Missionary Associates Beginning a Movement of “Senders”
For when your treasure is there will your heart be also. Matt 6:21
April 6, 1983 Dear Prayer Partners.
In this letter I'd like to share some things that I've learned and ideas that I've had about finances, and then ask for your advice on how to spend my future.
One thing I've learned is that it will take a lot of missionaries to reach 16.750 people groups, perhaps hundreds of thousands of missionaries. How do we get that many missionaries? We have to do 2 things: motivate the people to become missionaries and finance their training and ministry. This letter speaks mostly about the finances.
In the last few years, 3 couples from my church have been accepted by mission boards for overseas service. The first spent 2 full years raising support after they were ready to go. The other two couples have each postponed their departure for over a year because they have been unable to raise support. Also, every few years missionaries spend a full year at home on furlough. Most of that time is spent maintaining and raising support.
So, the second thing I've learned is that a significant portion of the motivated, trained mission force is sidetracked by raising support and keeping vision alive at home. Also, facing this type of experience keeps many potential missionaries from ever trying to get to the mission field, flow would you like to raise support? Would that discourage you from missions?
These two things I learned establish the obvious need for huge amounts of money for missions and the difficulty of getting it in. Is it possible that more money could be available in these economic times? When I moved to USCWM my income was cut in half and at almost the sane time I got married. Can 2 live on half as much as I? It's easy!
The third thing I've learned is that it's easy to live on less if your friends also live on less and if the money you save is going for the most important thing in the world. Both conditions of that statement are necessary. Peer pressure doesn't exist only among teenagers. And without God's cause as my motivation I'd have lacked the power.
I've often thought about what would have happened if I had stayed at my previous job and lived on half the income. Let's suppose I was making $30,000 per year, giving $3000 to the church and in turn the church gave, say, 10% of its budget for missions. That means $300 of my money had been going to missions. If now after a period of transition I got to where I gave $15,000. the church would still only need $2,700 for it's local ministry and $12,300 of my money could go for missions. By cutting my life style down a little I'd be able to give 41 times as much to missions If all Christians did that we could finance 41 times the current missions force. The point is that the potential does exist for huge increases in mission financing.
Here is the crucial point: if I had stayed at my previous job, would it have been so easy to live on less, like it has been here? One of the conditions that has made it so easy here has been the fact that my friends live on less income also. Most Christians in South America, Africa and Asia live very happy lives on far less than $15, 000 per year. Economic contentment is based largely on expectations, and expectations are mostly formed from watching others around you. Back home I honestly don't think I could have cut my spending to $15,000 because there I lacked the community of friends who are doing likewise. (In all of this I'm not talking about using extreme will power to sacrifice and live an ascetic life. In, talking about living a happy and contented life but cutting out spending to joyfully give to God's cause,) Here at USCWM I don't feel sacrifice but gratitude to God and to you who help support rue for the many blessings I have.
The idea of Christians refuting the materialism of our culture and giving large amounts of their income toward reaching Hidden Peoples has great appeal to me. But if I couldn't do it without coming here to live in a community of mission believers doing the same, why do I think that you and others might? I don't! But if for others there were a community of mission believers in their own town, then they could get the same example, fellowship, encouragement, and help that I got; and like it was for me, it could be easy.
Thus, there has been a great deal of thought about forming a loose association of mission believers who feel called not to go but to be workers, promoters, "senders." The primary purpose of the association would be to motivate people to join in this kind of life style, help them to do it, and most important of all to get them in contact with others who can provide encouragement and some "positive peer pressure" to offset the overwhelming message of consumerism that we got from our society and even within our churches. Some of the most significant advantages of this kind of lifestyle come from the community spirit of fellowshipping with others of like concern. It may take some critical mass of several families to establish this community of "senders". encouraging each other in lives of sending missionaries to the frontiers.
It will really help if each family can identify with a specific mission agency as a "Missionary Associate". Several societies are considering this. For the time being, the U.S. Center for World Mission will sign people up, even if they're not In Pasadena! But we'd like people eventually to identify with the agency to which they or their local church feel closest.
A Missionary Associate will be treated in all ways as a full staff member of the mission agency... except that they will be living in this country, not overseas. They will receive the inside news, the urgent prayer requests, and be part of the family. They will even live on the same consumption level as other staff, saving extra income over that level in an account which they would control but determine not to spend on themselves. Sharing lives as part of the missionary family would help in that tough financial decision.
This is just one idea of several that Satoko and I have been praying about. The reason for describing It at such length is to get your feedback. Have you thought about being a "sender?" Would you consider joining an association like this? Could you encourage others who might be interested? Please write us and tell us your thoughts on this or about anything else. We love to get letters and want to know what's happening in your life that is important to you.