Editor’s Note: From its inception, the women in the PCA have loved on and supported the denomination in practical ways. One way has been through the annual women’s ministry love gift. This year, the women’s ministry of the PCA is praying for and partnering with the different agencies and committees of the denomination regionally. Throughout the year, we will highlight the committees and agencies to learn more about what they do and how we can pray for them.
I recently interviewed Lloyd Kim, coordinator of Mission to the World (MTW), about their work.
Christina: Can you tell us a bit of the history of MTW and its relationship with the PCA?
Lloyd: Sure—and I will give you the brief version. After the PCA formed in 1973, Mission to the World was immediately organized as the missions sending agency of the PCA, tasked with carrying out the Great Commission. We started out with 11 missionaries in four countries and then began to grow rapidly. In 1982, World Presbyterian Missions (from the Reformed Presbyterian Church—Evangelical Synod) joined with MTW, adding even more missionaries. God has continued to bless MTW and we now have 630 long-term missionaries, 88 two-year missionaries, and over 700 national partners serving in 95 countries. This growth has occurred under the direction of some very capable and godly leaders: John Kyle, Paul McKaughan, and Paul Kooistra. When we look back on our history, we are deeply grateful to God for the solid foundation and heritage He has given us.
Christina: What is your role for MTW?
Lloyd: As coordinator of MTW, one of my main tasks is to promote MTW’s mission, vision, and values within our denomination as well as in the larger missions community. What does that mean? It means that I serve as a key public face for MTW, representing our mission and its values to our constituents and potential partners. So—lots of travel, speaking, developing relationships; and there’s a commitment to fundraising for MTW as part of all that. Overseeing MTW’s financial stability and growth is part of my job—making sure that we’re good stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us and that we remain financially healthy.
But we also want MTW to be spiritually healthy, so another aspect of my job involves tending to the spiritual vitality of the organization. We want to build a grace-based culture that encourages integrity, transparency, and mutual support. We also want a workforce that better reflects the diversity of the kingdom. These values have resulted in projects like our diversity initiative and efforts to expand opportunities for women in our organization.
Finally, I provide leadership for our senior staff as we work together to focus our ministry efforts on our vision: fulfilling the Great Commission by establishing, growing, and maturing churches around the world. One of the challenges we face is that missions looks a lot different than it did even 10 years ago. The landscape is changing and we’re constantly looking for new channels and new methods for recruiting and sending missionaries. We’ve also just come through some pretty major infrastructure changes to support the growth that we’re praying about and planning for in our future missions force.
These are some major aspects of my job. There’s more, but hopefully this will give you some idea of my role. I’m grateful that I serve with gifted and dedicated leaders who are vital in helping to accomplish all of this.
Christina: What is the 1% Challenge?
Lloyd: Simply put, we’re challenging all PCA churches to pray that God will raise up 1% of their church members to serve as missionaries in the next 10 years. If every PCA church began praying this way, we could end up sending more than 2,800 workers across the globe. Think of what God can do, will do, with 2,800 new missionaries!
This vision of raising up more missionaries started in 2012 as a smaller vision to pray for 150 missionaries. We knew that because of anticipated retirements, our mission force was going to radically decrease within two years. When God answered our prayer for 150 new missionaries, we realized that our vision needed to be much bigger than just maintaining our current force. After all, MTW’s vision is the gospel of the kingdom advancing throughout the world. So we asked, “What would a kingdom-advancing prayer look like?” After much prayer and reflection, we decided to ask churches to begin praying for 1% of their members to go and serve in global missions. Jesus tells His disciples in His Word to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). We’d love to have our churches praying boldly with us for those laborers.
Christina: What are vision trips?
Lloyd: Vision trips give people a firsthand look at life and ministry in a specific geographical area. They’re a great way for churches and missions committees to learn about the people and work they’re supporting or considering supporting. Or if you’re someone interested in missions, you can go on a vision trip find out how ministries and teams function in a particular country or city. Many of the trips also involve prayer training and prayer walking so that participants become immediately engaged in deep and purposeful prayer for the ministries and missionaries there. Vision trips can be educational, inspiring, and a huge encouragement to the team on the field.
Christina: What are some the greatest challenges missionaries face today?
Lloyd: Many countries are closing their borders to missionaries. Several of our teams have had to find new locations for ministry in the past few years. Many are waiting to find out if they will be allowed to remain in the countries where they are serving. Some countries have increased their requirements for getting visas, so our missionaries are relying on other talents and skills to be allowed entrance into places where they can have a job but not as a religious worker.
There’s also the constant need for more workers. Our teams see so many needs and possibilities for ministry, but they often don’t have the human resources to move forward.
And of course, most of our missionaries are separated from their extended families. This is always a challenge especially as some face aging parents or separation from their adult children as they move to attend college or start their own families. Our missionaries give up many things to be on the field, but this is one of the greatest challenges.
Christina: How can we be in prayer for MTW and its work?
- Pray boldly with us for 1% of the PCA to commit to serve in global missions.
- Pray for our diversity initiative. We’ve launched groups of African American, Hispanic, and Asian American delegates (called Reformed and Diverse Delegates or RADD) who are helping to share a vision for missions and mobilize missionaries of color throughout our denomination. Pray for God to overcome the many challenges that people of color face in considering a call to missions.
- Pray for our missionaries to thrive where God has placed them. Pray for their marriages, their children, relationships on the field, and for their financial support needs to be fully met.
- Pray for MTW’s leaders to lead with courage and humility.
Christina: What can individual members of the PCA do to support the work of MTW?
Lloyd: Great question. I’d say the three main ways you can support our work are by praying, giving, or going. Support a missionary financially and commit to pray for them regularly. Invite them to speak at your church. Encourage families and young people in your church to participate in a short-term mission trip, or go on a vision trip yourself. We always need volunteers to help support missionaries through caring for their children during area retreats, which are held regionally around the world. But most importantly I would say pray for us, that we would be dependent on Christ in all we do. Unless the Lord builds the house, our labor is in vain.
About the Author:
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including TGC, Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the content editor for enCourage and the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament , Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish, Idols of a Mother’s Heart and Sufficient Hope: Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Moms. Christina serves on the advisory board at Covenant College and is on the national women’s ministry team as Regional Adviser of the Southeast. She prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.