The Ancient Origin of Modern Missions: The Call of Abram
May 23, 2004 | Andrew Davis
This is an exciting Sunday for me in terms of preaching as well as the things that are happening here. Five years ago, I ended a 12-week sermon series in the Book of Genesis right at this point in Genesis 12, and I am desiring to pick that up again as I planned weeks and weeks ago. It just so happens that this morning we also get to commission two missionary families that are going out from our number. Now, I think it is even more exciting when the pastor and the pastoral staff don't plan these kinds of things, but that God ordains and brings them together. Amen. And so, I am excited for this message and for this series as we are looking through the Book of Genesis, but also excited about the Maugers and the Collys as they go out from our midst to serve the Lord.
I want to begin by telling you the story of one of my favorite missionaries in church history, a man whose life and example are becoming in my mind more and more relevant as the events of this 21st century unfold. His name is Raymond Lull. Raymond Lull was born in the 13th century, in 1232, into a wealthy family in Majorca, Spain. His home island had only recently been re-conquered from the Muslims, as the Spanish gradually pushed the Muslim influence back into North Africa. He lived a life of utter decadence and immorality in the court of the King of Aragon, yet was known as a gifted scholar despite his decadence. During his early 30s, he was born again through a mystical vision that he had of Christ. He was engaged in immorality and immoral thoughts even at that moment when the vision came, and he was immediately struck by conviction of sin. He was broken by it, gave his life to Christ, and decided to live as a monk. He lived the life of a recluse as did many monks of his day. Then another vision came and changed his life a second time. He had a vision of himself in a forest meditating alone, far from all worldly distractions that was his desire. He then, in his vision, met a traveling pilgrim who rebuked him for the self-centered life he was living even as a recluse and a monk, when there was a world that needed the message of Jesus Christ.
Now, understand the context. This was the time of the Crusades when soldiers were being sent from Christendom, from Europe, to reconquer Jerusalem militarily. It was this second vision that specifically led him to go as a missionary to the Muslim Saracen people in Tunis and preach the Gospel to them. They were the most hated and feared enemies of Christendom and, at that time, the Crusade was going with full blood and vengeance to reconquer from the Muslims the Promised Land. Lull wrote this, "I see many knights going to the Holy Land beyond the seas and thinking they can acquire it by force of arms; but in the end, all are destroyed before they attain that which they think to have. Whence it seems to me that the conquest of the Holy Land ought to be attempted by love and prayers and by the pouring out of tears and blood."
You see, the Christian church has always advanced more by suffering and dying than by causing suffering and dying, and Lull saw this very clearly. And so, he wanted to go forth and be willing to even be a martyr for Christ, to win some Muslims to him. Lull was one of the most imaginative, courageous and faith-filled missionaries of all time, but he began his mission trip by being overwhelmed with fears and doubts. As he was boarding the ship for Tunis, all of his luggage on board, everything ready to go, all of his friends and other monks there on the wharf to see him off, he was suddenly overcome by fear and terror of dying, suffering and persecution. He ordered all of his stuff taken off the ship, disembarked and the ship sailed without him. Can you imagine the conversations that went on between Lull and his friends at that point, and the shame he felt at turning his back on the call of Christ?
Abram, as we'll see momentarily, also had a false start in his call to follow God like Lull, who was on the next ship for Tunis with all of his equipment. He arrived in Tunis in North Africa, arranged a debate with Muslim clerics and did an excellent job and, as a reward, he was thrown in prison. He was then stoned by a mob and eventually disguised himself as a wharf-dwelling hobo, in effect, and witnessed quietly in the streets of the city of Goleta. He believed that for every one Saracen he converted to Christianity, 10 Christians became Muslims, and yet he continued to witness and to preach the Gospel. Eventually, after a lifetime of faithful ministry to Muslims, he openly sought martyrdom at age 80 and boldly preached in Bougie in Tunis until an enraged mob stoned him to death on June 30, 1315.
Now, Raymond Lull ventured forth by faith. He got on board that ship by faith, and then when his faith wavered, he got off the ship. When his faith was revived by the power of God, he got back on the next ship and he went. He stepped out in faith, I believe, following in the footsteps of the faith that our father, Abraham, had while he was still uncircumcised, it says in Romans 4. He ventured forth, as missionary after missionary after missionary has done since that time, boldly going out in the name of Christ because of a burning conviction inside his heart that apart from this message of faith in Christ, the world is lost and will perish eternally. And so, they stepped out in faith.
