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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Neal Pirolo :: Serving as Senders

Neal Pirolo :: Chapter Four: Financial Support

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“It has been a great joy to me that after all this time you have shown such interest In my welfare. I don’t mean that you had forgotten me, but up till now you have had no opportunity of expressing your concern. Nor do I mean that I have been in actual need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous.”Philippians 4:10-12

In totally miraculous ways God opened four major doors to bring us to Cameroon, West Africa, as Short-Term Assistants (STAs) with Wycliffe.

Being STAs wasn’t new to us. We had spent two eventful years in Mexico and later thought of serving again-sometime. But I had no idea returning to the field was the reason for an appointment at 8 a.m. one September morning with Dan Harrison, Wycliffe’s Superintendent of Children’s Education.

But the longer we talked, the more I wondered if God wanted us on the field again-now! By 9:30 we decided I wasn’t the one to go to Nepal; by 10:30 I had some reservations about Papua New Guinea: by 11:00 a.m. we were praying for God’s direction for me to be a principal-teacher in Cameroon.

We’re going to Africa!’ I announced as I walked through the front door of our home that day. While my wife Jill and I prayerfully considered the decision, we knew God would have to open several doors which otherwise could keep us from going.

The first one was regarding our oldest son James, who was only a semester away from graduation. Would it even be fair to him to change schools again? Though we definitely wanted him to go with us, it would have to be his decision. As days merged into weeks, his attitude changed from ’Do your own thing, but don’t expect me to go,’ to ’Let’s get going!’

Our home represented another obstacle. How could we ever find a family who would be totally responsible for the house for two years? But in God’s time schedule He brought close friends to Southern California for a furlough from their ministry with Wycliffe in Mexico. They moved in-we moved out; leaving pictures on the walls and linens in the closet!

A third problem was my mother-in-law’s health. She was battling cancer and really depending on Jill for moral support. God took care of her needs through a miraculous healing!

The fourth door to be opened had dollar signs on it! We learned that the cost of living in Cameroon was as high as in Southern California. We sent a letter to our friends-those who we thought would be interested in what we felt sure God wanted us to do. Money began coming in. A bonus on the job. A buyer for the car and travel trailer. Our church board had just decided to double its support for Wycliffe families. Friends pledged toward our monthly needs.

We received official approval from the Wycliffe Board. Passports and immunizations were now in order. We were assured our visas would arrive between November 12 and 15. We set our departure date: 10 p.m. November 18 from the Los Angeles airport.

All the normal hectic things were happening: We were trying to buy lightweight clothing in a winter market: packing, weighing, repacking; finding a misplaced birth certificate; sending out another letter; having the last gala round of visits with friends.

Then November 18 came. At 8 a.m. I was making the final tally of our financial situation-a task I had intentionally delayed. I just couldn’t make it all add up. We were $50 a month short.

‘I just cannot sign our Statement of Financial Preparedness,’ I regretfully told Jill. We all laughed at the ridiculousness of our situation. Luggage filled the living room. The kids were checked out of school. Our car was sold. Our friends were already living with us and wanted us to get out of their house! All goodbyes had been said. We were holding $3000 of non-redeemable airline tickets in our hands. We’d radioed Africa that we were on our way. And here we were, $50 a month short of our support goal!

‘The Lord must be planning to send in some money today,’ I said as I put the statement aside, unsigned.

At 9 a.m. Jill’s mother called, asking if we needed any money. She then related an incredible story about Myrna, a lady in my father-in-laws church. She had been on our financial support team during our time with Wycliffe in Mexico. And she had heard us present the financial needs for this new venture in Cameroon. Unknown to us, she had been struggling for several weeks for a way in which God could use her again on our financial support team.

But it was now the night before we were to leave. Myrna spent a sleepless vigil asking the Lord for some way that she could still help us. Their business was in financial difficulties and their house had just been robbed. At 4 a.m. she dozed off and at 7 a.m. was up preparing to go to a church missions meeting. At 8 a.m. (while I was doing my figuring) she put on a coat she hadn’t worn since the previous winter. She put her hand in the pocket and, to her amazement, drew out $1,200 in cash! The thief who had so thoroughly gone through her husband’s clothing in that closet three nights before had completely missed her coat!

