Why Missionaries Can’t Be Poor

1093478_aussie_moneyHi, my name is John, and I am cheap…

There I said it

While the term “frugal” is preferred there’s little doubt I’m the kind of person who always buys the cheapest item (which is why I practically live at Wal-Mart). Anyone who doesn’t believe me can ask my brother Michael who takes great joy in telling the story about our going through a McDonalds Drive Thru together about seven years ago and I “conveniently” forgot I didn’t have any cash in my wallet.

Not that being careful with my money is a bad thing; in fact in todays culture there’s more of a need for financial responsibility than ever before. However there are situations in life that demand we break open the piggy bank: things like gifts for loved ones, dealing with our health, necessary debt (mortgage or vehicle), and ministry.

One of the biggest challenges for Missionaries is raising the financial support needed to reach the lost and plant Churches, in recent years that amount has skyrocketed forcing many of us to raise $1,000 or more of new income. Of course asking for financial help from Churches that struggle caring for their own Missionaries (much less new ones) makes the process that much harder. Adding to this pressure is the confusion some Believers have about why more support is needed.

In the past ministry could be done cheap, by which I mean the American dollar was stronger than the foreign currency so you wouldn’t need as much. Unfortunately our economic collapse has reversed this so suddenly Missionaries start LOSING money once it’s exchanged, and the stronger foreign economy leads to things being more expensive there. For instance rent in Melbourne Australia will normally be about $1,300 a month (you can’t have a mortgage without bringing about $25,000 as a down payment) that obviously is hard to pay if you’re losing money each month.

I truly wish things were the same as in 2007 when you gained thirteen cents on the Australian dollar but instead we lose ten now. So the financial side of Missions becomes a huge deal that will make or break your ministry.

There is a sense were we need to rely on God for our financial needs, but this cannot be traded for common sense. In 2009 I listened to a Missionary proudly proclaim he and his family were leaving for the field under-supported (believe they were about 80%) because “God cared for the Apostle Paul and He will care for us.”

This is true but the Apostle Paul didn’t have to pay more than $1,000 for rent

Or care for a motor vehicle

Or pay expensive utility bills in the winter

Am I saying that God cannot meet our needs? Of Course not! But there is a responsibility for us to raise the money needed to reach the lost in a way that glorifies God. So even though the fund raising part of ministry is something I absolutely hate I still do it.

Because it’s okay to buy the Wal-Mart brand of Orange Juice and save a few bucks, but funds given to reach lost of souls of Australians is money well spent.

Published by

John Wilburn

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

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