SmythsInPNG's Weblog

Advocacy

Advocate  – 1) Verb.  To speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly.  2) Noun. A person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually fol. by of): an advocate of peace.  3) Noun.   A person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor

Advocacy –  Noun.  The act of advocating, or speaking or writing in support of someone or something.   The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.

The role of advocacy in our ministry is large.  Early in my teenage years I desired to reach remote people the message of life in Jesus Christ.   Who, me?  How?  After growing up in a foreign country and spending more than ten years of training for missionary work in six different states I knew a lot of people a little bit and had worked in several churches as a Sunday School teacher or Youth leader but had no real roots in any one location from which to draw to begin a career ministry overseas.  This is where advocacy really helped.

My biggest advocates were my parents praying for me daily and bringing me before their church for prayer regularly. They introduced me at their own speaking engagements around the country.  I shared my desire to speed the gospel to the tribes.  From their relationships, God raised up people in several states who have supported me and Diana in ministry for decades. 

Advocacy also came from friends.  They asked, “What can we do to help?” One couple sponsored a reception at their local church.  People came from all over the state that day to visit and send me on in ministry.  A sponsorship into a Vacation Bible School resulted in the church’s support that has continued to this day.  

Another friend drove me in his car four hours away to introduce me to his former home church.  We were warmly received and that church began praying and giving to support the ministry God has given.  More than fifteen years later that body of believers in Christ also continues to enable our ministry in Papua New Guinea through prayer and gifts.

Before my first “official” Home Assignment a friend introduced me to someone who sponsored me into his home church; organizing housing for me, arranging meeting in homes, opening opportunities to teach Sunday School and to speak in front of the church.  That church has continued to increase involvement in our ministry; sending work teams to assist us, praying, giving and supporting us in many ways.

Some of my best relationships have resulted from one person introducing me to another.  I was introduced to my wife through one of her friends who was actively praying and working to meet Diana’s desire to find a spouse of like mind and heart.

The chairman of the Missions Committee at a supporting church became aware of our need to resolve some ministry moving expenses still hanging over our head two years after our move in 2007.  One of his ideas was to contact all of our supporting churches and inquire about working together to bring this matter to conclusion.  I must admit I balked at the idea of sending out a letter asking them to give to this project.  Perhaps it was born of American cultural pride that I should ever ask for money for myself.  What a selfish and self-centered idea that was!  … As if we were living in Papua New Guinea for our own comfort!! No, it is a good thing to allow God’s people to become aware of ways that they can help us become more effective in ministry.

The more we build relationships here in a foreign country, the less we are able to build new relationships or maintain past relationships at home.  We greatly value our relationship with each of you who have so heavily invested in us. The longer we are overseas, the more important relationships built in the past become; and more distant.

As our advocacy for the people of PNG continues, we appreciate you being our advocates in the USA while we are unable to be there to represent our ministry and the people of Papua New Guinea!  We appreciate your faithful generous gifts.  We appreciate your advocacy in prayer before our God Who has ALL power.  We appreciate you representing us to those who do not know us there where you are and bringing us to memory before those who do know us.  God is our Provider and Sustainer and He has chosen to use you to be His vehicles to provide, support and encourage us.  

Thank you for being His vessels!

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