‘This is for the Coopers!’ she shouted. Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness!

I said, ’Praise the Lord!’ The $1,200 she found in the pocket and wanted us to have was exactly the $50 support for 24 months that we lacked. I ran for the Statement of Financial Preparedness and signed, ’Yes, we are ready to go!’

Financial support is the most controversial, thus the most talked-about of the six areas of support. In fact, when you mention missionary support, most people think of nothing else but money.

We walk through the marketplaces of the Christian world, confronted by a spectrum of contradictions. On the one hand, we are made to feel guilty by the millions who are starving to death because we do not give $15 to such-and-such an organization. On the other extreme, we are told “Prosperity is your divine right!” Where do we turn for balance in financial responsibility?

To further complicate the issue is the problem that a god of this age in America is materialism. The United States, representing only 5% of the world’s population, consumes 40% of the earth’s manufactured goods and 70% of all petroleum products. In addition, the media creates, then preys on society’s poor self-image by saying, “You aren’t good enough… until you use our product!” So we endlessly toil to purchase this and that, only to find out in the next commercial that a “new and improved” version is now available. As the bumper sticker says, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!” How do we rise above the trivia of this world to see financial responsibility from God’s perspective?

His Word, of course, communicates His perspective. On the stub of every pay check received by Christians could be the words of Deuteronomy 8:17-18: “Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Recently a primetime news program noted, “The average salary of an American Christian is greater than that of a non-Christian.” The newscaster’s commentary was, “So that’s what those Christians are always praying about!”

Eight out of every ten dollars held by Christians in the world are in the hands of American Christians! As we hold this wealth, then, we must ask the next question: “Why has He so blessed His people in America?” Again, the Word gives a clear answer: “God be merciful to us and bless us and cause Your face to shine upon us so that Your way may be known on earth and Your salvation among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2). God’s principle that His people are blessed to be a blessing is established in the covenant He made with Abraham (see Genesis 12).

Some of the more familiar methods of securing finances to bless the world through cross-cultural outreach ministry include bake sales and car washes, newspaper drives and aluminum recycling. And in an increasingly waste-conscious economy, these endeavors do generate some working capital. A neighborhood garage sale with all or a portion of the proceeds going to a missions project or missionary can bring families together for good causes. Arts and crafts items can be made and sold and again the profit given to a missionary. God blesses us with ingenuity, mouth-watering recipes and entrepreneurial skills so that we can financially bless the spread of His Kingdom.

But the time will come when all garages are clean, people will want to keep their remaining newspapers to light the winter fires and everybody has had their fill of fundraising pizzas.

More likely, the time will come when your cross-cultural outreach ministry has grown beyond the funds that can be generated by these methods. And now diligent effort must be made to look beyond these endeavors to some more creative, long-lasting ways of securing finances for cross-cultural outreach ministry. Let’s look at three areas of biblical stewardship: giving, lifestyle and managing wealth.

Giving

We know the Word: God loves a cheerful giver. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Give, and it shall be given unto you. When you give… Yet the brilliance of the Bible’s simple teaching on the principle of giving invariably gets around to “how much” which inevitably leads to tithing which ultimately deals with the nitty-gritty of “Do I tithe on my net or on my gross? And we have run into the same dead end the Jews had when Jesus said to them: “You pay tithe of mint and dill and cummin, but omit the weightier matters of the Law…You strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24).

The discipline of tithing (which Jesus commended the Jews for doing) leads a Christian to a deeper commitment of “generous, cheerful, hilarious” giving (2 Corinthians 9:7) which grows into the willing mind principle of 2 Corinthians 8:12-14: “That there may be an equality!”

Using this principle, as long as we compare ourselves only to those wealthier than we are, we don’t feel too compelled to give. But when we enlarge our vision to encompass the world, the principle of equality has us giving and giving some more since the poverty level in America is in the top 4% of world family income. We are indeed rich in finances.

