Missionaries certainly need financial support. It is sad, but much of the ministry’s success comes down to how we support missionaries financially.
I like what Dr. Tony Evans says: “The gospel is free, but ministry costs.” Boy is he right about that. But with today’s world full of scam artists, how do you know how to use your hard earned monies safely and properly? This dilemma plagues people more and more as we approach the last days. Everywhere we turn, there are financial scares of some sort. This is why I advocate all giving to missionaries be done through your own local church. You should give through the church that you attend because there you have personal, face to face, relationships with people. To support missionaries by sending gifts to T.V. shows or “1-800 hotlines” is dangerous and impersonal. Even if you like a “media” ministry and you feel that it is a really good deal, if you give to it in such a way, all personal touch is removed from your gift. It is best to support missionaries by giving through your own local church.
It is better to give to support missionaries than it is to support ministries. Often time people reason since they have a heart for a certain country, that God wants them to support a missionary going to that country. I know people who had a really nice vacation in a particular country who conclude God gave them a “heart for” that country. This is the wrong way to support a missionary because, you are not really supporting him, you are supporting someone going to your special country. The mission field that Jesus wants to inspire in His disciples is “…all the world,” not just one particular country. Finding a missionary who is dedicated to that task would better follow the missions model of the apostle Paul, who went to people, not countries.
Knowing how to support missionaries should inspire in you a feeling of partnership with the missionary as well as the field. There are instances when a missionary cannot stay on a particular field, but the Lord moves him somewhere else. He still needs financial support if he is to have an effective ministry. I promote: “If he is in the ministry somewhere, then continue your support. If his wife is still active in ministry in some way when he goes on to heaven, still continue support.” If a missionary dies, it is not right to leave his family hanging out to dry financially. This unsightly situation happens because too many Christians support the ministry and not the missionary.
If you listen to how things are said in most churches you can see a disparity between what said and what is practiced. A church might say they support missionary “so and so.” But when missionary “so and so” gets too old to stay on that particular field, and moves to another, they cut support because, “we wanted our missions support to go to the people of a particular country.” I find this very unsettling. At first we took on missionary “so and so” for support, but we ended up supporting the mission field instead. We in fact, supported the ministry instead of the missionary. As long as he stays on that particular field, he can receive financial help.
Financial support for the missionary should be enveloped in love. You should never categorize it in your mind as one of your monthly bills. You are holding a very tenuous financial rope that is the lifeline for the missionary and his family to survive. Your support to a missionary should be a demonstration of your love for him and his family. It should clearly demonstrate to God how much you appreciate Him sending someone willing to go.
Financial support for the missionary should be given consistently. Sporadic support for the missionary means that he does not know how much money he will have to live for a particular month. I know he is supposed to live by faith, and he does! Still, it does not make things easier for him when he doesn’t know if he will get enough money to live each month. It is not like people to work for a week on the basis that we may or may not give you a paycheck. It would be difficult to work in a job where your employer just gave you what was leftover at the end of the month. No one would like it if they were told, “Hey! Live by faith, not by sight.”
My first missions check I received when first arriving in a “closed country” was $200. That was not nearly enough to support a family of 6. Friends back home committed to sending support which combined came up to $1500 per month, but what actually came in was far less than that.
Missionaries know how to live by faith. But if you have committed a certain amount of monthly support to him, then consistency will be greatly appreciated. If you have, by faith, promised a certain amount of monthly support, give it lovingly, and God will bless you for your faithfulness.
Have a rational approach when you support missions financially. Don’t be so overwhelmed by seeing heart moving photos of children in poverty so that you make a commitment far over what you can truly keep. That is not to say ignore faith, but it is to say you should be a good steward of the finances God gives you. For the missionary it is difficult to calculate if he is truly going to be able to go to a foreign field when someone promises $100 per month but in fact only can give $10. If everyone similarly gave, then he could think he was okay financially when he is really not.
Finally, give without attaching any strings to your gift. This would negate giving by love. Love is when you give without any expectation of receiving anything in return. Your missionary does not work for you. Giving to missions is not like buying stock in a company; the more stock you own, the more “say” you have over how to run the company. I don’t know where this model slips into the thought process of some Christians or churches, but it does. Your giving should be to show God how much you want to be involved in supporting the Great Commission. He alone should be the one who “pulls the strings.” The giver should gladly be involved in God’s work. Think of it this way: You give to a missionary and God manages that missionary for you. In other words, get out of the way and give God some room to work in the harvest field as “the Lord of the Harvest.”
Missionaries need financial support. God needs missionaries. Are you willing to help God procure that which He wants? Let your giving to missionaries prove that. How do you support missionaries financially?