The Eternal Gospel: The Knowledge of God to the Ends of the Earth
God’s Timeless Plan
Now, I believe the Scripture teaches that before the foundation of the world, the 4,000-year journey of this message of faith was ordained by God. Before the sun or the moon or the stars were created, before any of us was born, before any of our ancestors was born, before the mountains took their shape, before any of it came to be, this 4,000-year journey of the message of faith in Jesus Christ had already been fully formed in the mind of God. This is the eternal Gospel, namely the knowledge of God to the very ends of the Earth. God had a timeless plan and I believe it began with the call of Abram to leave Ur the Chaldeans and go where God told him to go. I believe that Abram stands as the ancient origin of the modern missions’ movement.
Abraham our “Father in Faith”
Abram is our father in faith, because God has always chosen to advance this message through individual people who hear Him speaking to them and who venture forth in faith courageously to go where God leads them to go.
God’s Methods: Working Through Individual People
Now, there is somewhat of a modern hostility to missions, like a form of cultural imperialism, they think. We are taking our views and spreading them around the world, as though we alone were right and they were wrong. Whereas more enlightened people will come and tell us that comparative religion shows that we all have basically the same views, etcetera. You have heard these kinds of things before. And so, the modern missions’ movement is under attack, and it will be increasingly so in our pluralistic, our aggressively pluralistic country of America. You'll be made to feel ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of its solitary saving power for the ends of the earth. We must resist this shame. It says in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
God’s Call on Abram
Now, as we look at this call on Abram, we see it comes in a context and we are zooming through the preaching of Genesis. I preached through the first 11 chapters before I preached this message the first time in Genesis 12. And so, at that time, I think the context would have been a little bit clearer, but let's recapitulate and understand. First of all, who is it that called Abram to leave Ur the Chaldeans? Who was this God? John Stott has a marvelous comment on this, "The Lord who chose and called Abraham is the same Lord who, in the beginning, created the heavens and the earth and who climaxed his creative work by making man and woman unique creatures in his own likeness. In other words, we should never allow ourselves to forget that the Bible begins with the universe, not with the planet earth; then with the earth, not with Palestine; then with Adam the father of the human race, not with Abraham the father of the chosen race. Since, then, God is the Creator of the universe, the earth and all mankind. We must never demote him to the status of a tribal deity or petty godling like Chemosh, the god of the Moabites, or Milcom (or Moloch), the god of the Ammonites, or Baal, the male deity, or Ashtoreth, the female deity, of the Canaanites. Nor must we suppose that God chose Abraham and his descendants because he had lost interest in other peoples or given them up. Election is not a synonym for elitism. On the contrary, God chose one man and his family in order through them to bless all the families on the earth." Isn't that a marvelous quote? This is the vision and the plan of the God who called Abram.
Now, he did not reveal all of this to Abram at that time. He knew what he would do over the next 4,000 years, but he knew that this long journey would begin with this simple step of a call in Abram's life. And so, we see the biblical context of this call: Genesis 1, the creation of the whole universe; Genesis 2, the special creation of man and woman made in his likeness and in His image; Genesis 3, the fall of man through disobedience and rebellion, the first promise of redemption through the seed of the woman, and the serpent slayer who would come and crush the serpent's head; Genesis 4 through 11, the twin themes of the advance of sin and wickedness, along with the rising up of a chosen race of faithful people of Seth and Noah and eventually of Abraham; Genesis 10 and 11, the scattering of the nations after the flood; And now, in Genesis 12, the beginning of the regathering of the nations through faith in Christ. That's the context of this call.
Now, what were Abram's circumstances? He lived in Ur of the Chaldeans. Nehemiah 9:7 says, "You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham." Stephen put it this way in Acts 7:2 and 3, "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. He appeared to him, ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’" Now, Ur is in modern Iraq. It's about 225 miles southeast of Baghdad. What could be more relevant? That's exactly where he lived, where many of our troops are stationed this morning. That's where he lived. Ur of the Chaldeans was the beginning place of the Babylonian empire. It was a fertile area, a powerful region, it was a city, wealthy in trade and power, perhaps second only to Egypt at that time in development. A powerful and wealthy area. God said, leave it behind. Turn your back on it.
Abram was a Shemite or a Semite, a descendant of Shem. He is later called “the Hebrew” in Genesis 14:13. He is part of that godly line that is following Shem, and yet there were problems, because Abram's father and his brother and his relatives were idolaters. They were polytheists. They worshiped many gods. In Joshua 24:2 it says, "Joshua said to all the people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods.”’” Now, interesting, Joshua in Joshua 24:2, does not say that Abraham worshiped other gods, he may or may not have, but he doesn't say so. But he does say that his father, Terah, was a polytheist, a worshipper of many gods. Now, into that situation comes God's call. God speaks clearly, but only the believers can hear. It says in Isaiah 1:2, "Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the Lord has spoken."
