Confession time: my sons are fans of the Disney animated series Phineas and Ferb. More painful confession time: I have been known to sit and watch episodes with them.
One of my their favorite parts of each episode is when Perry the Platypus–ostensibly a household pet–goes through some amazingly intricate secret portal to HQ, where he assumes his true identity as Agent P.
Agent P’s handler (the guy who appears on the big screen in the above sequence) is a distracted, out-of-touch comic foil who sits in his remote office and gives orders. Meanwhile, the platypus has to continuously face the dangers of his chosen profession–which in his case comes in the form of the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
It would be easy to get the impression that this mirrors the relationship between a missionary and the mission board. The missionary–like the cartoon platypus–faces the rigors of his job, while getting orders from a detached and out-of-the-loop headquarters. I can even imagine how it would be easy for the relationship between missionary and mission board to degenerate to just such a level.
In the instance of our mission board, this is not the case.
I was reminded of this once again as I roamed the halls of the Baptist Mid-Missions home office in Cleveland, OH. There are many good mission boards out there, but BMM has a special, missionary-focused quality. Here is what I mean:
Baptist Mid Missions was founded by a missionary.
I think this is key to what makes BMM somewhat unique among mission boards. They don’t exist to tell the missionary what to do. Rather, they work hard to enable the missionary in what he is doing. And I get the impression that this is something that William Haas, missionary to Africa, ingrained in the culture of the mission agency he started back in the ’20s.
The Home Office staff always have time for the missionaries.
As I went from office to office, never once did I hear anything like “Could you come back later? I’m busy.” In many cases the staff members stopped what they were doing in order to help me. In fact, word spread through the office complex that I was there, and people went out of their way to come and greet me. Even the president took time out to say hello.
Which brings me to the final point:
The BMM home office works along side the missionary, not over him.
One of my meetings was with the financial department, and the subject was our support level (There will be more about this later). As I sat and interacted with the director of that department, I was reminded once again how BMM puts the missionary first. There was no “you must do this or else” attitude. The major question was “what will work best for your ministry?”
In short, we do not have a mission headquarters. We have a home office. And I wouldn’t trade that for any of Agent P’s gadgets (although that flying car is sweet!)
Talk back to the missionary: Got any observations about this subject? If so, leave them in the comments section!
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