I don't know where this might hit some of you. I guess it's like any of my rants in that I just like to ask the questions. Sometimes I have my own answers but this is not particularly for me. It's for those who have been giving faithfully to those who are called "missionaries." I personally I am thankful for those who believe in a great God that can take an imperfect hood kid and turn him loose on the world. Anyway I have always had to battle with living life basically on the donations of people. I did not grow up that way. I appreciate things that come my way. I believe in working hard for the things I get. I did not have a silver spoon in my mouth or could I afford to buy one. So trying to hang on the past four years of my life where I have lived off less than half of what I made in a year in the states is hard, to say the least. But my main point or question is, what is expected of me being a supported worker of God? Now I think people need to be held accountable for sure. By whose standards? Should every penny be scrutinized? Is there room for people to spend on cup of Starbucks coffee, or go out to watch a movie? Do supporters have the right to dig in to my life? Should I pressure my self to perform?
I don't know I have never supported a "missionary" before. I have personally felt and some I have witnessed, that churches or in some cases, individuals, or even missionaries have put pressure on missionaries because they support them financially. Again this goes without saying that there may have been reasons for some of these pressures missionary boards, churches, or individuals have put on people, who serve God out side of their country. But they are pressures. Are they valid? This does not speak of all people.
Counting how many I saved.
This is one of the first revolutionary ideas in my life as a Christian. My worth with God does not depend on how many people I got saved. Because none of us can save someone. I thought I read and believed in only one man who could do that. I can't count how many short mission trips I have been on, or heard groups who come back from one and share how many people they saved. How could you tell? They raised their hand in a tent, they said a magical prayer, they walked up to the preacher at the end of the sermon, they came to church next Sunday, someone laid hands on them, some of them fell when they laid hands on them,etc. I did every method I think several times before I was convinced. Without getting to much into it, we are all in a journey that is going somewhere with God. Everyone will be surprised about who will end up in Heaven or not. We can be accountable to the calling of God in our lives and our interactions with others. And the rest God handles. This one is not fair to expect someone to answer. And if you do, how many did you get saved then?
All the good things you do, smile.
Sadly I was once guilty of these things too. You know the great photo of the missionary holding the AIDS baby. A shot of the servant helping pass out food during a natural disaster. The saint aiding the homeless. God's heart is in it. They are good, and with the right attitude God gets the glory. But these are things you can capture on film to exalt God or exalt yourself. I personally work in an environment where the people are already exploited. So you won't be seeing a lot of photos from me with the people I love here in Thailand. I remember in one of my trips to Swaziland, an AIDS affected country. This country already being over populated with well to do people, had even more people taking exploiting shots of helpless children for there well to do campaign. This one day having been in a particular village for months these foreigners came in, for 15 minutes took their shots, even one with a kid holding a sign that said "Please help", then drove away. My good friend, who was a native, turned to me and sternly said,"this is not a zoo." Exactly. How would you feel if people ran around taking shots of you in your most helpless moment? Or even more invading, if someone took pictures of you in your sin? Like some who have come here go on outreach to a bar and say to the women, "I know your are selling your bodies" or, "I am a missionary". And now let me take a picture with you so that people can see that I talked to a prostitute. Now pictures are, a very good way for supporters to see what, or who you are talking about. They are great for raising funds and awareness. I just don't think it's fair to demand it in every situation. You never know what type of work a person is in and taking their word is enough. I know we want to share stories, but what begins to happen is that you start to feel protective of people you minister to and don't want to share their life to millions of strangers. Besides, there are many things you can not capture with a photo. Like the building of a relationship in Christ.
Are you teaching them the right way to becoming Christian?
I think this one takes a lot of understanding from a western prospective. Again I was once ignorant of other cultures, and how God has created them uniquely to worship him. I once had communion with watermelon and soda once in a rural village. Did they miss out on what communion is? Maybe missed out on what the bread symbolizes to the Jews maybe, but the point is this is what was available, but their heart was to remember Christ. So take that situation and try to imagine the many Christian rituals, traditions, and what not, that we hold dear and try to replicate them in a situation like lets say, a third world, war torn country, where your dead if someone smells a Christian. I was always told that baptism was a public display of following Jesus. A heard a story from a seasoned church planter in South America, who after leading a young man to Christ, had him publicly display his faith. He was the only believer. He then got alienated by the village. Then one day they grabbed him and killed him. Not different from other stories of faith and persecution. This was not a hostile to Christian area. It was a ignorant read of culture. But the church plater learned a lesson. If I had him baptized inside he may have still been alive planting churches today. There are many things that will not go line by line by our western church rule book. You begin to realize how much we have added and don't necessarily need, in a reproducible church. This may be way over some of your heads. Maybe you think I am blaspheming. I was once asked If I planted a church who was going to pastor it? Because I wouldn't be qualified from a American seminary, or neither would any of the villagers, so I guess God is not allowed to have a church there. People will always have things to say, but God does not come in a box and neither does his people. Church is mentioned three times in the gospel. An assembly or gathering in the Greek. Let's start there before we put the walls up, the stage, monitors, guitars, pulpit, collection plate, etc.
There are more I have seen made God's humble workers turn into stressed business people. What should I show you? What do you want to know? Can I take day off? I wonder what Jesus did? I start and begin everyday with God. Pray for me, support me anyway you can. I don't want to pressure you in the same way.