By Ryan Shaw
This week we are considering the Great Commission role of mission advocates. We’ve already considered the calling of message bearers and teams, global harvest intercessors, extraordinary givers and mission mobilizers.
Mission advocates play an often overlooked role in the mission movement. Yet, it is a vital role without which we would not be as aware of what God is doing around the world. I am convinced many more believers have the role of mission advocate though at present they may not be aware of it.
Mission advocates are similar to the role of mission mobilizers yet with a different twist. Whereas mobilizers often see themselves contributing to the entire process of how believers and churches mature to be and do all that Christ is calling them to live, practice and accomplish, advocates focus on helping others in the body understand specific areas of focus within the mission movement.
Advocates bring attention to, shine a spotlight on and educate the body about particular places, mission challenges or types of ministries often misunderstood. This might include advocating for a particular needy nation or people group rarely considered or for justice issues such as the global problem of trafficking.
Advocates help other believers understand the issues surrounding their particular area of advocacy, to care and become involved in many different ways. They are a voice on behalf of the particular ones they are advocating.
They may advocate through one on one interaction within their circles of friends, through asking their local church or campus ministry if they can share about their area of focus and by sharing with small groups who might be willing to listen.
Advocates are consistently looking for opportunities and settings to bring attention to the area God has put on their heart. No matter how big or small a group may be, advocates want to share and help believers understand the situation or people they are advocating for.
They are usually not a leader in the traditional sense of having a position on a church or ministry organizational chart. Instead, they influence through relationships and informal ways and settings.
Though advocates may be fulltime teachers, engineers, students, doctors or moms, they use their extra time and energy to help others grapple with big picture global issues related to the Great Commission.
Advocates are developed over years as they fellowship with God, allowing Him to burden them with the plight of a particular segment of society and the world. Eventually the Lord gives a vision providing the ability to put feet to a burden.
This may mean the individual actually going and directly having an impact on the area of focus yet it often means receiving a vision for how to help others learn about the problem and begin themselves to care about it.
Along an advocate’s journey God has opened their eyes to a particular problem or place. Over time this eye-opening has become a burden to the point where they feel they have to help in some small way. As they pray about what to do, the Spirit gives them a vision of advocating among others to bring focus to this issue among more believers.
In this way the Holy Spirit uses diverse experiences and burdens in His body as a means of waking others up who may have had no understanding of that Great Commission issue.
Advocates then seek to learn everything they can about their area of advocacy. If it is a country, they want to research everything possible about the people and their lives, even visiting the place if possible. If it is a justice issue, they go way below the surface issues to understanding the driving factors of that problem in the world.
Maybe a doctor is passionate about clean water issues globally or the problem of overcoming malaria. Or an Engineer has seen the plight of the North Koreans in spiritual darkness and helps other believers from his home country understand the real situation among them.
Maybe a student is becoming passionate about how God is using rapid reproduction church planting movements among unreached people groups. Or a mom wants to bring attention to the problem of trafficking globally.
Whatever the area of Great Commission focus, advocates are committed to stewarding the relationships and means God has given them to help grow understanding and vision in that area.
We need many more believers willing to allow God to grip them as an advocate, using their time and relationships to help others develop a burden in that Great Commission area. What burden has God put on your heart to help others understand, care about and become activated in?