God calls all Christians to be sowers of His precious gospel to all nations. This of course is not an easy task. We need to count the cost. But the reward outweights the cost. Our ultimate reward: a glorified God through missions. DG got hold of Trent Rollings to talk about mission, culture and SEND Philippines.
Delighting Grace: Hi Trent…so why here in the Philippines? What did you find in the country that lead you to come here?
Trent Rollings: Nitoy, thanks so much for this opportunity to share my story. My first opportunity to come to the Philippines was back in 2005 on a short-term missions team. To be honest, before that trip I knew very little about the Philippines and really had no desire to even visit Asia or to become involved in long-term missions. At that time I had just graduated and just wanted to go on short-term missions in Africa. God had other plans, however, and so my team was sent to the Philippines instead.
We ended up staying in the Philippines for 2 months travelling throughout Luzon putting on evangelistic events, and to my surprise I loved it here. It was also on that trip that I felt a calling for me to be in long-term missions, although I didn’t know that I would eventually return here. It was only during a second short-term trip to the Philippines 2 years later also for missions that I really heard the calling to come back to the Philippines as long-term missionary (minimum 4-year term).
Delighting Grace: As we talk over Facebook and Twitter, you really know some Tagalog, which is so cool.So how does language barrier affect missions to other foreign country? How long do you have to adjust also interms of the culture?
Trent Rollings: Haha ya, I was required by SEND to learn Tagalog when I arrived. In fact, all of our long-term missionaries are required to spend one to two years learning the local language and culture once they arrive in the country where they will serve. I found this time really challenging. It’s difficult to learn a new culture and language. It is like learning how to live in a whole new world. Looking back, however, I was so thankful for the time to settle in and just focus on the language and culture first instead of having to jump right in to ministry.
Language and cultural barriers can have a huge affect on your mission in another country. If you don’t take the time to learn the local culture and language you will have a hard time building deep relationships which could affect the opportunities you have to disciple people into a relationship with Jesus. Not learning the language and culture can also communicate to the people your are ministering among that in order for them to become a Christian they need to adopt your culture and way of life, which is simply not true. This is why SEND and many other organizations wants their missionaries to learn the language first before diving in to ministry. This principal is modelled after Jesus’ ministry where he gave up heaven and lived life as one of us on earth (Philippians 2:5-8.)
Delighting Grace: What are the common excuse why Pinoy Christians don’t consider missions? And how do you address them?
Trent Rollings: There are a lot of barriers keeping Christians from getting involved in missions. Two common barriers to missions for Filipinos are family responsibilities and the illusion that the Filipino church does not have enough money to support missionaries.
There are a number of different ways that we mobilizers address these issues. It is important to acknowledge the challenges that come with going on missions as well as the sacrifices that missionaries have to make to bring the gospel to unreached people groups. Luke 14 talks about the cost of being a disciple and the importance of counting that cost. When it comes to missions, you will have to leave your mother, father, sister, brother, friends and start a new life in a different part of the world. This is extremely difficult and should not be taken lightly. In Luke 14 it says that a disciple must love and be committed to God in such a way that his love for his family in contrast to his/her love for God looks like hate. As I was preparing to leave my family and friends I realized how short this life really is when we compare it to eternity. I felt God saying that I am in a season right now to work hard, make sacrifices, and be away from family and friends in order to further his Kingdom. Once this life is over, we will enter an eternity where we never have to say goodbye and when sacrifices made are a distant memory.
When it comes to whether or not the Filipino church has enough money to support missions, the fact is, there is absolutely enough money in the Philippines to support a great amount of missionaries! Now true, there are some very poor churches here, but there are also some very rich churches. If believers start to sow into missions like we are called to do, we could send out so many more fully supported missionaries. The way that we address this is to raise more awareness that every believer is called to be sacraficially involved in missions to the ends of the earth. If God’s will is for you to stay in the Philippines and to work, you are called to be a SENDer and to sacrificially invest your money into the Kingdom in support of missionaries and missions projects.
So basically, the biggest hindrance to missions is the price you have to pay to further God’s Kingdom. It’s important that we mobilizers are open and honest about the costs and sacrifices that need to be made but it is also equally important to help people realize that they are not doing this on their own strength and resources but on God’s. I have seen time and time again that when times have gotten difficult for me, God sustains and blesses abundantly in the midst of challenging times. So much so that I often hear missionaries say that they wouldn’t want to do anything else and that their years in missions have been the best years of their lives. In fact this reality is Biblical as seen in Mark 10:29-30:
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as muchAA)” style=”font-weight:bold;vertical-align:top”> in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to comeAB)” style=”font-weight:bold;vertical-align:top”> eternal life.”
