The Apostle Paul is arguably one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He was brought up in strict obedience to the tenets of the Jewish faith. According to Philippians 3:5 he was “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee”. This Hebrew of the Hebrews realized something vitally important; the gospel was not limited to the House of Israel but this good news was to be manifest to a lost and dying world. After his conversion, Paul’s practice was to ordain elders in every church (Acts 14:23).
This practice of equipping the local pastor begins to surface in Luke’s second treatise but is fully unveiled in Paul’s epistles. One of Paul’s right hand men, Titus was a Greek (Gal 2:3). He was a younger man but was given great responsibility. “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”(Titus 1:5) The Lord would appoint this Gentile with the responsibility of setting in order things that were lacking and give him the colossal task of selecting and ordaining pastors in the local churches there. Working with nationals is biblical and Paul clearly understood this vitally important truth. A global mandate requires a global army. Working with nationals is not only biblical but also practical.
There is no language to acquire or new customs to be learned. They have never known the quality of life that many foreign missionaries are accustomed to and consequently are more adapted to living in difficult conditions and utilizing very limited resources. They will not face the hardships of homesickness nor will family emergencies cause them to have to leave the field. They will not have to worry about the doors being closed to foreigners. They are home and this makes quite a difference.
I realize, by pointing out the strengths of the national pastor, I run the risk of unintended consequences. I am by no means disparaging our fellow American missionaries. The world is indebted to the work of our men and women who have made the great sacrifice of leaving their homeland and serving on the foreign field. I am personally indebted. God used a preacher that spent 18 years of his life as a missionary. I was both saved and called to preach in the church he pastored just outside of Frankfurt, Germany.
We at H.E.L.P. Ministries feel that if God calls missionaries out of our churches it is paramount that we support them and get them on the field as quickly as possible. However, we realize that working strictly within the confines of our own countrymen will not bring completion of the Great Commission. We must incorporate the help of others. Local, God called men were part of the answer to the problem in Paul’s day. They are still a major component in our day. We are in the business of propagating the gospel. It will take the combined efforts of the foreign missionary and the national pastor. As long as the Lord allows, we at H.E.L.P. Ministries seek to continue to Help Evangelize Lost People through the National Pastor
— Ron Cole General Director