By now, I’m sure many of our readers are wondering why there has been no mention of Team Timothy ministries, since we usually begin promoting a team shortly after our annual meeting in August for the following year’s ministry. Rest assured, the Team Timothy ministry is alive and well, but the PMU Council has determined to make some needed changes to meet the needs and opportunities that are the reality in our denomination at present.
A bit of history is in order. In 1987, the PMU Council approved a plan to field a “summer support team” to go to Kenya the following year with a second team to Kenya in 1999. Beginning in 2002, the Team Timothy ministry became a regular feature of our outreach efforts. In North America we’ve sent teams to Edmonton, Bonners Ferry, Minerva, Columbia, SC, Knoxville, Grand Island, and Springville. Overseas we’ve gone to Thailand (2x), Bolivia (5x), Cambodia, Brazil (2x), and in the early days, Kenya. Many young people and adults have participated, and through their efforts souls have been saved, hearts encouraged, believers discipled, and the workers themselves have been strengthened for greater labors in their home churches. A few have also given careful consideration to full-time missions work.
Therefore, we believe our Team Timothy program is valid and still needed.
- We have always deliberately avoided letting our teams become “missions tourism” with heavy workloads and long hours the norm.
- We strive to make them as much or more about discipling the participants than anything else.
- We seek out what our hosts want us to do.
- We resist making high demands upon our hosts and provide materials and funds so that the teams do not cost the resident ministries anything that they do not wish to spend.
- We repeatedly emphasize the necessity of learning from the locals, not going in with a superior attitude that we are the ones who are there to save the day.
However, in recent years it has become increasingly difficult to field teams. We’ve even had to cancel a couple of trips that were planned, both domestic and foreign. A number of reasons are possible, but I am sure that increased costs in the midst of a struggling economy and conflicts with busy summer church and camp schedules are two of the big ones.
With all of these thoughts in mind, the PMU Council has set in place a fresh vision for its Team Timothy ministries.
First, we will discontinue sending teams out on an annual basis. Foreign teams will be scheduled bi-annually, unless conditions and needs on a particular field demand otherwise.
Second, the BPC currently does not have any official diaconal ministries as a denomination. Team Timothy ministries can help to fill this void as part of the effort to strengthen the ties between our congregations. Such things as disaster relief, special construction projects, and VBS or evangelistic work projects that a local church or mission field might request are all opportunities for mutual service. The work of building the BPC and of other like-minded ministries in need is work for all of us. PMU can facilitate that work and serve the denomination as its diaconal arm through our reinvigorated Team Timothy ministries.
Third, we will emphasize whole church participation, not just young people. The name, “Team Timothy,” suggests young people only, and that is the usual view. But Timothy was an adult, not a child, when he began his pastoral ministry under Paul’s mentorship. He was just young in the Lord and in ministry experience. Adults must participate in these ministries. The schedule and duties require it, and the adults benefit as much as the young people, perhaps more. But I think many capable people who would otherwise be interested in participating might think they wouldn’t be welcome, but they are!
Fourth, fundraising will still be necessary, but less frequent events combined with the elevated urgency of the need should mitigate somewhat the economic challenge. It could simply be that all we need to do is raise funds to send to a ministry rather than sending a team. (A typical Team Timothy overseas ministry costs between $10,000.00 and $25,000.00, depending upon the field and how big the team is.) If a team is deemed necessary by the host ministry and PMU, so be it. If not, save the airfare and get the money to those who need it.
Finally, then, I am pleased to announce that the next foreign Team Timothy ministry will be to Cambodia sometime in 2017. In the meantime, if your congregation has a need that requires more hands and resources than you can muster, let us know. We will do our best to assist the whole Church in ministering to you at home so that the foreign fields can be well supported by healthy, growing churches here in North America.