A hymn of the Church says: “I surrender all, I surrender all. All to Jesus I surrender: I surrender all.” May we, in our responsible stewardship of finances, grapple with God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to that point of full surrender.

Before we go on, let’s back up to the basic concept: If every Christian in your fellowship tithed, that tithe would keep the finance committee busy meeting every week to determine its disbursement!

None of us likes to hear a 20-minute sermon on giving before each offering is taken. But the very concept of “taking” an offering instead of “freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8) might be educating us to be miserly in our giving. Sometimes even the prayer said at offering time does more to support our meager giving than encourage a “generous, cheerful, hilarious” freewill gift: “Father, You know we only have these few pennies to give to You. But You multiply them so the whole world can believe in You!” And we put our wallets away and pull out our loose change—if we have any!

Or we are taught to “pay” our tithes. As with any other bill, therefore, a conscious or unconscious resentment can develop. Rather, the Bible urges that God’s people “bring all the tithes into the storehouse” (Malachi 3:10). “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust don’t corrupt” (Matthew 6:20). That sounds more like securing a sound investment than “paying a bill.” And that grows into, “What a privilege that God would allow me to be a part of His Plan of the Ages. He could get along without my money, for ‘He owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ (Psalm 50:10). But the Lord is giving me an opportunity to invest in His Kingdom!”

Giving is an act of intelligent worship. “Let every man who will do it willingly from his heart bring Me an offering” (Exodus 25:2). “Every man shall give as he is able” (Deuteronomy 16:17). “Every man according to his ability determined to send relief” (Acts 11:29). “But first there must be a willing mind” (2 Corinthians 8:12). “Let every one give as he has purposed in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7). What do we learn from His Word? That generous, cheerful, hilarious giving is not an awkward interruption to worship, but the very essence of it.

How can we be wise about our giving?

Unfortunately, not all individuals and organizations vying for your support dollars are themselves wise stewards. There are three questions you must ask to check them on their accountability:

  1. Is the money you give going for what they say it is? Do they take 60 cents of your dollar to raise additional funds? A dedicated sender once gave $30,000 to an international project. A year later, the ones who had solicited this gift came back to him, apologizing that they had not used the money as they had told him. Would he forgive them? Did he want his money back? An apology doesn’t happen often! More likely the funds are hidden in the language of the bookkeeper’s report!
  2. Is the project or missionary service really hitting a decisive point of battle for souls? God wants us to be a part of ministries that yield “fruit that remains.” You might even have to say “no” to your closest friend’s appeal if you sense his summer of service sounds more like a surf and sun holiday! Worthwhile missionary service is as diverse as the creative genius of God flowing through His obedient servants. And some of the activities seem ‘way out there‘—somewhere! But if they are really hitting a decisive point of battle for the souls of mankind, there will be a line of correlation that can be traced to “fruit that remains.”
  3. If your cross-cultural worker is going out through a US-based organization, what is the US administrative/field use ratio of the mission’s funds? That is, how much is spent in the States to get one dollar to the field? Is it under 20%? Are the US personnel living on a comparable level to their field workers? How do they raise their finances? (By the way, if an organization doesn’t want to answer this type of question, you have a pretty good idea of their accountability already!) God owns all; yet He is the most frugal economist! ACMC (formerly Association of Church Mission Committees) offers a battery of appropriate questions for you to ask a missions agency with which you are considering developing a relationship (see “Resources.”)

Lifestyle

Statistics can bore or shock or motivate. For example: Americans spend as much on chewing gum in a year as they give to missions. Americans pay as much for pet food in 52 days as they spend annually on missions. On one day, February 14, Americans spend $700 million to say, “I love you” with Valentines Day cards. Less than that is spent in the whole month of February (and each of the other months) to tell a lost and dying world that God loves them! Does our lifestyle, as Jesus said, tell us where our heart is?

