Posts Tagged: Missions
On a recent trip to Brazil, I was confronted by a statement
from a Brazilian pastor who said to me, “Americans do not need to send
missionaries to Brazil to preach the gospel.” Now, my first inclination was to
argue with him and give 100 reasons why he was wrong. Then, I thought, why not
ask him why he believes such a ridiculous thing? So I did and by the end of the
conversation, I was totally sold. I share here his perspective and ask that you
(the reader) give it a chance.
What did he mean? Notice he said that America should not be
sending missionaries to Brazil to preach
the gospel. He was specific. Here is his reasoning:
- Overall, Brazil
has been reached with the gospel and the church in Brazil is growing.
There is no shortage of people in Brazil to preach the gospel and to
finish the Great Commission in Brazil.
- Often, when
different groups come from America, they preach whatever they think is the gospel. As a result, when false doctrine is proclaimed,
it spreads like wild fire leaving the people more confused and the church
struggling to deal with the aftermath.
- There is a need
for missionaries in Brazil, he argued, but the focus needs to be correct.
Rather than sending missionaries to Brazil to meet a need that we
Americans believe they have, we can ask what is the best way to come
alongside of the church in Brazil to advance the gospel in that land.
He then suggested the following as a possible approach to
the work of missions in Brazil:
- The need of the
church in Brazil, as he sees it, is the strengthening of the existing
church to reach Brazilians. What does he mean? He believes that America is
gifted and one of those gifts is is a church with godly teachers and
preachers. He sees the greatest need in the Brazilian church to be helping
the existing church to be theologically grounded so as to be able to fight
off every wind of doctrine that comes their way. America can greatly help the church by sending good teachers to
train the existing pastors and equip them to finish the Great Commission
theological education of pastors in Brazil is critical. Some pastors,
especially those in remote areas, often find themselves unprepared to deal
with new teachings that come their way (most of which are from the US). If
the American church focuses on strengthening these pastors theologically,
their investment will go far in helping the Brazilian church.
- A good
partnership with the Brazilian church is one in which the church in America
asks the brothers in Brazil how they can help. This gives the Brazilian church the opportunity to identify
helpful areas of ministry where they need help the most.
After listening to my pastor friend, I agreed with his
perspective about how the American church can be most helpful in Brazil. We do
need to learn to ask how we can be helpful to the church around the world
rather than decide what people need and then tell them that we will offer it.
The implications of this perspective are far reaching, and very helpful. This is something to think about!
From Amy Walters at SEND.
1. The Banker. Nothing but support updates and requests for money. Oh, and maybe a story about visiting a church and asking for money. “It’s not too late to join our team.”
2. The Paper Cut. Focused mainly on the long, paperwork-filled process of getting legal documents, like visas or residency permits. As boring and painful to read as the actual process of gathering the documents and waiting in line. “The officials did not accept our documents (which is very normal for the first attempt, although it was over very small mistakes). However, to get a second appointment would mean waiting the next day in a long line (this whole process has been full of long lines all over the city for different steps) to see if the quota is still open. So, the next day Leon* waited in line for 5 hours, only to find out that no, the quota is closed. This means that we cannot apply for the temporary residency until after the New Year.”
3. The Cluster Bomb. No communication for months and then a sudden rush of updates. Often this happens when the missionary needs something, like more support or home service is coming. “At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we will give another report about how wonderful our time was on our recent trip!”
4. The Itinerary. Basically, a long list of activities, locations and events in paragraph form. The audience feels tired after reading it and bouncing from one place to the next. “We were able to combine visits to see Kim’s* father in Pennsylvania, children and grandchildren in Lynchburg, Virginia and Buffalo, New York to meeting friends and attending a new career conference in Ocean City, New Jersey.”
5. The Treasure Hunt. Mostly filled with cultural tidbits and mundane details. But buried somewhere deep inside, like in a sidebar or at the very end of a long letter, is a great ministry story. [After nine paragraphs about other things] “Praise God for a girl in my class who has now received assurance of salvation.”
6. The Novel. Anything longer than three pages. This usually happens because the missionary hasn’t written in months. “And one more thing…”
7. The Christmas Letter. Almost entirely made up of family updates, with little or nothing said about ministry. Added bonus: long description and pictures of a recent family vacation to an exotic location. “Another family invited us to join them at a nearby resort.”
