(July 18, 2018) George Forbes, missionary spokesperson, reflects on these four important aspects of missions today…
1, Tentmakers in mission
A respected and decisive part of missions in the 20th century was filled by ‘tentmakers.’ I expect that time will prove that this support to long-term ministry missionaries has continued into the 21 century.
The term comes from the Bible – Dr Luke wrote about Paul in Acts 18:3, ‘Because he was of the same trade, he stayed and worked with them; for they were tentmakers by occupation.’ These were men and women using their professional skills in self-support, as they worked as much as their time permitted while fulfilling the ministry God had given them.
- Over the centuries there have been missionaries who also were ‘tentmakers’ – and ‘tentmakers’ who were not missionaries, however they all supported themselves in practical and active roles in their ministry.
- Many excelled in literature, radio, and other specialised support areas to release missionaries to their primary role as church planters and Bible teachers.
- I met many such ‘tentmakers’ and valued them as worthy servants of God in their field of commitment. I became a friend from Australia as we shared fellowship, meals and worship together.
- Some were builders; others were teachers, printers, literature and Bible distributors. There were pilots, mechanics, engineers, artisans and other occupations.
- All were committed to the kingdom of God and the growth of national churches.