The huge cruise ship the Queen Mary was designed as a luxury vessel; yet during World War II it was converted to serve as a troop carrier. Today the museum aboard the Queen Mary affords a stunning contrast between the lifestyles appropriate in peace and war. On one side of a partition, the tables prepared for high society hold a dazzling array of dishes, crystal and silver.

On the other side, one metal tray with indentations replaces 15 dishes and saucers. Bunks, eight tiers high, accommodate 15,000 troops in contrast to the 3,000 wealthy patrons in peacetime transport. To so drastically reconstruct the vessel took a national emergency. The survival of a nation depended upon it. Should you replace your china with metal trays? No! But allow the Holy Spirit to challenge every aspect of your lifestyle.

Our Master calls out, “Rescue the perishing!” The Captain of the Lord of Hosts has trumpeted a certain sound for battle. But the cry of the perishing is often lost in the din of self-survival. While pursuing comfort we can easily ignore Christ’s warning in Scripture, “He who would seek to save his life will lose it” (Luke 17:33). We decry the diseases of the underdeveloped nations: tuberculosis, malnutrition, parasites, typhoid and others. Yet America has virtually invented a whole new set of affluence-related diseases: obesity, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, strokes, lung cancer, venereal disease, cirrhosis of the liver and more. In saving ourselves we are well on our way to losing ourselves! (See “Resources.” )

Any good cross-cultural training teaches the missionary to adapt as much as possible to the lifestyle of those he is going to minister among-a simpler lifestyle, a lowered consumption of goods, a make-do and/or seek-a-creative-alternative attitude. This forms a solid principle of bonding-establishing a sense of belonging with the ones he serves.

Those who serve as senders might experience a new sense of belonging and a new vision of their part in rescuing the perishing if they, too, would adopt a lifestyle that approximates that of those they are sending. Senders who take on this challenge often find that somehow their quality of life usually improves.

A diligent financial support team member must allow the radical challenges of these statements to question his lifestyle:

  1. If my lifestyle runs out of money before the month runs out of days, a humbling but good starting point might be for me to ask for help in personal financial management.
  2. If my lifestyle looks into a five-foot-long closet of clothes and doesn’t see “a thing to wear,” possibly a new reading of “Do not be anxious about what clothes you will put on, for the body is more than clothing” (Luke 12:22-23) might give me a new perspective on the situation.
  3. If my lifestyle demands a status symbol for transportation, I should check carefully Christ’s story of “bigger barns” (Luke 12:16-21).
  4. If my lifestyle builds long hallways and huge bedrooms and bathrooms for each family member and a living room, family room, recreation room and parlor, it might be well for me to consider my Christian longings for a home in the city “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
  5. If my lifestyle careens on the roller coasters of thrills and frills, It might be well for me to turn down the speed and volume enough to notice that life is ready to give free excitement and exhilaration through natural beauty (Psalm 19:1-3), fellowship, contemplation and worship.

As we prayerfully consider the Holy Spirit’s dealing in our life, we will yield to His will. For “He who has begun a good work m you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6; also see Philippians 2:12-13).God’s direction regarding finances is not one-size-fits-all. There is no hint that Jesus ever told Mary, Martha and Lazarus to sell any of their wealth. And the record suggests they were quite well-to-do. Yet to the rich young ruler, He said, “Sell all” (Matthew 19:21).

Although many Christian finance books only make us feel guilty or tell us to tighten our belts, an excellent book on this subject is Living More With Less by Doris Janzen Longacre (see “Resources.) It contains literally hundreds of practical lifestyle changes that encompass every aspect of finance. And it assures you of an enhanced way of life.

Christians with a renewed lifestyle can free up thousands-even millions-of creative dollars for cross-cultural ministry. Living more with less is an exciting, viable option.

Managing Wealth

No more than a cursory glance at the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) assures us that the Lord expects us to be wise in managing the wealth He has entrusted to us. In a related parable in Luke 19:11-27, He tells us to “occupy—be about My work in a businesslike manner”until I come.”

We can exercise Christian stewardship on two levels: financial practices on the field and financial resources behind the lines.

