure, but seeing as these are widows wearing clothes Tabitha made, the thought is that that was part of her “always doing good.” Making clothes could have been her job or a hobby, but either way, she took what she was good at and served her neighbors with that very thing.

A lot of people think serving others has to be doing something you don’t enjoy, because it isn’t service otherwise. Some service needs to be uncomfortable, but not everything does. So, if you like to bake, bake a cake for a neighbor. If you enjoy gardening have extra vegetables in your garden, give them away. If you are skilled at a specific subject, offer to help students near you who are struggling. I don’t care what your passion is or where your skills lie, find someone and bless them with it. Whatever you are skilled at or enjoy doing, look and listen for the opportunities to serve those who need and are in your life.

That being said, I also want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and serve your neighbors in ways that stretch you. There are many organizations in the area that need people to come volunteer, be they homeless shelters, after-school programs, or what have you. If you can’t think of a place to volunteer, I’m sure someone at your church or your neighbors that you’ve been getting to know would have some suggestions.

The one thing I want to leave you with, if nothing else, is to get up, get out and serve. Remember we serve because of the Gospel and God’s love for us. We need to share that love to others.

Missionary at Your Church

1 Corinthians 12:27-30
Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28 First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29 Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30 Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean.

1 Peter 4:1-10-11
10 Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. 11 If you have the gift of speaking, preach God’s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God

Let me tell you a story about one of the best examples of being a missionary to the church that I’ve been able to witness myself. My step-dad has been retired for a few years and almost as soon as he retired he dedicated more and more time to the church, serving on committees, helping with landscaping, setting up for events, etc. He gives more of himself to the church than I’ve seen anyone else do who wasn’t employed full-time by the church.

That’s not to say that we all need to retire and give a lot of our time to the church, but we were given specific skills to help the body of Christ grow closer to Him. I can’t speak for every church, but I’m sure if you contacted your church and asked if they needed help they could probably rattle off a good half dozen or so ways in which you can help. Most churches need nursery workers, Bible study leaders, landscaping, ushers, musicians, greeters, etc. Ask your church this week how you can serve the body of Christ.

Missionary to the World

How can you make international missions a part of your every day without living internationally?

  • Pray the Luke 10:2 prayer for more workers
  • Go on a short-term trip your church is organizing. Don’t know of one? Go to gemeuroteam.org and look at what my organization has coming up and sign up!
  • Send someone else to go on a missions trip. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • Go – gap year, internship, ten2 (10 weeks), or longer
  • Send – Most missionaries live on financial support from individuals and churches. Partner with them financially or prayerfully to impact the world.
  • I wrote a blog about how you can support missionaries in other ways and it will be posted next week, so come back and check it out!

You will do better in Toledo

Waking up at 3:30 in the morning really allows you to get some stuff done before the rest of the world wakes up. . .but it also means you are up at 3:30 in the morning!

So the day didn’t start out the best, but the rest of the day ended up being pretty great until I crashed at the early hour of 8:30 PM. 

After the rest of the house woke up my mom and I went to the gym for a good workout. The rest of the morning was full of some errands including getting a Sim card for my phone and my jet-lagged brain had a hard time with paying. I totally forgot about tax so when I handed the cashier “enough” money to pay for the item, she looked at me and said, “The card cost that much, but either tax it’s. . .” Oh yeah, tax, I kind of forgot about that. 

In the afternoon I got to work for my friend who has his own screen-printing business. I asked him if he needed some extra help so I can earn some money in order to get back and he gladly accepted my help. I had a great time working for Jupmode and am very appreciative of the opportunity. 

After getting back to my mom’s house I had another good surprise in the form of another sizable donation from a friend and neighbor. Day one was a full day and another great one.

God has blessed this trip so far and i can’t wait to see what He has planned for the rest of my time here. 

My apology for apologizing

During my six weeks back in the US I met with individuals, groups and churches and told them about what I, eDOT, EuroTeam TEFL and GEM do. I wanted people to get excited about what I am excited about. I told the same stories over and over again, I explained the details of what the heck an instructional designer actually does and then towards the end I asked if people would like to join my ministry partner team prayerfully and/or financially. All of this was fine, nothing was done horribly wrong, except one thing…I apologized.