Delighting Grace: As you already know the Philippines is a “Christian country” although the biblical one came late. So how can you share Jesus to a country that already knows “Jesus died on the cross for your sin” or “all you need is faith”?
Trent Rollings: This is a challenge that I have faced many times when it comes to sharing the gospel. It is important to first and foremost realize that it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible for working in the hearts of those we are sharing the gospel to. We cannot, by our own power, help people to see the differences between just following a list of do’s and don’ts and having a real relationship with their creator.
For me, when I share Jesus, I try to first build bridges between myself and the person by showing the similarities between Christianity and Catholicism. Both beliefs are talking about Jesus, both look to the Bible as truth. After acknowledging the similarities, I then point out the differences. The main thing to realize with Catholicism is that those who believe it are knowingly or unknowingly living under the weight of guilt and shame and the pressure to somehow pay for the blessings they receive or God’s love. The truth that we cannot possibly pay for our sins, no matter how hard we try can be devastating and leave a person feeling helpless, until you point to a better way, Jesus. Sharing with them that he is the one who already paid for their sins and that they just need to believe this and accept his free gift of forgiveness rather than work and try to be good enough is often received as a much desired freedom.
Regardless of who you are sharing with, it is important to remember that there is no one model of sharing the gospel that fits for everyone. It is important to love the person where they are at and to share the gospel in a way that connects with that individual person and their needs.
Delighting Grace: How do you prepare for your speaking engagement?
Trent Rollings: I try not to take too many speaking engagements on short notice. I find it very valuable to think about messages that I will give over a few weeks. Once I know that I am speaking on a topic, my awareness is heightened and so when I hear about something that might pertain to the topic/passage I am speaking on, I will lock on to that. That is often how I get illustrations and message ideas.
For me, the biggest factor that affects whether or not I am an effective speaker and preacher of God’s word is my own intimacy with God first. When I have an upcoming speaking engagement that I am preparing for, I first do a heart check on myself and ensure that I am walking in tune with the Holy Spirit and am delighting myself in the Lord.
Delighting Grace: What’s the most memorable speaking engagement you had here?
Trent Rollings: Probably my speaking engagements at Messiah College in Ortigas Center have been the most memorable for me. The energy, enthusiasm, and receptiveness of the students always makes speaking there enjoyable and very worthwhile. For a speaker, an active and engaged audience is always a blessing.
Delighting Grace: What is SEND? How did you get involved in the organization?
Trent Rollings: SEND International is a church planting organization that focuses specifically on starting churches among unreached people groups (people groups with less than 2% believers.) SEND was started in the Philippines back in 1945 and was involved in planting many churches and starting organizations and schools in the Philippines. In 2009, we started looking at the Philippines as a missionary “sending” country rather than a “receiving” country. Now, our ministry here in the Philippines is mainly focused on recruiting, training, and sending out Filipinos as missionaries to Asia, Europe, and North America.
I first came into contact with SEND here in the Philippines back in 2005 when I came to the Philippines as a short-termer.
SEND was the organization that hosted our team. I really felt like SEND was a good fit for me and I really connected with their vision for their ministry. When I felt God calling me back to the Philippines for long-term missions, SEND was naturally the first organization that I considered joining and God opened the door for that to happen.
Delighting Grace: Wow thank you for your time Bro. Trent for this insightful interview. Please invite us in your blog, website and of course SEND. What can we expect in your ministry?
Trent Rollings: Yes, please feel free to check out my blog at http://www.trentrollings.net where I blog on topics relating to the church, leadership, and missions.
I also encourage everyone reading this, that if you are a believer you DO have a calling to be involved in missions. The Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20 is directed to all believers. There are many ways to be involved in missions, not necessarily just by going to another country. If you would like to find out the opportunities for you to get involved in missions, please feel free to check out SEND’s website at http://www.pscsend.org. Myself or one of our other missions representatives would love to talk with you and pray with you about your calling to missions and how to live that out. We have many opportunities for you to be involved in short or long-term missions as well as for you to support our current missionaries.