Financial Practices on the Battlefield

  • Missionaries could implement plans that include short term, itinerant, Pauline-style assignments instead of strategies that demand costly real estate or other long-term investment. Admittedly, some cross-cultural assignments require a very long commitment-Bible translation, for one. But many mission assignments could be turned over to nationals sooner than they are so that your missionary could move on to new areas of need. A sad but valid criticism is that many jobs still being done by missionaries could be handled more effectively by nationals! Notice Paul’s strong encouragement to Titus to “appoint elders in every city” (see Titus 1:5). His further note, quoting Crete’s own poet, suggests Titus was having a hard time finding qualified men—but he was to get on with it! (Titus 1:12).
  • Another practice of biblical times was to move (for one reason or another) to a new area, become a resident of that country and seek employment (see Acts 18:1-19 for the example of Aquila and Priscilla). In some situations your missionary could do this and release his funds for others.
  • Making a greater use of tentmaker opportunities gets your missionary living and working with the people. Teaching English as a second language is one of the best opportunities; becoming an international student is a close second. But beyond these are thousands of jobs around the world that would allow your missionary to get Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World as a book by Rebecca Pippert challenges. There are some serious considerations, however, that must be given to this type of ministry. Don Hamilton’s book Tentmakers Speak Out is particularly helpful reading in this area (see “Resources.”)
  • Self-support by independently wealthy or retired people is becoming a more viable option to financial support. With our increasing senior citizen population, agencies are specifically recruiting these people.
  • Team-oriented housing instead of single-family dwellings may free needed funds. Perhaps a mission team house right in the community of the targeted people would be wise. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us: we touched Him and He was touched by our feelings (see John 1:14: 1 John 1:1; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was a powerful example of living with the people.
  • The greater use of non-Western workers and methods is a fast-growing trend as God is sovereignly raising up a “new wave” of missionary thrust. It is coming from Third World nations. Missionaries from America can work with this move of God! “Fruit that remains” is our goal. How is this most effectively accomplished? Paul, that great missionary statesman of the first century serves as an excellent model—again! He was an evangelist. Most often we read of his preaching the Gospel. (There were only a few exceptions-the most notable being his several years of teaching in Ephesus.) However, he did have a team of teachers (Timothy and Titus are the best known, but there were many others—see Acts 20:4) who were left behind to find faithful men—nationals—-and teach them the Word in such a way that they would go out to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

If you are in a position to formulate policy or financially support missionaries, be a wise and faithful steward. Study and network with mission strategists about wise financial policies. Don’t establish a ministry that must be forever subsidized by Western money after being turned over to nationals. Don’t teach to nationals discipling methods that require anything not easily accessible in their culture-movie projectors, big buildings or perhaps any buildings, expensive books, vehicles, etc. Do let the simplicity of the Gospel be clothed in the nationals’ own cultural garb.

There are additional ways of saving missionary dollars. They are found in how we manage His wealth en-trusted to us back home.

