Dear Southern Baptist,
Can I let you in on a little secret? I love you! Really, I do! You do so many things well. You seek to be biblical in all things. You know the power of partnerships. You defend the Truth. You love others. You make theological education possible so that men and women (myself included) can be better equipped for gospel ministry. You produce materials to help believers and churches grow in their faith and share that faith with others. You work together to see churches planted here in America and around the world. And (my favorite thing about you) you desire and strive to take the gospel to the ends of the earth for the glory of God. He has been using you in mighty ways to speak His truth to those who have never heard the good news that Christ died to bring them eternal life.
I’ve benefited from your generosity more than most. I grew up in your churches and profited more than I even know from consistently hearing Scripture being taught. You’ve prayed for me and encouraged me to be more like Christ throughout my life. As a repeat seminary student, I’ve received tremendous financial assistance from the Cooperative Program for my education. Working on campus, I get to see and experience first-hand how God uses you to bless others. During my Journeyman term with the IMB, you paid the way. Without your generosity, I would not be who I am or where I am today.
For all of these reasons, I thank you. But still my heart breaks and yearns for greater things for us. Right now our IMB leadership is being forced to make extremely difficult decisions due to lack of funding our lack of giving. Did you know that at this very moment HUNDREDS of our missionaries are preparing to receive letters asking them to consider early retirement to help alleviate some of the financial strain?
Let that sink in for a minute. HUNDREDS. These are our soldiers on the frontlines. These are men and women who have sacrificed more than we know to fight the good fight. THEY ARE ADVANCING THE KINGDOM. And they are being asked to leave.
Try as I may, I cannot wrap my mind around the situation. If they leave, what happens? What happens to the new believer in Africa who no longer has someone to disciple him and show him what it means to live for the Lord? What happens to the church plant in the Middle East that is still training up national leaders? What happens to the countless lost people in Asia who have still not heard the gospel? What happens to the new missionaries in Europe with no veterans to impart wisdom and encouragement to them? What happens to their families? What happens to us? Will we allow this to continue?
Don’t get me wrong, I still know God is in control. I still believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). But I also believe it’s time that we stop turning God’s promises into our excuses. We cannot shrug off what is happening around us with some vague, apathetic mention of God’s sovereignty.
I cannot summarize here what these workers endure because it is different for each one. I can tell you that most of them face greater difficulties than we could possibly imagine. They are on Satan’s radar and he wants to destroy them. Governments despise them. Nationals are suspicious of them. Many of their living situations would be unbearable for you or me.
Yet they embrace it. They count all things as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. They rejoice in one lost lamb returned to the Shepherd. They know that, no matter how difficult the path may be, the journey is worth it. They have denied themselves, taken up their crosses, and followed Him. And now we are politely asking them to turn around and go back.
Why? So I can eat out more often? So I can buy that new outfit? So I can get a bigger house or a nicer car? So I can go see that movie with my friends? So I can have a better retirement or a fancy toy or more money in the bank? Because I just don’t care? Sadly, yes. Most of these things are not necessarily wrong, but with our lack of generosity we tell them that what they are doing for Christ’s kingdom is less important than _______________. And sadly, yes, I am guilty of this as well.
So now I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Will you join me? Will you increase your giving to the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon? (A portion of CP gifts and all money donated to LM goes directly to workers on the field.) Will you commit to praying more for our workers? Our money is useless apart from the Lord’s power. Let’s work together and turn this thing around. The harvest is still plentiful and the workers are still few. We should be sending workers to the field, not sending the workers we have packing.
This will take more than a one-time gift (though every little bit helps and would be appreciated). This will take long-term commitment from us. If you are willing to take this journey with me – to give to the point that it makes you nervous, to pray consistently, and to watch the Lord do amazing things through His people – please comment with “I’m in.”
*To read more about what’s going on, follow this link.