As mentioned in one of our recent Forum Discussions (When God Changes Your Focus…), one of our administrators, Rick Cogbill, has felt God’s call on his heart to start a mission organization called Mercy Tech Mission (www.mercytechmission.com) .
As a result, Rick is getting ready to embark on some new adventures, and we thought you might to know a little bit about it. So we asked him a few questions…
1. Where are you going?
I am starting off the year with a 5-week trip to Mozambique, a country in Southern Africa that is still rebuilding itself after 26 years of civil war. I spent a month there last year around this same time doing some mechanical repairs for ASAM, a Canadian missionary organization serving in this area.
2. When are you going?
I’m leaving on February 21st and plan to return at the end of March.
3. Why are you going?
On my previous trip I had the privilege of working with 3 local men, teaching them some basics in automotive mechanics. I am a licensed mechanic and former shop owner, and when I was leaving, the men asked if I would ever return, as there was so much more that they needed to learn.
4. What are you most looking forward to?
Well, working with these men again, for sure. They are such gracious people, the Mozambicans, and truly appreciate it when people come so far to visit them. Getting any kind of training in a trade is so difficult in that country, due to the lack of infrastructure, so to be able to share some skills with them that will help alleviate their living conditions is such a blessing.
5. Most concerned about?
To be honest, the plane rides! I’m not scared of flying, but the long, long flights are just not fun to sit through. One flight from Johannesburg to Atlanta is about 17 hours alone, and that’s about 7 hours too long for me.
6. Main prayer points
My health would be one. I had a mild heart attack last June, so although the doctor has given me a clean bill of health, it’s still a concern.
Safety in travel is another, as to get where we’re going will involve commercial flights, flights in small planes, driving on African roads rife with potholes and bandits, going through police and boarder checkpoints, and the like.
I would also appreciate prayer for my wife and family, who will be waiting patiently for my return. Although we should be able to stay in touch via e-mail and MSN (if the satellite link stays up!), it’s difficult to know your spouse is half a world away in a land of few amenities and tenuous health conditions, and that there’s not much you can do from home if something goes wrong.
Finally, funding. This is all by faith, so we are looking for people to get involved as God directs.
7. What led you to start your own mission?
When I came back last year from Mozambique and started sharing what I had been involved in, I suddenly had a lot of people, like carpenters, mechanics, nurses, etc, who told me, “I’d like to go do that; can you take me with you next time?” So through the Lord’s guidance, I have started up Mercy Tech Mission, a non-profit organization that is focused on two main things: 1 – to take skilled people out on mission trips to work on projects, and 2 – to train the people we are working with, so that we leave something behind that will help raise their standard of living, both spiritually and physically.
8. How can short-term trips like these really make a long-term difference?
We focus on projects connected with groups that are already there, on the ground. For example, on this trip - and on a follow-up trip in August - we will be working with SAM Ministries who already have been in Mozambique for over 16 years and have many projects on the go that need to be completed. Future trips could be anywhere and with any group that has a need for what we do.
By doing the stuff we know how to do – building, mechanics, nursing, teaching – we can free up the missionaries and local church leaders to do what they do best, which is church planting, training, and evangelism.
9. So is this an emphasis on the Social Gospel?
I look at it as a way of adding balance back into the Gospel, the real Gospel taught in the Bible and modeled through Jesus himself.
The Bible is very clear that we need to care for the poor and needy, and that these ones are very dear to God’s heart. In fact, reading what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 about the sheep and the goats, along with the book of James, should make us realize that what we do as a Christian is just as important as what we say.
A good book to read on this is called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.
10. So how does this affect you as a worship leader?
Well, it will be taking me away from my home church a lot more! But that means that others will have the opportunity to step into the role of worship leading in my absence, and that’s a good thing. Actually, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at writing some worship songs with the local folks in the African churches – it could be very interesting!