Sending First Time Missionaries: Finance on the Field
8 Aug 2016
Sometimes the Kingdom of God is very unAustralian. Our tall poppy syndrome does not sit comfortably with the biblical mandate to respect those in authority. In the same way, prospective missionaries asking other Aussies for money can be very uncomfortable both for those asking and those being asked.
Yet the Kingdom of God has radically different values concerning money than secular society. We embrace generosity, caring for the poor, tithing to our church fellowships. Practices that may seem foolish to the world, but make excellent sense when you serve a God who is more generous than we can ever be.
The Great Commission is a command from Jesus to the church, the whole church, that means every Christian. We are to take the gospel to every ethnic group on this planet. It’s a big job, but not every Christian is called to move overseas. Some of us need to send and some of us need to go. It’s a team task and there are many roles to be taken hold of.
One of the ways that senders contribute is by giving: providing the financial means for other members of the “body” to go. If you are asked to consider supporting a missionary, you are being asked to become part of their support team. You become an active player in the Great Commission.
How does the money side of things work for new missionaries with Pioneers? It starts with two budgets. One that encompasses all expenses needed for their first term on the field (usually two to three years). This budget needs to be provided for through regular support gifts, pledges to give $40 a month, $1800 a year, or whatever amount and frequency each supporter can commit to. In Pioneers we ask new missionaries to raise 100% of this budget in pledged support.
The second budget is just for first time missionaries and includes all their upfront costs prior to leaving or when they first arrive on the field. This Pre-departure Budget includes things like airfares, vaccinations, and setting up house. These funds need to be raised through gifts given before the missionary departs.
So for first timers, regular support and one-off donations are both important and helpful.
What about the missionaries themselves, shouldn’t they be using their own money? Sure they should, and most missionaries are able to contribute from their own savings to their Pre-departure budget, usually some but not all of it. Once on the field their earning capacity is very restricted. Some missionaries work in a paid job, or even run a business to get a visa, but they are the exceptions.
How do I be a good financial sender?
- If someone preparing to go overseas asks you to consider supporting them, put any Aussie bias aside. Listen to their request, ask lots of questions, and then feel free to say you need time to think and pray about it. Don’t forget to get back to them.
- Commit to a level of giving as the Lord leads you and be faithful to give regularly. (Imagine what it would be like if your employer sometimes paid you and sometimes forgot!)
- Make sure you are receiving their prayer letters so you can stay connected with the missionaries and the ministry that you are investing in. As a support team member, it’s your ministry too.
Financial support is just one aspect of serving as a sender. Next week we will feature some of the other roles that are just as vital.