News from our World Outreach Director Jeffrey Walsh
It’s a familiar conversation in churches. You want to give to missions, but you have questions about how your gift is actually going to be used. For example, if a giver wants the gift to be used for sharing the gospel among street people in Timbuktu, he doesn’t want a good portion of the gift to be used for something else – say, a replacement computer for the finance office. To be sure, stewardship questions are right and necessary. Proper stewardship of resources is vital, whether you are a giver or a receiver. Without it, the giver and receiver don’t have a trusting relationship. But more importantly, our Lord commands good stewardship. So insisting on principles of good stewardship is the right thing to do.
But those who want to give to the work of missions often fall into the “Either/Or Trap.” They mistakenly create a false distinction between ministry on the one hand and administration (or overhead) on the other. “Either my gift will be used for sharing the gospel with street people in Timbuktu (ministry) or it will be used for getting a new computer for the finances (administration).” The “Either/Or Trap” comes from a lack of understanding the true cost of mission work. Every successful missionary and ministry requires a support team that helps make ministry a reality. Just look at the apostle Paul in the Bible. His support team included churches such as Antioch, the church in Philippi, Ephesus and many more. Paul also relied on individuals in his support team to carry out specific functions. Tychicus from Asia, for example, and Phoebe of Cenchrae were part of his communications team. Luke no doubt provided vital medical support. And others facilitated Paul’s travel arrangements.
Think of missionary and ministry support like a tree. The visible aspects of ministry are like the fruit of the tree – baptisms, preaching, evangelism, church planting, etc. The support team is like the roots, trunk and branches. The fruit depends on the nutrients supplied by the rest of the tree. Without the support structure of roots, the trunk and branches, there won’t be any fruit. When you give to Advent Christian World Outreach through Penny Crusade, First Responders or with a general gift, you nourish the entire tree. The support team in the roots, trunk and branches supplies vital oversight, strategic planning, financial accountability, fundraising and more – all of which enable the missionaries to produce the fruit that God intends for them to produce. Consider this the next time you think about giving to missions.