In This Issue: Your Money or Your Life
- Workers or Donations: Which Is More Important?
- Feedback from Short-Term Ramp-Up
Workers or Donations: Which Is More Important?
Source: Justin Long
The recent Asian tsunamis focused world attention on Asia. Nearly all of the people affected were non-Christians, and the great majority were unevangelized (particularly those in Aceh, Indonesia). Compassion was stirred like never before, and enormous amounts of money have been raised.
While not denying the enormous need represented by the tsunami crisis, I would like to take at least one reality-check to point out what many have probably been waiting for me to point out: more unevangelized people die every month than did in one day in December 2004, and get far less attention.
- On December 26, perhaps as many as 400,000 people died, many of whom had never heard the gospel.
- Every month, on average, one million unevangelized people die just of natural causes.
This is the general state of affairs in World A [the part of the world with people groups that are less than half evangelized]. Some 13 million people die every year, unevangelized – and this is on the most conservative estimate of “unevangelized” possible. (If you broaden your definition of who is unevangelized, then the number of deaths is even higher.)
Josef Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” I have firsthand experience with this: it is difficult to get your arms around the idea of 200,000+ dead in a day, let alone one million dying every month of every year. What can we do in the face of this enormous problem – that the unreached are dying faster than we are reaching them?
The tsunami crisis led to an outpouring of funds. Yet let me suggest that money is not the important factor in solving the problem of world evangelization. Neither do I think prayer is the most important factor. Both of these are surely critical, yet I think the most important thing needed is the sacrificial commitment of individual lives.
What is most needed, in the words of one friend of mine, is “for people to get off their duffs and get out here.” All else follows from the commitment to serve and bless the unreached. In Asia alone there are 2,245 “World A” peoples (groups that are less than half evangelized). Every one of them needs more workers. YOU could be one of those.
Workers going to the field attract funds for their support. Workers going to the field send prayer requests back for intercessors to pray for. Workers going to the field can even encourage other workers going to the field. (All of this happened to us personally; I am here in large part because I saw someone else like me go and realized it was possible for my family to come as well.)
Ralph Winter has commented in Mission Frontiers (May 1993) that mission mobilizers are extremely important. “Anyone who can help 100 missionaries to the field is more important than one missionary on the field.” So here’s what you could do:
- If for some reason you cannot go to the field, find someone who can and who seems to be interested, and be a weekly encouragement to them. Be the initial seed donor for them. Introduce them to other donors. Pray for them and with them. Help them get training.
- If there is no reason you cannot go to the field, start actively seeking out what you can do and see if you can’t bring someone else to the same idea.
Don’t go with the idea that “if everyone did this, then who would be left to give?” The simple fact is, everyone WON’T do this. Only a few will. You could be one of them. Don’t settle for just giving; stretch for going. If you’re interested, write me. I’ll help in any way I can from the other side.
NOTE: The Reality-Check is written on a weekly basis by Justin Long, who serves in Southeast Asia.
Feedback from Short-Term Ramp-Up
By Shane Bennett
In last month’s Practical Mobilization article, “Short-Term Ramp-Up: Thoughts, Tips, and Warnings,” I tossed out some questions about how and why we do short-term mission projects. Thanks to readers who wrote back with comments. One couple wrote, “My husband and I are evaluating whether to continue our somewhat regular trips overseas to work with refugees. The questions you raise are the ones we should be asking ourselves, in addition to generally keeping ourselves open to God’s leading.”
Another reader relayed how his church uses trips to Ecuador as a “stepping strategy” to more unreached areas. Dick Kampa of Tucson, Arizona, USA says, “There will be work, Vacation Bible School, sharing of faith, and also cultural sightseeing. For most of this group this is their first short-term trip. … Our strategy is that this trip will acclimate folks who are interested in missions to sharing the gospel in another culture. From this trip we can plan others to the more exotic places mentioned in your article. We will build the experience base to create more interest in more trips. Call this a stepping strategy. We think it will be a better way to get our church into the regular practice of trips and taking them to the not-so-safe places.”
While I agree with the idea of acclimating short-termers to cross-cultural work and not expecting them to succeed when starting off in a radically different situation, I wonder if we’re missing some great domestic, cross-cultural situations that would accomplish the stepping strategy while exposing short-termers to unreached peoples. I’m in no position to comment on specific churches and their approaches, but I think more of us could be working among unreached peoples in US cities. This would lack some of the excitement of a foreign assignment, but I’ve got to think that for some of us it would be a smart move. If someone is facilitating short-term trips like this, I’d love to hear from you.
Finally, one reader responded to my caution about “Christian tourism” by telling about a company offering tours in the Middle East that, while definitely tourism, are also more. According to this company’s web site, “We’ve learned to appreciate this unique culture, and want to share its richness and beauty with others. We offer experiences more than tours.” Let me say this, if you’re going to take a great vacation and God gives you grace for it, go to Laos, Bhutan, or the Maldives. And while you’re there, represent Christ for all you’re worth. It will be good for people in these lands (and many others) to have a conversation with an American who loves Jesus. Maybe it’s a fuzzy line between a short-term mission and a tour or vacation in an unreached area. That’s fine with me. Let’s just be honest about the purposes and give some thought to how believers from other countries may view our trips.
Questions? Problems? Submissions? Contact publisher/managing editor Marti Smith.