Have we got missions all wrong?

Discussion in 'Missions / Witnessing / eVangelism' started by GospelExplained.com, Jun 4, 2006.

  1. GospelExplained.com

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    Just wondering about missions to third world countries.

    If missionaries/churches have established Bible colleges, after serveral decades of service, in these countries. And many men are graduating, why aren't we more willing to support national church-planting pastors? In many cases for the cost of one western missionary, twenty to thirty+ national missionaries could be fully supported. Maybe ten+ in capital cities.

    Perhaps there may be cases of rice (christians) pastors; just as there are our own T-bone servants. It would seem to me that missionaries going to established fields need seminary teaching experience to assist in training pastors, not simply going into areas where a national pastor is struggling just down the road!
    I make it a habit of asking national pastors whether or not a western (Baptist) missionary of like faith has started services nearby. It is just getting ridiculous.

    Our church (partly) supports a remote rural Philipino missionary who requests only $115 per month as total support for his family. (In major cities cost of living is more.) We consider him to be 'one of our boys' even though he is not our race/nationality. We have not judged him by sight either, by way of dupe-you-tation, receiving his answers to our questionaire as sufficient (with pastoral recommendations). (Yes, great care is needed in prayerful selection of candidates!)

    The military costs in war of establishing an initial beachhead are enormous. Why are we still establishing new spiritual beachheads when we are already on the ground? Seems unnecessarily expensive/risky to me.

    But it is never poor stewardship to support true missionaries! Don't get me started on the financial support of Christian entertainment TV "ministry" in western countries, when the poor countries of the world have so little Gospel opportunities.

    How much of our missionary support is going to someone NOT of our own race/country of origin? Third world national church planting pastors are worthy to be considered for support. A miserly $100 to us is like $1000+ to them.
     
  2. John of Japan

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    Interesting post, GospelExplained. It has been discussed on the BB before, but I'll again put in my two yen worth. I would have to ask some serious questions before supporting a national pastor on the field.

    (1) Will there be resentment from other pastors or believers over the pastor getting foreign money? You know we Americans aren't liked everywhere.
    (2) Is there an accountability setup where the supporters can know that the money is being used for God's glory?
    (3) Is there a plan for the pastor's work to become self-supporting eventually? That should be the goal of all mission work, in my view. We missionaries aim to work ourselves out of a job.

    Some mission organizations that support nationals have these safeguards in place and some don't. :type:
     
  3. Su Wei

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    Hello GospelExplained!

    I'm writing from Singapore.
    I'm a little confused. Are you speaking of national pastors or missionaries or evangelists (church-planting pastors)?

    I'm with John. Self supporting churches is the aim. Even poor communities can provide for their pastors.

    Hello John of Japan! I'd count myself previleged to be one of the few on this board who can read your avarta! :D
     
  4. GospelExplained.com

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    Fair points made. And yes I agree that the national church-planting pastor ought to be eventually supported by his own church.

    Su Wei I am refering to helping national preachers (pastor/church planter etc) in view of starting/establishing/strengthening local Baptist churches.
     
  5. John of Japan

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    Hi, Su Wei! I hope you liked my avatar when you read it! Is there a similar saying in Chinese?

    For you poor, ignorant folk on the BB who are illiterate in Japanese and/or Chinese, the four characters are read "Bunbu Ryodo" in Japanese. This is a Japanese saying which is the equivalent of "Renaissance Man," or in my own thinking, "a man after God's own heart," which is what I long to be. A literal translation would be, "Literary and martial, both paths" (I am a martial artist and sometime writer.)

    And now back to our regularly scheduled thread. GospelExplained, I believe that a pastor and/or missioanary should live on or below the socioeconomic level of the people he is ministering to. So to apply it here, if the support for the national pastor/missionary raises him above their level, it can do damage.

    I think we should be ruled here by 1 Cor. 9:
    "18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
    19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
    20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
    21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
    22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
     
    #5 John of Japan, Jun 6, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 6, 2006
  6. mnw

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    I am in the position of being a "national" pastor and seeking support from overseas. At the end of this year I will be spending two months in the US with a ministry that focuses on supporting national pastors.

