Money given to missionaries

This is something I was thinking about a few months ago. This has to do with missionaries raising money for needs other than immediate ministry needs. The example I use is a retirement account.

As a missionary, if you feel guilty about putting money into an account for retirement then you are showing you are dependent on the donor and not on God. As a donor, if you are angered by missionaries putting money into savings, then you are demonstrating that you are giving to the missionary and not to God.

Our giving and receiving should be vertical; from me to God, or from God to me. Giving should not be horizontal; from giver to receiver. As soon as the donor thinks that he is giving to the missionary as opposed to giving to God then he starts to feel like he should control how the money is used. When a missionary begins to think that the money he has comes from individuals and not from God, then he becomes dependent on people and not on God.

Keep your giving and receiving vertical and not horizontal. By doing this then you don’t allow bad attitudes to creep in.

I understand that, as a donor, I want to know that my money is properly used, but if I feel God wants me to give it, I should give. Then whatever happens to the money is no longer in my control. It is up to God to take care of His money. As a receiver I should be very careful of how I use the money given, but not because I am concerned about what people think of how I use the money. I should be careful to be accountable to God for how I use His money.

The US has a corner on religious education?

A couple of months ago a pastor from India found my phone number on the Internet and started calling me. Immediately he started asking for money that I could send to his ministry. Knowing nothing about him (and still grappling with the whole idea of supporting nationals) I resolutely said that I would not send any money, but would be glad to pray for him. He calls about once a week now (that is much better than every day like when he started). He gives me various prayer requests and I have been honestly praying for the man and his church. It really is a good illustration of Jesus’ story of the lady who went to the judge daily. With Pastor Beny calling me on a regular basis, I really can’t help but think of him and pray for him. It helps me understand that the more information I can get to my prayer partners on a very consistent basis the more likely they will be to pray for me.

He sent me an email last week asking if I would pay for one of his church members to come to the US so he could go to Bible college. Because, according to Beny, “he can be used of the Lord if he gets trained in the US.”

That there is my biggest issue with churches in one country becoming dependent on another country. Beny thinks that the US has some corner on the market of spirituality. And that if his church member can come to the US he can get trained in the right way to do ministry. I also know that Beny may just be playing me as a scam artist and thinks I will eventually give in and send thousands of dollars. Well, that will never happen.

Unfortunately I think it is the US missionary mindset that has propagated that mentality. There are too many missionaries who carry an attitude of superiority over the national churches and people. All pastors should feel responsible to work towards a higher level of maturity in regards to the Bible than where his people may be. But when he portrays to his people that one has to go to a certain Bible college in a certain country to get properly trained in the ministry, I think he is stepping into the realm of Romanism; the idea that one church in one place has sole authority over what you can and can’t understand.

I will still receive calls from Beny. In fact, he called again today. I told him I would do some looking around to see if we can find a Bible college in India his church member can attend. He was thankful for any help and begged me to continue to pray for him. Which I am glad to do.

Two churches

This last weekend we visited a church local to our home. I had met the pastor before and since we did not have a meeting to be in a particular church, we decided to give this church a visit. The church was a class act from the very start.

When we arrived at the church a man met us at the door and noted that we were visitors. He looked on his paper to find out where the Sunday School classes were for our kids. He then grabbed a couple of people walking by and had them walk us to the different classrooms. He also suggested an adult class for my wife and I to attend.

Because the church is in the town where we went to Bible college, there were a few people there whom we knew. I don’t think this had anything to do with the reception we felt as visitors. Everyone was friendly and kind. But not the gushy kind that makes you think someone paid them to be that way. It is just the way they were.

After church we were invited to a short reception in an area that they set up for welcoming visitors. The pastor and a few of the church staff members met us there. We were the only visitors that day, but they were prepared with enough homemade muffins and drinks for probably 10 visitors. We had a good talk with the pastor and no one seemed like they were in a hurry to leave; however, they also did not try to monopolize our time and make us stay.

When we left they gave us each a coffee cup and a friendly smile.

That was not the end though. The next night, Monday, a couple from the church stopped by the house with a loaf of homemade pumpkin bread. They stayed just long enough to thank us for visiting the church and extend an invitation to return.

We felt special.

Contrast that with another church we visited several weeks ago. It was a similar situation in that I had previously met the pastor. We were in his town without a meeting for that Sunday morning service. It was a good opportunity to just stop by.

The reception at the church was cold. The only person who came up to us other than to shake our hand briefly and walk off was the visiting preacher. He came over and chatted and acted interested in us. If the pastor came by before Sunday School or church, I don’t really remember it.

After church we hung around a short time just so that the crowd could thin and I could thank the pastor for teaching a class I was in a couple of months before. He acted like he was in a hurry and did not have time to chit-chat at the back of the church even though there was no one waiting to speak with him.

The church, while full of visitors that day, felt dead. They had a special push to bring visitors to hear the guest speaker. I think there were 20 or more visitors for that service, but none of us were made to feel welcome by the church as a whole. I would hope that those who brought friends did a better job in thanking their friends for being there.

Of course I don’t expect that church to visit in my home since I live about 10 hours away, but I doubt they would have visited if I lived 2 blocks away. It just seemed like they were not interested in adding anyone new to their congregation.

I spoke with a friend who had also visited in that church and he felt the same thing.

Two churches, two very different atmospheres. What are you and your church doing to make visitors feel like they are welcome?

Trip out of Mexico: Day 6 (and following)

We did get home last week if you were wondering. We had another wonderfully boring day. Things just tend to go much more smoothly on US roads. It is amazing the contrast between the roads here and the roads in Mexico. There are some rough spots across Lousiana, but not near like Mexico.

As soon as we got home we started preparing for the coming week. I had a seminary class I was taking and really was not well prepared for it. By Tuesday afternoon I started feeling like my head was back in the game. Fortunately my teacher is one of these wise, practical scholars. He did not expect us to memorize everything he taught. He is more interested in us getting the information on paper so that we can access the material in the future. For my tests this week we had to write a couple of long papers (took me close to 6 hours Thursday night). These papers were “open Bible” essays. As long as we knew how to dig in the Bible and intelligently explain what we had learned, he was satisfied. I don’t know my grade yet, but I feel like I did well and learned much.

Camp starts today

The second of our two camps for the Deaf in Mexico starts today. We are expecting 31 (or so) in attendance. This is our third year to do this camp. The first year was a day camp in which we picked up the kids and took them to a location each day. Last year we used the same camp facility that we are using this year. We had 22 campers last year, so to have 30 or more would be a big jump percentage wise.

We will be there for 3 nights. I am the guest speaker this year. Since I have been gone a year (we left a week after camp last year) then I get to be the special guest. I am still doing basically the same things I did last year except I didn’t have to do as much of the planning. Can’t get much better than that. Well, it could. I could be given special napping privileges while everyone else is outside playing in the sun. But, alas, I get to help run the games too.

So, while I have now committed to being a better blogger, I step away from the Internet for a few days. Look forward to some pictures this weekend.