8. The Cliff Hanger. A desperate call for prayer or help that is not followed up and resolved in the next letter.“Ended up in hospital, trying to find what’s going on. Our life here is but a moment, so easy to take it for granted.”
9. Generic. As boring as the title, either from lack of interesting details or mainly focusing on day to day stuff. So general that it could be cut and pasted into anyone’s newsletter and still apply. “While at home, I did a lot of cleaning, sorting, and washing windows.”
10. The Shock & Awe. Too much going on, from too many different styles of fonts, to too many colors and clip art and photos and graphs and sections. The eyes don’t know where to look first. “Above: My fourth great-nephew and I pose for a comical photo on Thanksgiving Day.”
11. The Snooze & Blah. No pictures. No colors. No graphics. Just words.
12. The Judge. A negative assessment of the host culture, either subtle or blatant. “Is it possible to be both different and wrong?”
13. The Gory Details. Goes into great detail about something incredibly gross or personal, like a recent surgery or explosive illness. Also could include pictures. “We could admire the iron in our toilet bowl.”
14. The Bait & Switch. Teases you with the promise of a great story but instead gets sidetracked with related but unimportant details. “So we landed in [the city], got in a van and rode out to join the teen camp that was starting the next day. 10 days later we took part in the English camp. The time at the camp definitely got us back into life here quickly.”
She offers to helpful tips here.
roughly three different fundraising philosophies Christians follow when they
raise support. They are:
information, no solicitation approach
information, no solicitation approach
information, full solicitation approach
made the first approach famous. He claimed that he never asked anyone for any
money, though he did spend four decades telling stories of God's provision to
crowds around the world. One may question Muller's style here. If you had a
world-wide audience, where at the end of every message you ended with telling
them you never asked anyone for money, what do you think would happen? Muller
had so much money he had to give it away - much of which was given to Hudson
and CT Studd made the second approach well known, and it dominated the majority
how missionaries viewed the solicitation of funds in the modern missions
movement. It was later called the "faith principle." Missionaries would
go out, share prayer requests, but never say how much they actually needed.
They just prayed and asked God to meet their needs. Lillias Trotter, founder of
Algers Missions Board also took this approach. Read this letter for example to see how this played
The third way
is seen most clearly in DL Moody, who would write and personally ask people to
invest money into the work of Christ's Church. Today most missionaries and
those who operate on support take this approach, though I believe many wish
approach two worked better!
I would say
that most missionaries today fall between approaches two and three. Many do not
enjoy asking people for money directly, so they send out support letters with
reply cards, but will not ask someone face to face to support them financially.
Here is the
crux of the issue - why is it ok for pastors to preach on giving and churches
to challenge their people to be generous, but not ok for a missionary to ask
directly for people to be generous? Muller's approach was passive agressive. I
am asking but not asking. Hudson Taylor and CT Studd were the same - here are
our needs, pray about them, but we are not going to ask you to meet them. We
are asking God.
never says that asking people to pray is good, but asking to give is not. It
feels manipulative asking people to just pray when everyone knows full well I
need financial support. Joining your support team (for whatever you are doing)
is a chance for someone to invest in something with eternal consequence. Do you
believe in the mission enough to have someone else invest. What better return
on investment would you need in order to ask people to invest?
Jul. 20, 2015By: Evan Burns
Writing from Burma in a letter to his grown-up sons who were studying in Worcester, Massachusetts, the first sent American missionary, Adonriam Judson, called them to a relentless obedience to God’s Word.