And, Jesus said in John 10:27 and 28, "My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me." And so, God's sheep hear Him speaking, but Stephen says that He appeared to him in a vision in some way. He appeared to our father Abraham before he lived in Haran in Mesopotamia. Now, this call would shape the rest of Abram's life. In fact, it would shape the rest of human history. And yet, how quiet it must have seemed at the time. I am sure there must have been big current events going on in Ur of the Chaldeans. If they had had a newspaper, I don't think that the call of Abram would have even made any kind of mention at all. Perhaps the notification of a yard sale or something like that. But other than that, I don't really know. There wouldn't be much of a notification at all. It was just the internal call that he believed.
Now, notice that God, when He comes and when He calls you, He asks everything from you. Look at the call. He says, "Leave your country, your people, and your father's household, and go to the land that I will show you." He asks everything. Leave behind everything familiar, everything of value. Become, as it were, a wanderer on earth. Basically, I'll tell you where to go next, just leave. You have no place to lay your head. Follow the sound of my voice wherever I tell you to go. Follow me and I'll tell you what to do. Life of faith, following the sound of God's voice to regions unknown, trusting only in God's goodness to meet every need. The Collys and the Maugers are trusting that internal voice. They don't know what's going to face them when they reach the place of their service, they just know that God has called them.
And frankly, God isn't in the business of telling us everything that is around the next bend. He wants us to learn to trust His voice. And so, Abram was called to leave behind everything, and thus began Abram's life of wandering. Look at Verse 4. It says, "So Abram left." And then in Verse 6, "Abram traveled through the land." And then in Verse 8, it says, "From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent." In Verse 9, "Then Abraham set out and continued toward the Negev." In Verse 10, "Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while." In Chapter 13, Verse 1, "Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev." And so, it continued. Abraham himself talked about this in Genesis 20:13. He said, "When God had me wander away from my father's household." He uses the word wander, and so it was. It was a life of wandering, without roots, a life characterized by tents. That would be the symbol of Abram's experience, of Abraham's experience.
God’s Promises to Abram
Three Promises to Abram
Hebrews 11:8-10 puts it this way, "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith, he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God." So, he didn't mind living in tents. He confessed that he was an alien and a stranger on earth with no deep roots, nothing to hold him, once he left behind Ur of the Chaldeans and his father's household. And so, God asks everything of Abraham at this moment. He asks it all, but He also offers him everything as well. Look at the promise that He makes in Verses 2 and 3. He makes three promises right away in Verse 2. He says, "I will make you into a great nation," that's one, "I will bless you," that's two, and “I will make your name great." that's three. Three promises. That's what he gives Abram as an inducement to obey Him. He could have just said, "Leave your country and your people and go to the land I will show you." That would have been enough. But instead, he sweetens and bolsters his faith with these three promises.
The Purpose of the Promises
First, I will make you into a great nation. This is a tremendous promise, especially for a man whose wife was barren, who yearned for a son. We know as we are going to continue to study, what a journey this would be even at this point until he finally has a son born of his barren wife, a son named Isaac. This is an incredible promise. I will make you into a great nation. This was the deepest desire of Abram's heart concerning his earthly life. Actually, later we'll see that Abram has his name changed to Abraham, the father of many nations, not just that he alone would be a great nation, but he would be the father of many great nations.
The second promise, I will bless you. This is God's commitment to take his resources, his power, his sovereign kingly rule, his wisdom, and pour it down on Abram for his benefit. Isn't that incredible? The idea that God is going to take all that he has and just put it at Abram's disposal for his benefit. That's a blessing. I will bless you. Later, Moses gave this statement of God's blessing in Deuteronomy 28 and I love it, 28:3 through 8, speaking to Abraham's descendants, the Israelites, "You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock−the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land He is giving you.” Oh, what lavish blessings, but notice how earthly they are. Do you realize that we who are Christians have far greater blessings, promises of infinitely greater blessings than that, your basket and your kneading trough. I mean, that's not bad. But think about this, Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Full forgiveness of sins, adoption into the family of God, eternity in God's presence with God's people, free from all death, mourning, crying, and pain. Living in the new heavens and the new earth, the home of righteousness, being made perfectly righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ. What incredible promises and blessings we have. How much greater are they than what Abram was offered here in Verse 2.
