What a great Convention! Having just returned from the National Missionary Convention, I marvel at the excitement and the blessings of such an event. The Missionary Convention has grown significantly in recent years, precisely because of the excitement and enthusiasm that makes attendance a thrilling event that leaves everyone animated about becoming a part of the church’s worldwide missionary outreach. There is simply nothing else like this event anywhere else in our country or in the world. If you missed the Missionary Convention this year, you missed the opportunity to recharge your batteries and to develop a greater vision for and means to participate in the growth of your own local church and of the church around the world.

The Missionary Convention was held in Tulsa, Oklahoma this year. It was a long drive and I nearly decided not to go. The expense of driving that far gave me second thoughts. Then I had a chance to car-pool out and at the same time the price of gasoline was dropping. I rely on the Convention every year to recharge my own batteries and to rebuild the enthusiasm that wanes a bit over the long year of hard work and the sometimes tedious nature of ministry. So the Missionary Convention is an important part of my own ministry, both because of what I receive, and because it is a means by which I can contribute to others.

The Convention provides also provides a convenient location for meetings and networking with other missionaries with whom I am involved in specific projects. There are meetings on translation and printing as well as providers of scholarships and social projects. At one location I can have meetings that would be very costly and time consuming to arrange if done separately. So the Missionary Convention has a utilitarian function as well.

I am available for teaching and preaching there as well. I had two workshops this year. In one I worked with brother Bob Reece, the missions professor of Roanoke Bible College, in the area of avoiding the creation of economic dependency. It was well attended and the discussion afterward was lively and focused. We dealt with the problems involved with paying national preachers or in sending them out as missionaries because of the damaging effect this has on the indigenous church in a country. For the second workshop, I was the moderator and a speaker at a workshop on presenting the Gospel to people who adhere to other religions. We had speakers who dealt with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Animism. A speaker on Islam had to withdraw due to health problems in his family. I dealt with syncretistic forms of Christianity as a means of drawing the workshop together and applying the principles to church work here in the States.

One final area where I serve at the Missionary Convention is in the role of a “spare tire.” As you all know, a spare tire is something that is old and a bit worn out and that you hope you will not have to use, but that you keep around just in case. And when it is needed, you hope there is enough “hot air” left in it to get you through your predicament. At the Missionary Convention I gladly fulfill this role. I am available to do just about anything at the drop of a hat. This year, only one hour before a workshop in the teen convention, the missionary was called away for a family emergency. I received a cell phone call and was asked to fill in so I rushed from my lunch to meet with a group of about forty teens in the afternoon session. In that way, we did not have to cancel the session and hopefully, the teens were not too disappointed with getting a “spare tire” to replace the original speaker.

I would encourage everyone to make a point of attending the National Missionary Convention every year. It is well worth the effort and the expense and should serve you well on a personal level as well as improving your effectiveness in your own local congregation; whether that be simply as a member, or as a leader in the outreach and growth of the church. Join me next year at the Convention, which will be meeting in Peoria, Illinois the week before Thanksgiving.