Out of the Cow Barn into the World
God uses everyday people to transform nations. Would you go on missions wherever God wants you to go?
- Medical teams in Ecuador, Haiti and South Asia
- Prayer teams in Haiti, Ecuador, Russia, Spain and other countries
- Work teams in many OMS countries
Many years ago a manufacturer and his wife participated on a Men for Missions International (MFMI) short-term mission trip to Haiti. He sold commercial fertilizer for a living, and she was a medical administrator. Several other professionals joined them. One of the first ministry opportunities brought their team to a small Haitian home. The OMS missionary "guide" told the Haitians that the team was Christian, and the members were there to talk to them about faith in Christ.
Photos courtesy of Men for Missions International
The people listened while members of the missionary group took turns talking about their faith. A Haitian man kept busy, sharpening his machete on a stone on the floor of the hut while the group shared. He interjected and said, "My clothes are not good enough for me to become a Christian." The commercial fertilizer salesman replied, "I had manure on my clothes the day I was saved." The Haitian man laid down his machete, left the house and went next door. When he returned a few minutes later, he had changed his clothes. He didn't say a word but knelt down, took the hand of the fertilizer dealer and repented of his sins, inviting Jesus into his life.
This is one of many stories of lives changed by the witness of men and women who come from their work in factories, offices or farms—all lay persons willing to do whatever God asks them to do, go wherever God asks them to go and give whatever God asks them to give.
From the beginning, the vision of Men for Missions International founder, Dwight H. Ferguson, was to reach the multitudes with the witness of laymen through their voices and their vocations. Through MFMI's 53 years of ministry, thousands of men and women from multiple church affiliations and every walk of life have found a way to use their skills and abilities in practical, direct missionary involvement. Participating on MFMI overseas trips by being involved in evangelism, medical, prayer and work teams has ignited laymen with new zeal for soul winning at home as well as abroad.
Dwight Ferguson possessed energy and a power from within to keep going. After his initiation into missions, his convictions were too strong for him to ever be dissuaded. Never again would his world- view be limited to the United States. He persistently challenged laymen to: "make the commitment to do, go and give as God asks."
Dwight loved relating stories of laymen from every walk of life—"out of the cow barn, the office or the garage"—who returned from overseas experiences with entirely new depths of obedience and involvement. One of his greatest joys was finding the toughest Christian men he could, taking them to a mission field, having them give a witness for Christ and then watching the Holy Spirit reduce them to tears of compassion. Or, as Dwight would say, "Take Mr. Meek or Mr. Mousy, stand him on a corner in South America and let the power of God flow through him so that new strength and boldness transformed his life."
In 1954, a special meeting with Dr. Eugene Erny, President of the Oriental Missionary Society (now known as OMS International), resulted in Dwight traveling to Asia with our first laymen, Stanley Tam and Aileen and Byron Crouse, a well-known businessman and Christian musicians respectively. This trip forever changed their lives. Men for Missions International, the Laymen's Voice of OMS International, was born with the top priority being the lordship of Jesus Christ in each person's life.
Those early leaders realized that many laymen are afraid to stand behind a pulpit, but performing a medical procedure, driving a back hoe, praying for a spiritual stronghold to come down or laying blocks for a chapel are the "pulpits" that people from all walks of life can stand behind... even a dairy farmer from Abilene, Kansas.
When Daniel Sexton began attending an MFMI council meeting (now called Action Groups), he asked questions about serving the Lord as a dairy farmer. MFMI first sent him to Haiti on a work team. As Daniel prayed and sought the Lord, he felt prompted to go to seminary and on to Japan as a career missionary, teaching English as a means of evangelism. Not everyone who goes on an MFMI short-term trip will leave his vocation to become a career missionary, but, God willing, all will be changed for life.
MFMI has an opportunity for you too. We need bricklayers to help build the seminary in Haiti. Our seminary building projects provide a place for more trained national leaders to continue the OMS work around the world. We also need doctors and nurses to assist on medical teams. On a recent medical trip to Ecuador, 739 people were treated for physical needs, and 360 people prayed to receive Christ as their Saviour. The list goes on and on.
These are exciting days as we see God moving and using lay people. But we need more men and women willing to do, go and give whatever God asks. What is He asking of you?
Warren Hardig is the international executive director for Men for Missions International. For more information on Men for Missions International, visit the OMS website, www.omscanada.org.
Originally published in the Outreach, a publication of OMS International, September/December 2007.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2008 Christianity.ca.