Financial Resources Behind the Lines

  • Cooperatives. A Christian co-op offers extensive possibilities to manage the wealth God has given us. Share, Inc. of San Diego, California, now receiving national publicity as a model, is a community project with a vision for feeding people economically. It could as easily be adapted for any noble cause. Whether in the area of food or clothing, household items or services, a Christian co-op is an excellent way to free up finances for the advancement of the Kingdom.
  • Thrift stores. In the fast century, Christians had “all things in common” (Acts 4:32). Today we can share our excess goods by letting others buy them through a thrift store. It could be totally supplied by free goods and operated by volunteers. (Probably one paid manager to keep it operating smoothly would be good.) Well-managed, this type of business could give its proceeds to missions. There are, of course, government regulations. And it would require diligent business practices. But the rewards of funding more field workers or study Bibles for national pastors or church-planting teams is well worth the energy.
  • Multi-level sales. These businesses continue to capture the market of distribution of goods. It is said that if growth continues at its present rate, by the year 2000, 50% of all products will be purchased by this means. In choosing a company, it is essential to identify with one that is selling a marketable product and one whose quality and cost is competitive with traditional marketing. Some organizations will allow an entire non-profit group to enter the “down line.”
  • Mutual fund investing. It is not known just what markets the stewards traded in in the parable of the talents. But it is impossible that they just “put it in the bank.” The master would have had to be gone on a very long journey to double the money even at 10% interest.And the unfaithful steward was reprimandedd for not at least doubling his money (see Matthew 25:14-30). You probably know or know those who know how to bring the surpluses of your fellowship together in mutual fund investing (with agreed-upon security and other details that need to be carefully worked out).
  • Estate planning. This source of funds holds good, long-term money available for Kingdom work. Unfortunately, it is a method already being abused by some Christian organizations. Nonetheless, it is an area in which we have been called upon to be faithful stewards. Millions of dollars per year go into state coffers because about 60% of our population dies without a will! This area does require a knowledgeable consultation. But generating mission funds through estate planning can be done in good taste, and for His glory.
  • Grant funding. Another whole source of money for warfare against the enemy lies in the estates of certain philanthropic individuals and societies. Yes, it is a lot of work to write the proposals. Yes, many more will say no than yes, but literally millions of dollars are available for the right group doing the right thing and having written the right proposal.
  • Matching funds. It is an accepted and growing practice of industry and individuals to “match funds” for worthy causes. This has been employed mostly in gifts to educational institutions. However, the tax benefit to the company is the same whether to one non-profit organization or another. It would probably work best to name some specific project in a Third World country. Do you know a retired banker or other financial manager whose dealings with money are keen with years of experience? Nudge him to put those skills to the Master’s use in managing these types of financial resources. Maybe that person is you!
  • Income tax. Some people claim “no deductions,” allowing the government to use their money all year interest free just so they can use the “forced savings” in their refund. How much better would be the disciplined saving of that amount—at least at bank rates! At the end of the year (or quarter), pay the government its due and give the interest earned to your cross-cultural worker’s support fund.
  • Equity. If you have owned real property for some years, the equity could be put out at interest to generate dollars for cross-cultural ministry.

Get financial counsel about any of these suggestions from trustworthy people who understand money well. Also, there are journals you can study. And there is the Holy Spirit to guide your bold actions to free up creative dollars for cross-cultural outreach ministry.

World economic crises are daily in our news: OPEC nations at a conference table in the Middle East affect gasoline prices in the West. High consumption nations import cheap products from economically impoverished countries, while sending back ever-higher-priced manufactured goods. International companies buy land to produce export crops, forcing local people to pay higher prices on imported food. Producers dump a million tons of grain in the ocean to maintain marketable prices.

On a scale far greater than we can comprehend, many Christians ignorantly or glibly contribute to the economic injustice of the world, shrugging off any responsibility with a simple “What can one person do?” God’s response is in the singular: “But whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and hardens his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17). Or, for even stronger words from our Lord, read Proverbs 24:11-12!

In all of the areas we have considered, the influence of one person is small. But it is one by one that we will stand before Him and give an accounting of our actions: “Wood, hay, stubble” or “gold, silver and precious stones!” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).

We are to become “faithful…in the unrighteous riches” so that the Lord will “commit to our trust the true riches” (Luke 16:1-12).

A Case Study in Financial Support

The team of senders we have been following are able to rejoice in this area of support:

Because Lou and Sandy were our church’s missionaries, we felt that there was a minimum amount of monthly support that needed to be raised by us before we would go outside our fellowship for financial support. Early on, Lou had challenged all potential Core Group members to financially support this mission as concrete evidence of ownership.

Financial support as well as prayer, moral and communication support was raised in this way: First our fellowship was made aware of Lou and Sandy’s vision. One Sunday, Lou presented a slide show of a trip he and Sandy had taken to the Philippines several months before to see firsthand several ministry opportunities offered to them.

For the next three Sundays after his presentation, the fellowship inserted into the church bulletin a commitment form with several boxes to check, Including:

  1. A commitment to support them financially with a space for how much and whether it was a one-time gift or monthly;
  2. A commitment to support them in prayer;
  3. A commitment to support them with letters.

