Why we aren’t going with an Agency

Probably the second most frequent question we are asked (the first being when we are leaving) is why we aren’t going with a missions agency.  Instead of trying to sprinkle bits and pieces of the answer into several posts, I’ve decided to answer that in one, [hopefully] all inclusive post.

First, though, let me say that agencies are great.  They are wonderful at matching a missionary’s gifting with need.  They provide protection in case of emergency, training before and during the trip, debriefing afterward and are a wonderful resource for not only the missionary but the team back home as well.  With all of those positives, it’s easy to wonder why we aren’t going through an agency.

The quickest answer to this lies within our call.  We feel we have been called to a very specific ministry within an already established local church.  We aren’t going to Nicaragua to start from scratch.  The local church is doing pretty well there.  However, the orphanage, a ministry of the local church, needs more resources and help, and this is where our vision lies.

When a missions organization sends a missionary, it’s usually to a project that is in line with their vision and what they are doing.  We already know what our vision is and where we are going.  We’ve been several times.  We are already a part of the work that is going on at Casa Bernabe.  With our loyalty and ministry being to the local church, we don’t feel the need to have our loyalty “divided” so to speak.  We are under the covering of Iglesia Verbo in Nicaragua and we are 100% committed to what they are doing.

That said, we were initially concerned preparation before we left and support while we are in Nicaragua because that is a huge piece of the puzzle and something that organizations do very throughly.  As we prayed about it, we were lead to meet with a couple in our church, who coincidentally are the Missions Pastors at City Bible Church.  They are making sure that we are being well prepared for Nicaragua.

Here’s a sampling of what we are undergoing in our preparation:

  • Meetings every other week in which we discuss books we’ve read for preparation, current events in Nicaragua, historical events, customs, geography, etc.
  • Once a week meetings for Mark for personal discipleship and world view training.
  • An in depth personal interview for each of us
  • Presentation of our plan to the leadership of the church [it was approved after several edits and meetings]
  • Financial, spiritual and background checks.
  • A large document explaining our views on several matters including finances, many spiritual doctrine issues, our childhood, views on family.
  • Medical examinations
  • Contact with Verbo Nicaragua to make sure that we are indeed welcome to come and serve.

All of this to say that we have nothing against agencies or organizations, but we’ve found the preparation through our church to be sufficient.  At this point we don’t feel that adding another organization to the mix is what would be best for the orphanage and their development, but if that is the way we are lead in the future we are open to it.  We have contacts from a couple of organizations that are in Nicaragua and have expressed interest in partnership if we move that way.  We are thankful that our Church is so involved and has such a great history of preparing people well for the work they will be doing on the field.

If you have any questions regarding this or anything else, please don’t hesitate to send us an email.

About mjstearns

We are Mark, Jenni, Tate and Theo Stearns. We currently live in Beaverton, Oregon, but are planning to move to Nicaragua within the next six months. We'll be serving as missionaries to Verbo Church, a non denominational church with several Nicaraguan locations. Specifically we'll be working at Casa Bernabe, an orphanage run by the church, assisting in vocational training and transition programs for the older boys.
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