And then Verse 2 says, “I will make your name great.” Now, this is the very thing that people are always striving for, 10 minutes of fame. Just to get our face on USA Today, wouldn't that be exciting? The longer I live, the less I want that [chuckle]. It brings nothing but trouble but it's the very thing that the men before the flood in Genesis 6:4 stumbled over. They were called men of the name, comes across in the NIV like men of renown but they were pursuing a name for themselves, they were empire builders. And so, God brought the flood down on their heads and then it was the same stumbling block at the tower of Babel when they wanted to make a name for themselves and not be scattered over the surface of the earth, so they build this tower. But here, God promises to do it for him. He's not seeking it. He says, I'll just do it for you and here, 4,000 years later, we're considering this man from Ur of the Chaldeans. We still know his name, Abram, later changed to Abraham. Still considering him. I will give you a great name but, Abraham, I will not give you the greatest name. There is going to come one after you whose name will be above every name, so that in the name of Jesus, your descendant, every knee will bow, including your own, and every tongue will swear that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, the Father. So, I'll give you a great name, but not the greatest name. We will hold that out for your descendant. And so, we see these three promises. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and I will make your name great. We also see the purpose of the blessing as well, Verse 2, in effect, so that you will be a blessing.
Many of us look at the blessings of life somewhat like the end of the line. God blessed me so that He would bless me, and that's the end of it. And then the blessings, which are meant to be a river just flowing through and blessing a whole region, instead, become like a backwater, like a swamp. It never moves anywhere, it just stays with us. He said, I'm going to bless you so that you will be a blessing. So, Abram's call was for a purpose. His purpose, God's purpose, was universal. He had his eyes on the whole world and all the history of the world. Verse 3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So God has his eyes on all nations. He's not just calling out the Jews to bless them alone, but he intends, from the very start, to bless all peoples on earth through Abram.
Now, in your bulletin, there's an insert from the North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptist Convention together. It mentions right at the start the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. Do you see that? If you look on the back side at the top, it says that all peoples may know him. Well, John Piper was preaching a mission sermon recently, and a little six-year-old girl came up and corrected his grammar. She told him that people is already a plural word, and it doesn't need an “s” on the end. You don't need to talk about peoples, just people. He had the pleasure of sitting down and explaining why there is an “s” on the end of the word people.
It would be similar to there being an “s” on the end of the word “group.” Group is already plural, isn't it? But there can be groups, you see. And so, there are also peoples identified by their culture, by their language, by their ethnicity, by their physical features, by their heritage. Now, we don't know how many of these peoples there are, but we know that many of them are unreached. They've never heard the name of Jesus Christ or Abraham or any of this. They are still living in darkness and God intended that all peoples, all peoples on earth, will be blessed through Abram.
And so, the Collys and the Maugers are going forth to find some of those unreached peoples and bring them to faith in Christ. Amen. A direct fulfillment of this command and this prophecy, really, all peoples on earth. This is not a command, by the way, it is a prophecy. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. I'm going to make it happen, I'm going to see to it. He is called for that purpose. Galatians 3:8 put it this way, “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’” Paul also writes there in that same chapter, Galatians 3:16, “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.” He does not say, “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but and “to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. So God, had in mind at this moment, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, all peoples on earth would be blessed.
Abram’s [Delayed] Obedience and Walk by Faith
Faith and Obedience
And so, it was that Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at the well and ventured into that debate and argument between the Jews and the Samaritans back and forth as to where they should worship. He said, “That is not the issue but I will say this, salvation is from the Jews.” Salvation is from the Jews, Jesus was Jewish. In Matthew 1:1, it says, “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Through Jesus Christ, the son of Abraham, all peoples on earth will be blessed. Now, in verses 4 through 9, we see Abram’s delayed obedience and his walk by faith. Now, faith and obedience are meant to go together. Genuine faith results in a lifestyle of obedience. Without the obedience, the faith is dead, it says in the Book of James. And so, faith must result in obedience. We see in Verse 4, Abram left, just as the Lord had told him. Like Noah before him, he was living in moment by moment obedience to God. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went.”
Obedience of Faith Grows Gradually
If you have a faith that does not lead to obedience, you do not have saving faith. Genuine saving faith leads to a pattern of obedience, but that lifestyle of obedience grows gradually. Now, we are going to see over the next few weeks and perhaps months, in the life of Abraham, who became Abraham, a growth of this obedience. Step by step. It is not now what it will be 10 chapters later when, at last, he offers his son Isaac on the altar by faith. So, the faith has got to grow. He has got faith enough to begin, but he doesn't finish the journey. He leaves Ur of the Chaldeans and goes up to Haran but he doesn't leave his father's household, the very thing he was told to do. Terah and Abram go up and they kind of settle down in Haran. God didn't tell them to go to Haran. If you look at Genesis 11:31, it says, “together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.”
