Despite what some experts are saying about the U.S. recession being over, the ripple effects of our economic downturn continue to hurt individuals, businesses and ministries like ours. So far in 2010, giving to WorldVenture is lower than last year. Currently, 71% of our missionaries under supported and experiencing an average, annual shortfall of about $________10,142 per year or $845 per month. As you can imagine, this can dramatically affect their lives, the lives of those to whom they minister and the work of God’s Kingdom.
The truth is that when most missionaries experience a deficit in their support they swallow hard, hunker down, pray more, tighten their belts, make cuts in their budget wherever possible and remain in the field. However, when (to put it another way) they fail to receive their full salary, it can negatively affect the missionary’s family life, housing situation and ability to plan ahead. It may disrupt their kids’ schooling and education and necessitate costly travel arrangements, and it almost always means they lack funds for unexpected needs that might arise, like repairing a car or taking a child to the hospital. A lack of funding can also make access to vehicles and transportation in the field far more difficult, or prevent the missionary from being able to cover the costs of important evangelistic and outreach events. It can keep commitments from being kept, delay churches from being established and interfere with language study and acquisition. And, if one member of a field team lacks funds, it can undermine the whole team’s effectiveness.
As you might guess, when a missionary is striving to fulfill the Lord’s call on their life and yet struggles to maintain support, it adds another layer of stress to an already (typically) stressful life that can sometimes lead to doubt, discouragement and even disillusionment with service to God. Worst of all, when a missionary’s work with a specific person or people group is disrupted or has to be abandoned due to a lack of funding, it can negatively impact the very name and reputation of Christ. While some under-supported missionaries do recover a good part of their support at the end of the year, many do not. Imagine how you would feel if you agreed to take a job for a stated salary, only to receive 60% or 70% of what you were promised! And while missions work is not the same as a “regular” job, when you expect a certain income and it doesn’t arrive, it creates hardship nonetheless. The “bottom line” is that when a missionary is under supported it hinders ministry. In the worst cases, it can force them to come home to raise additional support or prevent them from returning to the field on time:
Janet Brown, who serves as WorldVenture’s Short-term Missionary Coordinator in Japan came home in October 2009 and was supposed to return to the field around the first of May this year. However, by the middle of August, she was only at about 90% of support and wasn’t able to leave until the middle of September. Of course, since most short-termers go to the field in the summer, other missionaries in Japan had to take on Janet’s work, adding additional stress and diverting time and attention away from their regular ministry responsibilities.
Timothy and Eliz Carden, who serve as teachers to the children of West African missionaries at Bamako Christian Academy (BCA) in Mali, have been dealing with this kind of pressure for years, even being told by some that because they are educators who work with Christian children they really aren’t missionaries at all! But jobs like theirs are vital to the health and well-being of missionary families and their ability to serve the lost in the more remote and far-flung places around the world that people typically associate with missions, like?West Africa. Timothy usually teaches up to seven classes a day, while Eliz teaches five and also handles administrative responsibilities at the school. They also engage in evangelistic activity both in the school and in the surrounding community. Currently on home assignment, they need to raise over $33,000 before they can return to BCA.
Ultimately, missionaries do what they do because they love God and want to serve Him through missions, and most are willing to do so regardless of the sacrifices involved. Often it means that they have to get by with less, trusting God to supply their needs while they faithfully carry on in their ministries, knowing that the Lord is faithful. And He is. Still, some can’t help but worry at times about how they are going to meet their family’s needs, pay for their children’s education or prepare for things like college, much less for their own retirement. Wouldn’t it be great if all of our missionaries were fully supported and didn’t have any of these extra worries to deal with.
If you are unable to fulfill your commitment to missionary support due to a lost job or death of a breadwinner, we fully understand and trust you will keep your missionary(ies) in prayer. However, if at all possible, please take a moment to send in whatever level of funding your missionary is counting on from you, or whatever you can afford today. And, if the Lord has put you in a position to, please contribute to our Under-Supported Missionary Fund. It exists specifically to help dedicated servants of God like Janet and the Cardens continue doing the work to which He has called them without delay or disruption. Of the $70,000 this fund needs to cover the minimum expected outlays for 2010, to date we have only raised about $14,000. All gifts designated to this project will go to missionary support, helping to produce the stability and continuity they need to be effective and faithful ministers to hurting people who need Christ all over the world. And, as we come to the end of the year, remember that as a 501(c)3 non-profit, all donations to WorldVenture are tax deductible. Thank you!