September 4, 2014
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Even a novice Christian knows these verses as The Great Commission. I am afraid it could be better know as The Great Omission. The grand global missions movement of the 1800s has slowed considerably as we approach 2015. Yes, there is a flurry of activity, but for the amount of seed sown there is not much harvesting going on. In fact, we are losing ground.
That is tied to many factors. It is easy to see that we entered into the age of apostasy in the late 1800s. Many mainline churches have apostatized or are heading into that direction. Cults have flourished and because iniquity abounds the love of many wax cold in the sound churches. All of this equates to fewer volunteers for the field as well as funds to send them. The churches that are not entertainment based or not kowtowing to the culture are dying off. Many countries are closing their doors to missionaries as we enter the end times. You must have a needed secular skill or you have to do underground work to minister in many countries of the world.
With all that against missions, I am confident to say that the day of the American or European missionary is nearly over. At least, in the format that we consider normal. This is good, actually. We now have to regroup and get ready for a new and I believe better way. Yet, it is not really new. We sent missionaries to train nationals to be pastors to their people. Yet, many do not train and go on. They stay for an entire lifetime. It is like a mother who does not want to let go of her child on the first day of school.
I understand that you fall in love with a people and they you, but the Apostle Paul kept moving on. Thessaloniki had him for three weeks and he left them though not entirely by his choice. They did OK. I know that many missionaries use one place as a home base and start churches in other areas. Still, in this age it is best if we start bringing our people home and support the base we have in whatever country.
Unless it is a brand new country, we have a core of people already trained and even schools established. Turn the nationals loose and pull our people home. Find them churches to pastor and there are plenty or find them an area where there are people congregated of the nationality they were working with in their native country. Should not be too hard. Get them self-sufficient and then pour the money back into the nationals.
Even with the best of intentions and willingness to sacrifice it takes far more money to send an American missionary to another country than it costs to support a national. They are used to the conditions and do not need to adapt. There is no need for language school. No cultural training required. Their families are there so no home sickness or emergency international flights. They are already immune to the local diseases. All they need is support and tools. For a family of four Americans, they may need $2500 a month support. The national with six kids may only need $500. You can support five national workers for the price of one American family.
With many churches lacking funds and having bi-vocational pastors and staff, and that number will grow, it is going to be increasingly harder for a missionary to get his support. Those in Independent Churches can take up to five years to get their support and some have come home in the middle of their first term because churches dropped them. Even in groups where boards garner the funds for their missionaries things are going to get tight, if they are not tight already. Many missionaries go to the field for one term or less because they cannot adapt to the culture, family issues or the inability to handle the loneliness and pressures causes them to quit. Years of fundraising and training are poof. That won’t happen with a national.
I think it is time to be better stewards and no longer strongly encourage Americans to be missionaries unless they are going to an area where they can get in with a secular skill and be self-supporting.
I can think of two national missionaries that you can consider for support.
The Saripallis in India. He has been involved in establishing 12 churches and currently has two new mission works. He has a college and has been involved with the translation of Scripture into Telegu. You can reach him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another one is Moises Rocacorba in the Philippines. He has also built a church that has grown so large that he needs to buy land to build. He takes some of his support and supports other pastors. He has many ministries active in reaching his people. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
If your church is wanting to expand its missions program consider these two and other nationals. In American terms, get more bang for your buck or really more souls for the sowing. America is now a mission field. Let the natives be missionaries to their people and let ours do the same. Maranatha!