LOCAL MISSIONS: ADOPT A LOCAL MISSIONARY
One easy way to get involved in local missions is by supporting (or “adopting”) a local full-time missionary. Sounds like common sense, right?
Local missionaries often don’t get the exposure or support that foreign missionaries do because people often don’t even realize they’re “missionaries” since they’re not doing their work in a foreign country!
Obviously, the good news of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God is needed everywhere, so local and foreign missions are important siblings. And - let’s keep it real - New Jersey ain’t exactly the “Bible-belt”!
PCC has three local, full-time missionaries as part of our congregation: David Mannon, Morgan McGhee, and me (Steve DiSebastian). (“This blog is a bit self-serving, isn’t it, Steve?” you may be thinking. My response: Yes! It certainly is! But that doesn’t mean the information isn’t accurate. In fact, since I’m living as a missionary, I can speak from firsthand experience.)
Below is more information about each missionary and ministry, but take note that all three of our ministries focus on college and high school students. High school and college are key mission fields because not only do a lot of people raised Christian leave the faith in those years, but a lot of people who become life-long Christians make that decision in those same years. So, forget Millennials! They’re so 1996! Generation Z is where it’s at!
If you don’t read any further, here is my easy 1-2-3 advice to you to get involved in local missions: (1) Invite a local missionary for coffee; (2) ask about his or her ministry; and (3) ask how you can help.
It’s really that simple.
As I said, local missionaries are often overlooked, and gaining partnerships can be time-consuming and often unfruitful - especially in a place like NJ. The missionary would greatly appreciate having someone reach out in the opposite direction for once.
Here’s a little more insight in ways you can “adopt” a local missionary.
All ministry is a spiritual battle. One of the most obvious ways all Christians can help is praying for the missionary - his or her work, his or her family, and those the missionary is reaching.
Most missionaries send regular updates with prayer requests (via email or snail mail) to supporters, so make sure the missionary has your information so you can be on his or her mailing list and you know how to best be praying for his or her work.
If a person is a “missionary,” they don’t get a salary. Missionaries live off the financial support of individual Christians like you. If they’re lucky, they may get the support of a large church that covers much of their living expenses, but this is not the norm for missionaries in NJ. As I said, this isn’t the Bible-belt, and churches (especially big ones) are usually approached by many, many missionaries and they can’t support them all. (Also keep in mind, living expenses in NJ are considerably more than much of the rest of the U.S. and overseas, so NJ missionaries need to raise more just to make ends meet.)
“Partnering” with a missionary usually means giving a set amount as a monthly donation. The sum of these monthly donations make the missionary’s “salary.” Today, most missionary organizations have systems where you can have your donation automatically deducted from your credit card or bank account each month. Consider going out to eat one less time a month and giving the money to a missionary instead.
Likewise, missionaries have ministry expenses. Sometimes “adopting” a missionary means being willing to throw in for occasional expenses when needed, such as books and Bibles for small groups, food for gatherings, or guest speaker fees and location rentals.
Ministry can be a lonely calling. Having brothers and sisters in Christ working alongside of you is a huge blessing. Make yourself available for the times the missionary needs more hands on deck. Volunteering can come in many different forms, from making dessert to mentoring students to helping design a website.
Finally, one of the more overlooked ways you can help a missionary is to help him or her make new connections. When a missionary is raising support and developing partnerships, personal connections are always the best bet, but all missionaries eventually run out of personal connections! If you believe the work the missionary is doing is important, connect him or her to other Christians with a heart for the Gospel who may be interested in supporting such work. Helping a missionary get a foot in the door at a church is always welcome as well.
DAVID MANNON - INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS INC. (ISI)
David joined International Students, Inc. as campus staff in July, 2008. During the past nine years, David has served as campus director with ISI at Rutgers University. In this role, he shepherds fellow staff and volunteers, mobilizes local churches for student outreach and pursues the mission of preparing students to become leaders in God’s Kingdom when they return home.
There are many volunteer opportunities with ISI including providing airport pickups, becoming an English Conversation Partner and learning how to make disciples.
David Mannon, Campus Director, Rutgers University
MORGAN MCGHEE - YOUNG LIFE
Young Life doesn't start with a program. It starts with adult leaders who are concerned enough about adolescents (12-23 yrs old) to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don't happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency, but these leaders believe all adolescents deserve a chance to hear about Jesus Christ from a trusted friend.
North Brunswick Young Life launched in 2016, currently has 4 volunteer Young Life leaders, and a weekly club of 40 high school students. We are taking 44 high school students to Young Life’s Saranac Camp July 28th-August 3rd. We believe every middle and high school in New Jersey should have a team of dedicated volunteers reaching students!
Give to North Brunswick Young Life: HERE.
STEVE DISEBASTIAN - RATIO CHRISTI RUTGERS
Ratio Christi does everything a good college ministry should do with the extra element of apologetics added in. “Apologetics” is from a Greek word meaning to defend one’s beliefs. Christian apologetics uses philosophy, history, and science to give logical reasons for believing in the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. At Ratio Christi (Latin for “the logic of Christ”), we believe apologetics and evangelism are inseparable in this time of skepticism. Also, we don’t run from controversial topics but run right at them, training students to tackle them from a biblical worldview.
After being involved with Ratio Christi at Rutgers for several years, Steve officially became a missionary with them in 2018. He’s now a chapter director at Rutgers and regional director for all of NJ.