Missionaries and money: Sacrificing the idol of financial independence
My wife and I had been following Jesus for a little more than six years when He answered our prayers and told us that He had a work for us to accomplish on the other side of the world.
Our pastor, our church’s leaders, and many of our fellow members confirmed to us in a variety of ways that they too believed God was calling us to be missionaries and that we should move forward in obedience.
But the joy and excitement we experienced at that time quickly morphed in to fear and anxiety when what we knew conceptually prior to that moment now became reality–that our obedience required us to depend on God’s financial provision through other believers.
For us, making the transition from the mode of providing for our family’s needs independently of other people’s generosity, in to the traditional missionary status of financial dependence on fellow believers to do what God had called us to do, was one of the most difficult obstacles we had to overcome.
Because our hard-wiring, our culture’s influence, and our work histories all coalesced together to convince us that independence–especially in finances, is always a virtue. And that dependence–especially in the realm of money, is a weakness to be avoided at all costs.
Although we had already learned that most of the principles God’s kingdom operates by are the polar opposite of the world’s, this one in particular required the most attention, the greatest effort, and the most help from others to actually embrace and navigate by.
Yet once we did, we saw firsthand the following fruits that others had told us would be produced if we stepped forward in faith:
1–Our existing relationships with those who supported us financially were deepened and strengthened.
2–The financial partnership we needed for us to live among the people we went to reach was both a powerful expression to them of the kind of unity within the body of Christ that Jesus said would help the world to believe the Father had sent Him, and a clear declaration of His great love for them.
3–The biblical description of the local church as the “body” of Christ in which the various members work together in unity to meet the needs of its individual members was reinforced to us.
4–An indirect, but easily understood connection was made between the people we were trying to reach and the financial supporters that made our presence among them possible.
5–A number of our financial partners told us that the self-sacrificial choices they needed to make to free up the money for our support actually gave them a small taste of what Jesus Himself experienced, and they believed they had been drawn closer to Him and the others who had also made this significant decision.
As difficult as it was for us to ignore our fears and anxiety and step forward in to dependence on God and His people for our financial needs to be met, my family and every person who partnered with us financially rejoice at the opportunity our Missionary God provided us to participate together in taking the Gospel to the nations.
Photo by Stephen Leonardi on unsplash.com