    I praise the Lord for the missionaries I know as I was led to the Lord by a missionary; recieved my education up to High School level from a missionary; was mentored by a missionary and part of my college level education was from missionaries. Even now, as a pastor, many of my supporting churches are pastored by missionaries.

    However, I would like to see a greater move to support nationals.

    One USA mission board I approached, not even to join, but to just get some contact details for churches in the USA, pretty much told me I was on my own. I know several missionaries with the board and had even met the Director. The missionaries I know were mostly shocked by the reply I got.

    Their position, and the position of many US Mission Boards is, "As a national you can more easily get a job whereas our missionaries cannot. So, you get a job and start a church at the same time. Be ye warmed and filled..." (Come on, this is 2006! Getting a job overseas can be as easy as getting one at home.)

    There is a time and a place for "Tent-maker" ministries, but I think that is not always the best option. Now if God called me to work 12 hours a day to pay the bills and then 6 hours more to start/lead a church then so be it. But surely anyone can see the problems. I have been in that position and you just cannot give adequate time to sermon preparation, evangelise and raise up others to go into the ministry.

    When any missionary reaches their field they have to spend AT LEAST two years to get established and begin the work. A national can get the funds together and launch straight into the work.

    We still need missionaries, don't get me wrong. But we need more of our own people getting support from overseas so they can focus on ministry.

    I hope to God this never happens, but it could soon be the case that US Missionaries cannot easily gain access to the UK and most of Europe (or missionaries to any country). What then? If a solid, broad network has not been established then we are in trouble. Some missionaries only know other missionaries, so what of them?

    I pray daily for the Lord to send more labourers into the harvest. If they come from Britain, USA or outer Mongolia then so be it. But there must be a greater focus on building up and maintaining existing works, closer ties with national pastors, and a much greater focus on preparing and encouraging and financially enabling young men going into the ministry!
     
  7. Mexdeaf

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    Hmmm. I don't want to sidetrack this worthy thread, so if this is too far out of the parameters of the discussion, let me know.

    Not sure I agree here, but maybe it is because our ministry is so different. Working with the deaf in most countries in most cases is working with the lowest of the low. It would be very difficult for me to live on their socioeconomic level, and impossible to live below. For example, 90% of our deaf folks live with their families. Now I am speaking of folks that are married, in their 40's, have kids- still living with momma or daddy. In our congregation, we have 7 men of working age, plus two retirees. One of the retirees has an excellent pension plan. The other has nothing. Of the seven of working age, 5 have jobs. The three younger men do well to bring in $50 (USD) a week. The man who makes the most in our church is a paint and body man, and he makes around $150 a week. Even with that most excellent (for the deaf) salary, their family of four still lives with his mother.

    I have found that the folks we minister to have no problem with us having more, AS LONG AS WE SHARE IT. We have always been very open and generous with not only our time, but also with our (His!) possessions and finances.

    It's not the '$tuff' you have, it is your attitude towards it and what you do with it that counts
     
  8. Su Wei

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    In mandarin, it's "wen wu liang dao". how did you get the characters on? Maybe i could do one too? :smilewinkgrin:

    Wow. I think this is hard medicine to follow, as Mex pointed out. I'm pondering two things.

    1. i think this is the problem that the OP was highlighting. That local pastors can live like the locals and thereby survive on very little support as compared to a first world sent missionary.

    I've heard of missionaries saying no way the can live without the washing machine, dryer, etc. etc.

    2. I do wonder if what J of J prescribes is really do-able in "tougher" fields. Take Cambodia, for instance. They drink brown coloured water. Their stomachs can take it coz they've been exposed to it all their lives. If we, who have been drinking clean water all our lives, drink Cambodian water, we'll be sick for sure.
     
  9. Mexdeaf

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    We have that brown colored water down here. It is called 'Coca-Cola'.:laugh:
     
  10. GospelExplained.com

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    mnw I support your situation, yet in this thread I am highlighting third world national church-planters in parts of the world where gospel opportunities have been very limited. Where 10, 20 or more national church-planters can be supported for the cost of ONE western missionary.

    If I am considering this field, Am I (one only) worth more than 20 missionaries? Yes if it is an unevangelised area, OR I have exprience at providing seminary quality teaching to be utilised in countries where churches have been established.

