My Brother’s Keeper: The Call to Missions Beyond Familiar Faces

written by Pastor Kris Wilder, youth and children

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Every man for himself!”

I’ve said this jokingly after disturbing a bee’s nest and many other times when self-preservation quickly became my top priority.

Since the beginning of time, man has been tempted to look out for himself at the neglect of others. In Genesis 4, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” to which Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Perhaps surprising to Cain, the answer is and continues to be a resounding “yes!

Our church’s theme for 2024 has been “Bringing the Gospel Home” with an emphasis on sharing the gospel with our relatives. But we were reminded at our annual Missions Conference that our burden should not—cannot—stop there. We are not just responsible to get the good news of Jesus to the souls of those closest to us, but we have been commissioned by the Lord Himself to get the gospel to those furthest from our minds.

Pastor Vradenburgh has said recently that

“The gospel is only good news if it gets there on time.”

We were encouraged and challenged to hear from three veteran missionary families who have rejected an attitude of “every man for himself.” For decades instead, they have embraced their responsibility to make foreign strangers their brothers and sisters as they have cared for their eternal souls.

To Tell the Untold

To seek the unsought
To bring the unbrought
This is God’s great command;
To tell the untold, to bring to the fold,
To let them behold the Christ
Who died for ev’ry land.

Dick Anthony

Russ & Lynn Turner

Friendship has partnered with the Turners for over forty-six years. During that time, Russ and Lynn have traveled throughout the jungles of Latin America embracing the culture of the tribes to which they minister. It was neat to hear how their kindness to the tribal people has opened doors to share the gospel. Russ shared that he often gives a unique gift to the chief of the tribe, which shows that he means them no harm. Lynn gives stuffed animals to the young girls, which wins their affection. It’s such a simple approach, but it’s a wonderful reminder that the root of the gospel is God’s love for all people. We were blessed to hear how the Turners are still being used by God to show His love through them.

Marc & Nancy Blackwell

Through the years, Friendship Baptist Church has had a multi-generational relationship with the Blackwell family. Marc grew up as a missionary kid (son of Marc and Judie Blackwell), and it was encouraging to see that God has given Marc the same burden that He gave his parents. He emphasized the fact that his wife, Nancy, is as vital to their ministry as he is as he showed pictures of her carrying buckets of water on her head and sawing lumber. They both have endured hardship joyfully for the sake of the gospel in South Africa and now in Zimbabwe. The Blackwells had a chance to share some of this joy in our elementary chapel by introducing the kids to a humorous second verse of “Be a Missionary Every Day”—

Be a missionary every day!
Learn to eat whatever comes your way
Be it ants down in your corn chips
Or roaches in you coke
Just don’t let it bug you
Just eat it till you choke!

Be a missionary every day
It may stink but eat it anyway
It may be warm and fuzzy
And sometimes it still moves

You don’t need a skillet
Chew it till you kill it
Be a missionary today…
Let’s eat!

Greg & Wendy Mann

Our church was introduced to the Manns at this year’s conference, but we are so grateful that God allowed us to cross paths. Greg shared that after a year of preaching in Guyana, he was told by a native man that they did not understand what he was saying. Many people speak English in Guyana, but they had no concept of the English words “God” and “love.” We were reminded of the simplicity of the gospel as Greg shared how he used a map to explain that the Creator of the world loves them so much that He sent the Manns all the way from Oregon down to them in Guyana. And we were reminded of the power of the gospel as we heard how God is using those converted through Greg’s preaching to share that same message with others in the country.

🎧 To listen to any of the Mission Conference 2024 services, visit our YouTube channel.

Come join us!

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About Friendship Baptist Church

Our purpose is to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel through the preaching of His Word and the making of disciples. At Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) we teach the Bible in order to facilitate spiritual growth in all of God’s people and to provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. God has graciously used Friendship to further His work both locally and across the globe since 1965.