Is your Vineyard church involved in a missions partnership yet? If not, why not? Perhaps you’ve run into roadblocks or you don’t know where to start. Maybe you think your church is too small or you don’t have the money? You’re not alone. But let’s not just leave it there. Let’s push into those hesitations.
Tim Mengler, the Pastor of Crystal Lake Vineyard in Illinois and the Partnership Leader for the Mozambique Partnership, has asked to share his story and experience with missions partnerships. We are exploring how he’s faced these struggles and overcome them.
This is part 5 of a 7-part series. Click on these links for previous releases:
- Part 1: You’re never too small & it’s never too early
- Part 2: Where do I start?
- Part 3: The issue of money
- Part 4: Won’t it be a distraction?
They need relationship
I have also seen churches involved in mission as a sporadic or hit-and- miss approach…a little here and a little there. This is a mistake on many levels. What our international partners really need is relationship. What we all really need is relationship. It's family. We're a family. We need to be fully invested in each other's lives.
I was recently having a conversation with Savimbe, our leader from Mozambique. He had come to the States for the first time to attend the international Global Family Conference held in July 2015 at Vineyard Columbus. As we were talking throughout the week, he kept mentioning to me all these different people who had come to Mozambique to work for a while. Then they would leave and never be heard from again. I couldn't believe how many times this had happened. I felt grieved by this. I felt the heart of God grieving. I was grieved for Savimbe – heartbroken really. I also just knew this wasn't right. It's not how missions and ministry are done. So my wife and I talked it over and right there on the spot at the conference made a commitment. We told Savimbe that we were committing ourselves to the work in Mozambique for the rest of our lives. We would never leave. We also told Savimbe we were committing ourselves to him for the rest of our lives – that we will stand with him and his ministry until the day we die. He looked at us stunned, and with moist eyes said, "This is an answer to prayer. Now the mission can accomplish much." This was followed by a most precious group hug. What he needed far more than money or advice from Americans was committed relationship. This is all any of our international partners are really looking for. This is why when people visit our church here, they see such a heart and a passion for missions and for Africa. We are now one with them. We are family. We are committed to relationship – not just missions as a project or concept.
What breaks my heart is this map we have of Africa. Jim Pool put together a map of Africa that shows every nation and where there is a Vineyard work happening. There are so many African nations that either have Vineyard churches, but they don't have a partnership, or there are no Vineyard churches there at all. I want to adopt them all, every last one. But there is only so much room in my heart and life for this kind of committed relationship. Plus, I want others to be able to share in the extraordinary blessings of international missions. I am sure there is also a similar map for South America, Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, etc. There are lots of nations and people groups that don't have a Vineyard or there are Vineyard churches operating without a partnership. I know of one African nation that has over 30 Vineyard churches and yet no partnership. I know of one African nation with one or two faithful Vineyard churches and no partnership. What they are looking for is someone to say, "We care. We care about you. We care about your nation and your people group. We care about your spiritual life. We want to see your nation won for Jesus, and we believe that if we stand together we can see that happen.” They are looking for people to say, “We want to be in relationship with you – for life.”
Tim & Amy Mengler planted the Vineyard of Crystal Lake Illinois just outside Chicago in 2005. As a church their first foray into mission was with the Senegal partnership. Then toward the end of 2013 they were invited to join the work that God was doing in Mozambique. Tim and Amy took their first trip to Mozambique in June of 2014 and of course fell in love with the people and the nation of Mozambique. Tim now leads the U.S. side of this partnership.