Now, my parents raised me right and taught me to apologize when I did something wrong. The problem here, is I didn’t do anything wrong. I was apologizing because I was asking for money. I apologized because I know that being asked over and over again to donate money to one cause or another can be super annoying. I apologized because, well, I felt uncomfortable asking.

Here’s the problem and the reason for this apology: I had nothing to apologize for, but by doing so, I didn’t properly invite people to join in and participate in the ministry to which God has called me, where my talents are being used, where, only by the grace of God, people may hear about Christ and choose to follow Him. I was contacted by someone I respect who called me out on this and told me to never apologize when inviting people to help reach others for Christ. I failed, and for this I apologize.

My plan is to properly invite people into my ministry partner team, where they can truly feel and see their impact in Europe. It won’t stop at the invitation though. Through this blog, my newsletters and any conversation you all have with me about my ministry, I will strive to inform you on my work here in Germany. You all deserve better, and my hope is to help you understand just how valuable you all are to me, the ministry and those that come across the curriculum I design.

I’m sorry and I hope you all will feel like more of a team from now on and will better understand how important you truly are.

How I can get from here to there, with your help

In a recent post I talked about my desire to be at 80% of my monthly support raised so I could go to the September training in North Carolina. My plan (and I stress the word my in this phrase because I am submitting myself to God’s plan) was to be at 80% before I go to Alaska July 19th. That gives me 22 days to reach my goal. I am not sure if this is the plan that God has for me, but I am doing all that I can to reach this goal all the while praying for God to work in my heart and others to achieve His plan.

In the next 22 days I need to have an additional 15% of monthly support raised ($750 more per month). That is just under 1% ($50) per day. What I wanted to do today is explain what it means to support a missionary monthly and give you an idea of how you could help me get to and stay in Germany through your support.

So what does it mean to support any missionary monthly? Well, it means you give a certain amount of money to a missionary on a monthly basis for as long as they are a missionary. At least, theoretically, that is how it works. That doesn’t mean that if you lose a job, have a kid or have some unexpected major expenses that you have to keep supporting the missionary when you can’t afford to feed your kids, but what it does mean is you will do your best to provide the agreed amount for as long as you feel called to give.

On my support me page I go into more detail on how exactly you can start supporting me monthly or with a special gift (both tax-deductible), so I don’t want to go into too much detail about that, but I would like to point out some ways that you could help me reach my goal of 80% and then 100% so I could be in Germany by the end of the year.

One way you could help is by giving a special monetary gift. This doesn’t help me get my monthly support level higher, but it does get me closer to completing my launch fund which will get me to Germany and cover the one-time expenses (like buying a kitchen, ask me more about that!).

Another way is to support me monthly. This doesn’t mean that you have to give a huge amount every month. Any amount helps. I have people giving between $5/month and $200/month with some churches doing more. A monthly pledge should be beyond what you give to your church for your tithe and it is whatever you feel called to give. No pledge is too small.

A way I like to think about monthly pledges is by how much it is per paycheck. For instance:

If you are single and give $50/month (1%) then each paycheck you would be giving $25. That’s a dinner at a nice place or two at an average priced place.

If you are a two-paycheck family (four/month) then $50/month would only be $12.50 per paycheck!

A third way is to ask friends/family (that I don’t know or haven’t talked to) if I can contact them personally or inviting them to a dessert/coffee night where I present to a small group. You could also get me connected with your pastor, church or bible study. You could also share this post on facebook/twitter/linkedin or any other social site to get more people to learn about what God has called me to do.

No matter what though, supporting any missionary should be something you pray about and feel led to partner with them in the ministry they have been called to do. God calls some to go and some to send. He has called me to go so He has called my team to send me! If you feel that you are being called to join my team please let me know by commenting below, e-mailing me at jacob.coon@gemission.org or calling me at 301-848-7353. If you want to learn more about my ministry before making a decision use that contact information and we can set up a time to sit down and talk.

Let’s Catch Up! Oh, it’s been 9 years? Awkward!

