Friday, June 6, 2014

I Still Believe in Foreign Missions

Our ministry sold. 

Problems with a son. 

Low financial support. 

Dwindling ranks of missionary colleagues.  

Low numbers on the results board. 

Doubts and fears.  

But I still believe in my calling and my faithful God.   I still believe in God's Word.  I still believe in the power of the gospel.  And I still believe in the need for cross-cultural missions.

Today in church circles and publications we hear the resounding cry:  Let's not send any more missionaries from the States to foreign places, let's just support national works.  Mission agencies are pulling out of many old fields, selling off properties and moving on - to allow national churches to move up to the task.

But I still believe in the need for American missionaries in foreign countries.

N.E. Brazil regional BMM conference, 1979

On the other side of the missionary coin,
 I also still believe in the Indigenous Principle of Missions.
I still believe in that old "start churches that will become:"





The problem is that churches and camps and schools and ministries are all made up of people. People with unique circumstances living in unique places.  Plans and Vision Statements and Programs don't always allow for the unique needs of specific places.


So how does today's missionary deal with with trying to start churches and works in places where people have no money, no training, and even perhaps oft times, no food.  What can a missionary do in a third world country to start and maintain a high cost camp or a high tech seminary or school?

Missionaries like us, work to find "nationals" who can fill our shoes and move into positions of leadership.  We start looking on the day we arrive and never stop.  We look for ways to utilize funding and start up self-sustaining profit for ministries.  

It might be as simple as building a parsonage for the local church to have a home to offer a pastor and planting fruit trees in the back yard so the family will have a ready supply of vitamin C.  My husband's father was a sort of Johnny Appleseed of the missionary world making sure the church property he built up in Northern Brazil was full of trees that would give the future pastor lots to eat.

It could be looking for a start of industry that could support a work, like the tilapia project that my husband began for the island camp where we worked in Bahia.  It could be the two years I spent teaching English for a salary that went to help with our own support and as a result with the support of our ministries.

Sometimes it might mean letting go of high cost projects and finding ways to substitute needs with ideas that a local church community can continue in a self-supporting manner.  Sometimes it might mean selling off camps and schools.

But I still believe that Brazil, in particular, needs American missionaries to reach places where funds are needed in the upstart, to make an impact, and to do the will of God... that's why I hope to go back in August of this year to start the next twenty years of my family's work in that great land.

References and Further Reading:
"Indigenous Missions"
"Global Needs"

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