    I have only suggested JofJ that a $ amount, or part thereof, support which is fair for that area. Although we must remember that a guitar, or similar resources can easily add up to a large chunk of a MONTHS wages! In some areas trading farm produce (received as offerings) is difficult/impracticle.

    I don't think we really appreciate the hardships/poverty of these national Bible College graduates. You see in the West, those who serve the Lord making 'sacrifices' may never own their own home etc etc. But western servants still do get to eat pretty well, and have a very good lifestyle comparatively speaking.

    These third world national pastors - what do they have to sacrifice? What fat can they trim off from their lifestyle?
     
  11. John of Japan

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    I wish I could help you, Su Wei. Unfortunately, mine is just a graphic, so I don't know how to write Chinese characters on the BB. :tear:
     
  12. John of Japan

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    :laugh: :laugh: :applause:
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I see your point, Mexdeaf. I guess my view is just a guideline that is sometimes impractical. I do remember Hudson Taylor, though, and how he revolutionized missions by living just like the Chinese. I wanted to do the same when I came to Japan, but then I discovered that the Japanese want to live just like us Americans! :smilewinkgrin:
     
  14. John of Japan

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    Well put, GospelExplained. :thumbs:

    My only caveat is that there be accountability. And of course that goes for us American missionaries, too. I have known of mission boards sending out Americans that did not have proper accountability, and terrible things happened.
     
  15. mnw

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    Sorry, GospelExplained, somehow I missed the bold letters in the OP. :) I probably just got caught up with some of the replies...
     
  16. Su Wei

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    haha. :sleep:

    :smilewinkgrin:

    Well ain't it a good thing then that God called you to Japan and not China?
    (But i guess nowadays, the Chinese want to live like the americans too... )
     
  17. Su Wei

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    lemme share a story about a kiddie stroller my husband and i just recently went to purchase at a second hand kiddie equiptment shop.

    We were informed that one of the national philipino pastors that we are working with needed it. His testimony was that he was a street urchin who grew up doing drugs and selling drugs till Jesus saved him. He has been serving in a fishing community as a pastor for many years now.

    The stroller we bought was for his 20 year old daughter.
    She suffers from some kind of disease we don't really know the details but we showed him my 6 yr old boy and asked if his daughter was that size. He said smaller. She is closer in size to my 4 yr old girl.

    The thing is all these years, they have not had a wheelchair of any sort for her as they cannot afford it. They have been carrying her everywhere and she is left at one side when the others have work to do. The pastor and his wife take turns to care for her eating and bathing.

    Yet i know, the joy of Jesus overflows in his family. He doesn't complain. He didn't even want to tell us the situation until we asked.

    We were all so ashamed of ourselves. I think to myself, that we are so blessed, whatever we want, we simply spend the money and get it. It's so simple. Yet folks in poorer countries (pastors or not) just do not have the means even to get things that can make their lives so much better.

    Several of us at church pooled together money to get that pastor the stroller. We hope it can be a blessing to them and a form of encouragment for them to press on despite their hardship.
     
  18. John of Japan

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    :laugh: :laugh:

    That was a very moving story about the Phillipine pastor. Thank you for sharing it, Su Wei.

    You know what? I prayed about Hong Kong for four years, because I truly love China! My parents tried to go to Tibet in the late 1940s under Hudson Taylor's China Inland Mission, but the Communists took over.

    Anyway, God's plan was Japan, so that is where we ended up. I went to language school with Chinese from all over, and got to witness and give tracts and Bibles to them. We finally got to visit Hong Kong in 2002 to do a Christian martial arts seminar, and two young Chinese men trusted Christ when I preached! I was thrilled!!:praise: :praise:
     
  19. Su Wei

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    That's exciting. I half love china (i'm sorry to say). I've been there once! :thumbs:

    But back to the topic... I guess, the point of sharing that story was... was.. are we prepared to wash our laundry by hand?
     
  20. Mexdeaf

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    Yup, even in 'advanced third world' countries like Mexico. We have come a long way in the past 10 years, but my wife still doesn't have a dryer, and we live without A/C since most of our people don't have it. Although the JW's do.
     

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