One by one, they filed out of the church van with backpacks and carry-on bags in tote — much like a special ops force exiting their vehicle for the next assignment. Similar to the church in Antioch in Acts 13, Redemption Hill Baptist Church has sent its best multiple times. For the Nick Moore family of nine from RHBC, it’s their second deployment to Africa. They are returning after a short time back in the states to continue their ministry of evangelism, discipleship, church planting and theological training.
As their seven kids laid down their backpacks and bags (and one giant stuffed unicorn), they marched to the back of the van where the trailer was connected. Inside were 27 suitcases filled with supplies they might need back home in Africa. Each person rolled, dragged or carried a bag into the airport for check-in. There were no sad faces, no ‘I-don’t-wanna-go’ attitudes. Not that there weren’t any moments wrestling with these feelings, but at this point the Moore family had their faces set like flint toward Africa. They are cream-of-the-crop, yet there was a determination in this family that I was surprised to observe on departure day.
As we watched them check their bags and then walk with them toward the you-can’t-go-any-farther-without-a ticket spot, we prayed together. I was reminded of the words of William Carey, the father of modern missions, who before leaving for India told his band of Christian friends, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.”
The Great Commission is for every believer, but not every believer is called to live cross-culturally. However, some are. Andrew Fuller, one of Carey’s closest friends, took it upon himself to not only lead the Baptist Mission Society, but to do so by preaching and urging people to either be sent or support those who are sent.
We need people who will climb into the pit, but also people who will hold the rope for them. There are many ways we can be rope holders as Kentucky Baptists. Our giving and our praying are two vital ways in which we hold the rope for our missionaries. The Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and Eliza Broadus offerings are immeasurable. Whether engaging missions in Kentucky, North America or internationally, our giving allows missionaries to go to places in need of the gospel.
While we give to support missionaries and the work of the gospel globally, there is one avenue of our rope holding that is often underestimated. Our praying. Whereas our dollars are limited, our prayers are not. The God of heaven delights in the prayers of his people — especially as we pray for our missionaries who are seeking to make Him known.
As I watched the Moore family weave through the security line at the airport, I thought to myself, “Why would anyone — let alone a family of nine — leave their home in the U.S., pack 27 suitcases plus carry-on bags to head to another culture?” The answer: only God! While they were resolute in getting there, days will come when they wonder, “Why are we here?” On days like that, as well as every other day, they need a band of brothers and sisters halfway around the world holding the rope — praying that God will supply every need and strengthen and encourage them through His Spirit and Word.
Thus, there are only two ways to obey the Great Commission — either climb into the pit or hold the rope.
Doug Williams is a missions strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.