TWR Canada past-president Ray Alary blogged every Thursday, telling behind-the-scenes stories and ministry updates you won't find anywhere else. You can still access his stories and read about his time as a missionary with TWR.
One person goes to school to train to be an actor; another trains to be a diesel mechanic and an electrician; another is a certified accountant; one has spent years building churches in America, and another is involved in road construction. You may be asking, what has this got to do with missions? The answer probably isn’t what you are expecting: these are the backgrounds of people who are serving with TWR, either in a home office or somewhere around the world. Their backgrounds are quite varied, and most you wouldn’t associate as training for mission work. Yet God doesn’t always work in the way we expect. He doesn’t always do the obvious.
I remember telling a friend that I couldn’t be a missionary. After all, I had no Bible school; I had nothing to offer. Fortunately for me, that person let me ramble on and then said, “I believe that God can use you.” Their vision wasn’t for me to serve using my technical skills, but that didn’t really matter. It started the process that has brought me to where I am today. It got me to take the first step in the process, and the rest is history.
As you know, I have competed 30 years of service with TWR Canada this year. Recently I had a discussion with someone about Christ’s 12 disciples and how they seemed an unlikely group to establish the church as we know it today. In today’s world, they would never have been viewed as qualified to serve in this capacity. Not one of them went to Bible school or had “official” qualifications for church planting. In fact, until God called them into ministry, they were fishermen and were seemingly content in that role. Like me, they started the journey with no apparent qualifications for the role.
As I have travelled around the world, I have discovered that TWR is not unique in allowing people like myself to serve. The commonality to all missions is that God stretches out his hand to people from all walks of life and calls them into ministry. This hasn’t changed. However, the way we do missions has.
Thirty years ago when I went to Bonaire, we had over 50 families on the island, and a good portion of those families were from Latin America and the Caribbean. Without the communication tools we have today, they needed to be physically onsite to do production for their countries of origin. These families were missionaries.
In 1993, the technology had advanced to the point where nationals could produce programs in their home countries, and we could use wireless technology to get the programs to Bonaire for airing. This was the beginning of TWR redefining what missionary mobilization looked like. The needs never changed; the location of where missionaries served was the thing that changed.
Today TWR uses modern technology to let people serve in missions in new and unique ways. We still have the need for technicians to serve at our transmitter sites. We still need people with specialized skills to serve in our offices around the world, but it is no longer limited to that. There are possibilities to serve without going anywhere.
It has been exciting to be back in Canada and see how God continues to bring people through our doors who are uniquely qualified to play a role in missions. Since our return, God has allowed us to have a part in sending missionaries to serve in Bolivia, China, Africa, Europe, Central Asia and here in Canada. In a number of cases, we have tested new missionary models. For example, in the past the sending mission was responsible for all costs associated with the missionary. Today, that cost is sometimes shared with the church in the country they are serving in. In other cases, people immigrated to Canada and then have been called back to their own countries as missionaries; this works very well as they go to the mission field having a familiarity with the culture and language.
Missions today is people serving from every tribe, every country, every background … everyone working together to fulfill Matthew 28. Regardless of where they are and the specific role they play, they are united in taking the message of hope to a world desperate for peace.
Is God calling you? For those of you who have a calling to serve in any way, we invite you to check out our Serve page and call or email to talk to us about it! I can tell you that it’s one exciting journey!