Steps Towards Home: Change the “Poor Missionary Mindset”


Its been a little over a year ago since my parents came to visit in Melbourne Australia for about a month.  Our time together became a huge encouragement, but there was one experience I could have done without…going over finances with my father and creating a new budget.  Doing this with dad wasn’t the problem, it was facing the fact that I (along with many other Missionaries) had serious financial needs that demanded large amounts of support would be raised.

It’s very easy for us to embrace something that I like to call the “poor Missionary mindset”, which involves raising less financial support than necessary so you can return to the Mission Field faster.  This usually wouldn’t came back to haunt us since the American dollar was always stronger than foreign currency, for instance in 2010 you gained thirteen cents on the dollar in Australia, a difference of over $300 a month.

In 2009 I came back to the States for a quick furlough knowing it was necessary to raise new support, but since the US economy had started to slow down by that time, getting support was harder than before.  So after thinking things over I decided it was better to return without raising more support than delay ministry opportunities.

That decision kept me up at night a year later

It was in late 2010 that the poor missionary mindset was dealt a crushing blow as the economies of foreign Countries became stronger.  By early 2011 I was losing seven cents on every American dollar (losing at least two-hundred dollars a month) and the “extra money” that came from a stronger US dollar was long gone.  God was gracious to supply needs, but there were many moments when I regretted my choice to return instead of raising more support.

After a few hours of work with dad on the new budget it became clear $1,100 of new support would need to be raised.  My first thought after learning this was panic as I desperately tried to find parts of the budget that could be cut back.  Thankfully the Lord reminded me in that moment of where the poor missionary mindset had gotten me, and I submitted to the challenge.

Today only $200 of new support needs to be raised before I am at 100% and will receive clearance from Baptist Mid Missions, but the Lord is burdening me to go beyond that point and raise more.

Please understand this doesn’t mean I will be rich by any means; seven cents on the dollar is still lost, and everything in Australia is more expensive than in the States.  The true reason more support is pursued is in todays culture the poor missionary mindset no longer works.  Missions in foreign Countries involves outreach through things such as sports groups, english classes, and home Bible Studies (all of which cost lots of money to run).  So it is possible to return quicker than expected with a lower amount of support, but it will keep us from creating outreaches that truly reach the unsaved.

Being in the States longer than expected because of the Visa challenges is frustrating, particularly as I reach the one-year point in three weeks.  Please pray for me that as the desire to return gets stronger I will rest in the fact God is using this extra time to provide new support…and its because of this longer furlough I won’t have to be a poor Missionary.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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