Is it possible that I have letters from you at last? I had waited so long that I began to think it would never be. And I am so glad to hear of your welfare, and especially that you have both been under religious impressions, and that Elnathan begins to entertain a hope in Christ! O, this is the most blessed news. Go on, my dear boys, and not rest until you have made your calling and election sure. I believe that you both and Abby Ann will become true Christians, and meet me in heaven; for I never pray without praying for your conversion, and I think I pray in faith. Go to school, attend to your studies, be good scholars, try to get a good education; but, O, heaven is all. Life, life, eternal life! Without this, without an interest in the Lord of life, you are lost, lost forever. Dear Adoniram, give your heart at once to the Saviour. Don’t go to sleep without doing it. Try, try for your life. Don’t mind what anybody may say to the contrary, nor how much foolish boys may laugh at you. Love the dear Saviour, who has loved you unto death. Dear sons, so soon as you have a good hope in Christ that your sins are pardoned, and that Christ loves you, urge your pastor and the church to baptize and receive you into communion. They will hold back, thinking you are too young, and must give more evidence. But don’t be discouraged. Push on. Determine to do it. Determine to stand by Christ, come what will. That is the way to get to heaven. . . . Will Elnathan tell me what little book it was that was so much blessed to him? I have forgotten what I sent him. I have sent you copies of your mother’s Memoir. You will be delighted to read it, so beautifully and so truthfully is it written. Ever love to cherish the memory of your own dear mother-—how much she loved you to the last gasp—-and prepare to follow her to heaven. Your fond father, A. JUDSON.
Eward Judson, The Life of Adoniram Judson, 523. Also quoted in Francis Wayland, A Memoir of Adoniram Judson, vol. 2:307-308.
When students leave their various countries to pursue studies in
America, they arrive with certain beliefs. If they are Christians, more likely
than not, they had experienced life with missionaries in their country, and
come to America thinking (falsely so) that the church in America will be filled
with people with the same mindset as the missionaries they had met. Those
missionaries they had met are, for the most part, interested in the lives of
the nationals, curious about their culture, wanting to understand why they do
what they do, and welcome them into their homes. When they arrive in America,
they quickly learn that this is not generally true of Americans, and there
begins a confusing journey for them as they seek to fit into the body of Christ
here. Several years ago my wife and I had some international students over to
our home for a meal and they told us that was their first visit in an American
home in their two years of stay in the US. I was shocked but that is the fact.
I have heard the same from many more international students. My aim here is to
suggest a helpful role for the international students in the preparation of our
missionaries as we send them to serve in those various countries.
God has brought many nations to the US and into the church in this
land. What an opportunity that brings to the American church as we seek to
impact the church globally. Yet, many international students are shocked when
they come across people preparing to go and serve as missionaries in their
countries, but they never take a minute to get to know them or even ask what
life is like back home. A common comment among international students is
that if future missionaries are not able to relate to them here in their own
homeland, how in the world do they expect to fit in and relate to people in
their mission context? The presence of international students in our
congregations is a gift from God, and can be used to better equip our global
In last week’s post, I made the proposal that we should be purposeful
in our training of missionaries for cross-cultural ministries. One of the ways
to do this is to be culture-specific in our missionary training. If we engage
the many international students present here, that culture-specific training
will be obtainable. It won’t take much to have international students come to
our training centers or to our churches and share with our missionaries as a
way of equipping them for more effective service.
How can this be done in practice? Several possibilities:
Through the local church, have international students play a key role
in the training of your missionaries. A local church, through the missionary
training program, can require their missionaries to make contact with
international students from the country to which they are planning to go. They
can spend time with them over a period of 8-12 months, learning about their
future host culture. These students normally have contacts back home and can
chase down information that will be helpful for the missionary as he or she
Mission agencies, as part of their cross-cultural training, can bring
in students from other countries (chosen according to the locations of the
missionaries in training) to come and take part in the orientation of their
missionaries. Who would you want orienting you to the culture of your ministry?
An American who has read books about the culture and maybe spent some years
there, or a national from that particular culture? Often, these students have
so much to share, but lack the opportunity to do so.
There are benefits to this approach in missionary orientation. This kind of
ministry shows that we do appreciate those who have come to us from other
countries and believe that there are things they can teach us about their own
helps international students fit into the church better when they cease from
being visitors during their time of studies, and to actually being part of
helping prepare missionaries for their home countries.
They give us an honest picture of how our labors in their homeland are
going. They have grown up seeing missionaries work, and they know the growth of
the church. They know how the church is struggling and what can be done to
help. They have alternate views about how the gospel is progressing in their
own country. Putting together how they see things and what we know of our own
mission work in the area will help us keep from making the same mistakes over
Again, let us not neglect the presence of the nations in our churches
as we prepare missionaries to serve the nations.