Recently, after a Fantastic Saturday, someone asked, “Can I become a missionary?” As we talked, it was easy to see that he wanted God to use him, but thought that the only way to serve God was to become a preacher or missionary. His first need was to study his Bible and get involved in his local church. When we finished talking, with a big smile he said, “Thank you. I will serve God in my church.”
Some people think God cannot use them because they cannot become preachers, missionaries, Christian school teachers, or as some other “full-time” servant. But not everyone can be the leader in front of others. God has especially gifted some people as “helpers.”
There are many Bible examples of God using laymen. A layman is an ordinary church member – not an ordained minister, and maybe not a Bible expert.
Aquila and Priscilla (Romans 16:3) were called “helpers in Christ.” They were not ministers, but had learned much from the Apostle Paul. When they realized Apollos needed further training, they humbly and privately taught him. Their “helps” ministry helped produce a great leader.
John Mark traveled with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but, he later left them and went back to his home in Jerusalem (Acts 13:5,13). This caused a big disagreement between Paul and Barnabas. Much later, he returned to his “helping” ministry. Then Paul said John Mark was “profitable” to him for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11).
Other “helpers” in the Bible include Epaphroditus, who “ministered to” Paul (Phil. 2:25), Luke, who was a “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14), Silas, who traveled with Paul (Acts 15:34), Mary Magdalene, who did “what she could” for Jesus (Mark 14:8), and Dorcas, a woman “full of good works” (Acts 9:36). God uses helpers!
Yes, God Can Use Me
Possibly you have thought God cannot use you because of your weaknesses or because you are not comfortable in front of crowds. Much of God’s work does not happen in public. God has gifted people for different parts of ministry. At SWM, my wife, Diane, is not comfortable as a public speaker, but she is a great blessing as our bookkeeper! SWM’s Reed Condra is a gracious helper as well as an effective teacher. Just as God used John Mark and others, God can use you in your area of expertise and within your spiritual gifts.
God Does Call Some – The SWM motto is, “‘But we will give ourselves… to the ministry of the Word’ – to Deaf people worldwide” (Acts 6:4). It is amazing how much help is needed to accomplish that goal! God brought volunteers to help.
Silent Word Mission Board (SWMB) – In 1998, Allen Snare joined SWM as our first Deaf missionary, and the SWMB was established. Soon, others joined as missionaries to go “into all the [Deaf] world.” In 2005, with SWM International, the doors opened for foreign missionaries to the Deaf. Many local volunteers were needed to help with many areas of the ministry and around the SWM office. Then, some began to help from a distance.
Ministry of Helps – The SWM Ministry of Helps began to help qualified laymen, retirees, or those with some other source income, to help SWM. Under this program, they regularly help SWM and raise only supplemental support to for their ministry needs. Several of these also share the Gospel in our Marketplace Ministry (flea markets and fairs). The Lord has used this ministry to bring many people to Christ!
Volunteers – We are thankful for the many volunteers who help. This is a missionary ministry. SWM’s Jim Bracelin said it best, “Everyone here is either a volunteer or a missionary (who must raise his own support) – from the founder, Ted Camp, down.” With no “paid” staff, in 2016 God used the ministries at SWM to see 726 reported salvation decisions from both deaf and hearing people. Wow & PTL!
Has God touched your heart to help SWM? Contact Jon Barr by clicking here for more information. We are here to serve.