 

“Let’s catch up!” I said, not completely realizing what that would entail. I didn’t realize that the two people I had said this to, would take me up on the offer and then catching up meant covering the last 9 or 10 years. Yeah, that’s the kind of friend I am and yeah, that’s the kind of humor God is using during this time of ministry partner development.

I am pretty darn horrible at keep up with friends. It’s not because I don’t care, it’s mostly because I just forget to call people or e-mail people, or hand write a letter to people, or carrier pigeon people or even smoke signal people. Ok, now I see the problem, I suck, plain and simple, but that is not the point.

The point is that while planning my current MPD (ministry partner development AKA support raising) trip I was not sure who I could meet with on my circuitous route. I felt God impress on me that I should reach out to people that I hadn’t thought about reaching out to before because it had been “too long.” I started to look at facebook and checked to see who lived somewhere near my route. I found nine different people, all of which I had not talked to in at least 3 years with the majority being 9 or 10 years and a few being since I graduated high school 13 years ago (Yikes!).

Here comes the awesome part! I contacted a bunch of people to see if we could catch up and/or if they wanted to start receiving my newsletter. A few got back and said they would love the newsletter and a few said they would love to meet with me and catch up. Last Friday I met with a girl I went to college with and hadn’t talk to her in 9 years and we had a great time catching up. The other girl I only knew through volunteering for a month at a Young Life camp 10 years ago next month. I met with her and her husband and it was amazing!

God was definitely in both of those meetings. I don’t know what the results of those meetings are quite yet as far as support goes, but I do know that I have a new found appreciation for catching up with people and being more intentional about my relationships with other people.

Thanks God, I needed that!

Tie a string on your finger

I have the most random memory in the world. Ok, maybe not the whole world, but definitely at least my family. There are times in the past where I have memorized all of the presidents names, their political party, what number they were and the years of their term(s). Then there are times I will have complete conversations with people that I completely forget I ever had. One time I was in Colorado and I went to a putt-putt/arcade place with my mom and then a few years later I wanted to go with my dad. I couldn’t remember the name of the place, but I did remember, and still do to this day, the street you took to get there. It wasn’t even the street it was on, just one on the way. Basically what I am saying is, my brain is messed up. It remembers what it wants to remember with total disregard to my wishes and desires.

Do you remember growing up and at least hearing the saying tie a string around your finger to remember, well I think my brain would like me to do that. If I ask someone to remember something for me, I won’t forget but if I tell myself to remember I will forget almost immediately. Thank goodness God works with my strengths and weaknesses, otherwise I might have to walk around with a string on each finger and that would look pretty ridiculous.

So here is where this post is going, I often forget that God has called me to Germany and that since He has called me, He will provide. I mean, I don’t totally forget, but I don’t always fully believe it sometimes when things aren’t going the way I had thought they would. What’s great is God has been sending me little reminders just like the strings to remind me I am doing His will. I wanted to share a couple of them that happened in the last week since I am more prone to remember if I share and so you too can get excited about God’s plan for me in Germany.

 I was at Plate 21 (I know surprise!) and I read my missionary friend’s status update about how a little girl came to their door to give them a contribution. I thought that it was so awesome, for her, if you know what I mean. I admit, I was a wee bit jealous of that and then literally about 5 minutes later the owner of Plate 21 gave me an envelope from a customer who heard I was doing mission’s work. She told me that the customer, who is in high school, wanted to help. I opened the envelope and in there was a letter and a contribution. It was almost like God was saying, “Shut-up, I called you too, so I will provide!” I don’t know if God would say shut-up, but I imagine He does.

Last week I was thinking about my Ministry Partner Development trip to the east coast coming up at the end of this week and I was trying to think of people I could contact to set up meetings. A name popped in my head that I hadn’t thought about before. They were already ministry partners, but I knew I could ask them to host a gathering of friends. So I e-mailed them and almost immediately got an e-mail back. The ministry partner told me that she was already looking for ways she could help and was looking into different venues where I could talk to people she knew even though she wasn’t going to be in town. That’s incredible!

These are just two of the stories. God is calling me to Germany and He will provide the partners for me. I just have to remember and keep doing what He has called me to do.