16 March 2009

Sustainable Missionaries – Is it possible and is it worth it?

My friend Bud from Texas recently made the jump from supported missionary to self-sustained missionary over a year ago… well not completely sustained… he’s at the halfway point and making progress…

I asked him why he made the jump from raising support to work with a Christian NGO that provides relief in areas of war and famine to being a Christian businessman in a foreign country… his answer wasn’t what I expected…

“When my friends back home ask me about work I always felt guarded about my answers… because I knew they were my biggest supporters… after I while I just wanted to complain about my job without feeling like I was letting my friends down or guilting them into giving more support… when I see my friends every 2-3 years I just want to be normal around them and have a good time”

I did a quick scan in my brain of our list of supporters and it is true… it’s filled with family and close friends… I don’t think that is a bad thing… in fact its encouraging that our family and friends would support us and want to see us succeed overseas…

Although I do find it suspicious that friends I used to convince to volunteer their time to work with jr. high students now pay to keep me and my family 11 time zones away?

I definitely think it is possible to be a self-sustained missionary… I can’t imagine Hudson Taylor checking his bank statement on-line to see if the monthly support came through and then blogging a prayer update… so people have done it in the past…

I would like to give it a try… especially if it could increase our longevity, serve as a model to national pastors and if it continues to be something that Christine and I can enjoy together…

But I also wonder about the cost… will I have to be like Bud and leave behind my volunteer work at Gaba Bible Institute for a paying gig… will I over work myself volunteering at GBI and running a number of different businesses on the side– being 29 I have to pace myself to avoid early burn-out… will the stress of finances turn into an unhealthy obsession with money… and will our surviving male rabbit ever get busy creating a family with his 5 lovely wives?

Although I choose to write about a subject doesn’t mean all the answers… it just proves that I am willing to vomit out my thoughts on a blog for anyone to observe…

To summarize my 4 posts on self-sustaining missionaries:

1. Becoming self-sustaining is something each missionary should consider and many should give it a try
2. For some I think it would enhance their ministry and increase their longevity on the field but for others it could also detract from their calling and rob supporters from the joys of giving
3. Considering your time and finances is something every believer should do… not just the missionaries… because we are all stewards of God’s resources…
4. Finally, Bud is an alias… as our most names that I use on this blog... what name would you give to a guy from Texas?

2 comments:

marcie said...

Hey Jeff
Isn't part of raising support to raise awareness of what is happening in the mission field and give an opportunity for those who don't have the call to live there a chance to be a part of something bigger than their suburban life?

Maybe you should go half-sies.

Jeff said...

Half-sies?

Marcie, where are you when I need a the thesaurus?

Thanks for faithfully supporting the stonesinuganda!