We had a poster made with the “Good Ship L, S & M” at one side. It was moveable and acted as the financial “thermometer.” The “ship” moved weekly toward its destination as commitment forms came in for Lou, Sandy and Marlies.

Once the minimum amount of support was raised (an amount determined by the agency they would be working under), Lou and Sandy then went to family and friends outside our fellowship for financial support.

After all support was committed, support packages were assembled and sent to each contributor. The packet contained:

  1. A photo magnet of their family to put on the refrigerator.
  2. A “Coupon Book” with a two-year supply (this was the length of their commitment) of coupons that included the month and a space for the amount of support-much like a loan coupon book from a bank!
  3. Twenty-four envelopes with our church’s mailing address already affixed for easy mailing.

So far most everyone has been great about keeping up with their monthly support. Each month our church sends a check to the organization’s home office. From there the money is telexed to Lou and Sandy. We’ve been very blessed! Our fellowship has been so willing to support financially that we haven’t had to come up with any unusual or emergency means to secure finances for them.

Praise the Lord!

What a blessing it is when people give of their substance so that His Good News can go forth. But there is more to the full measure of support needed by your cross-cultural worker. The nickname given to James (the brother of our Lord) was “camel-knees” from all the time he spent in prayer. Consider the concert of prayer support you can offer to God on behalf of your worker.

(In addition to the individual study below, see the Group Leader’s Guide for session four.)

For Your Personal Involvement

  • Paul had quite a bit to say about his financial support (or lack thereof)! Read each of the following passages and try to determine Paul’s philosophy regarding financial support: 1 Corinthians 9; 2 Corinthians 12:13-19; Philippians 4:10-19; Philemon 18-22.
  • Do an Old and New Testament word study on tithing. Discover that it is a principle of God’s Kingdom that works! Include Abraham’s refusal to receive money from the king of Sodom, yet he himself gave a tithe to Melchizedek, King of Salem (Genesis 14; Hebrews 7:1-2).
  • Without changing your spending patterns, for one month keep a detailed record of every expenditure you make. Then prayerfully begin listing areas in your life-style where there might possibly be unnecessary expenditures. Use these five statements (discussed earlier) to challenge you in this activity:
    1. If my lifestyle runs out of money before the month runs out of days, a humbling but good starting point might be for me to ask for help in personal financial management.
    2. If my lifestyle looks into a five-foot-long closet of clothes and doesn’t see “a thing to wear,” possibly a new reading of “Do not be anxious about what clothes you will put on, for the body is more than clothing” (Luke 12:22-23) might give me a new perspective on the situation.
    3. If my lifestyle demands a status symbol for transportation, I should check carefully Christ’s story of “bigger barns” (Luke 12:16-21).
    4. If my lifestyle builds long hallways and huge bedrooms and bathrooms for each family member and a living room, family room, recreation room and parlor, it might be well for me to consider my Christian longings for a home in the city “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
    5. If my lifestyle careens on the roller coasters of thrills and frills, It might be well for me to turn down the speed and volume enough to notice that life is ready to give free excitement and exhilaration through natural beauty (Psalm 19:1-3), fellowship, contemplation and worship.
  • Name several commercial jingle phrases that if followed could easily distract you from giving financial support to your missionary. What are you going to do to combat the impact of materialism in your life?

Action Steps

By the time you have read Chapter Four, completed the For Your Personal Involvement section and participated in a group discussion, you should…

  • Decide to purchase Doris Longacre’s book Living More With Less. Read and apply it!
  • Plan to attend a Christian financial management seminar in your area.
  • Prepare a will or living trust.
  • Know if you are to be a part of a missionary’s Financial Support Team. If yes, let him know of your commitment. Find out where and how to send your check. Let him know the amount the Lord has put on your heart.
  • Multiply yourself. Look for others who have their finances in order and wish to see their funds used for Kingdom work.
Chapter Three: Logistics Support ← Prior Section
Chapter Five: Prayer Support Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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