Abram’s Journey with God
The NIV translates chapter 12:1, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.’” In this translation they are saying the call had already come before they settled in at Haran, and it makes sense. Abram gets up, he and his father kind of go up the fertile crescent, begin that 1,000-mile journey to the promised land along the river, the Tigris-Euphrates valley, and they settle down in Haran. They are not there yet, and why? I think it is because Abram can't leave his idolatrous pagan father behind. Terah doesn't want to go, and Abram doesn't want to leave him. It is what we call partial obedience. He leaves the place, but he doesn't leave his father. It reminds me of Matthew 8:21-22. “Another disciple said to Him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ But Jesus told him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.’” Later, Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” God had called him to leave his idolatrous father. Abram wanted to wait till his father died. Now, listen. Finally, Abraham left and his father died. Listen, in Haran, 60 years after Abraham left him in Haran. Sixty years. Isaac was born 35 years later. Do you understand what I'm saying? If he had waited for his father to die, he never would have gone. He would have stayed in Haran and he would have died in Haran and, Isaac, the child of promise would never have been born. He had to obey fully. Leave your Father, the one who is worshipping the god, the moon god and all the other gods there in Haran, leave him behind and go to the land I will show you. And so, he did.
Sometimes God calls you to make a decisive break, even with your own family. That's something I faced when I went to Japan. It was a challenge for me, it was difficult, but God called me to do that. He's calling the Collys and the Maugers and scores of other missionaries, to leave behind both believing and unbelieving parents and go to the land that God is showing them to serve Him. Now, as he travels by faith, he wanders. Look at verse 6. “Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem,” led step by step through the land, he was living in a tent. The Canaanites were still in the land, still owning it, and they would still be in the land when Abram, rather Abraham, finally died. But then God, now that he has arrived in the Promised Land, advances the promise. Look at verse 7, “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring, I will give this land.’” Now, notice he didn't say anything about that with the first call. He said, just “go to the land I will show you.”
Once he got there, he said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” We now have the two aspects of the promise to Abraham. Multiple offspring, descendants and the promised land, we are going to see this repeated and enhanced again and again. So then as a result of his faith, Abraham believed Him, he trusted Him, and he built an altar to show his faith. Like his ancestor, Seth, he called on the name of the Lord and sacrificed to God.
Now, what kind of application can we take from Genesis 12:1-9? Well, I think the Collys and the Maugers are going to come up in a moment and talk about their call. I already know what application there is in their lives. They are literally going to leave and follow in the footsteps of the faith their father, Abraham, had. They are going to leave this country and they are going to go as missionaries.
Well, what about we who are still here? First of all, more than anything, I want to urge you to come to the faith of Abraham. If you don't have the faith of Abraham, you are lost. You are still under your sins. You have to come to faith in Christ and trust in Him. You have to hear his voice. He may be calling you to do some difficult thing, to leave behind sin and leave behind friends and even family who are unbelievers, and courageously trust Christ, believe in Christ for your salvation. But having already done that, then what? Is your life of faith over? Is that it? The only journey of faith is walking the aisle and coming to faith in Christ in the beginning? Not at all. Now, step by step, God is calling on you. Calling on you to follow in the footsteps of Abraham. And what does that mean? God cares still about the peoples. Can I give you some specific things to be involved in? First of all, look at the peoples. How can you do that? Well, when I was in college, I got hold of something called the Global Prayer Digest. Global Prayer Digest, I am going to put information about this in next week's bulletin. You can get it on the internet for free, or you can order it for $6. Every day of the month, they give you an unreached people group. They describe what life is like. They tell you what the history is, and you can pray for them. When I was in college, I adopted an unreached people group and prayed for them for 10 years.
There are now 30,000 or 40,000 Christians in that unreached people group. Do I consider myself personally responsible? Not in any way. But I feel very much like I bought shares in Microsoft in 1984 because there were no Christians there, and now there's 30,000 of them. And I'll tell you what? The shares I have in that is far more valuable than any Microsoft stock I would have had, which I don't. I bought shares in what God was doing there. Adopt an unreached people group. This is a direct fulfillment of what God promised Abraham. Through your offspring, all peoples on earth will be blessed. Pray for the Maugers and the Collys. They are going to tell you how in a few moments, but make a commitment to pray for them. Maybe between now and the end of the year, and then if God calls you to re-up, then pray for them some more. Consider going on a short-term mission trip. We have missionaries going out to the far east very soon on short-term missions. Consider going in the future and support them in prayer. There's a bulletin insert where you can commit yourself to praying for them.