(Note: I received a reply to this. I would not have made this public but the Pastor threatened me to tell others about it instead of answering my question which he did not believe he needed to do. His response was less than cordial and perhaps that will be a subject for another day.)
A Missionary is someone who has been called by God to go preach the Gospel, usually to a foreign land. It is recognized in the Christian community that the missionary needs financial support to keep them operating.
Paul spoke about this in many places as well as calling out the Corinthians who promised a year before to support him but never did.
It is not necessary to confirm the fact that God uses individuals as well as Churches to support the missionary in his work but how far does that commitment go?
I got this letter the other day from a former supporting Church. I first had to Face Book , email and leave voice mail on their phone until I finally received this response:
I received your message concerning support over the last three months. We sent a letter to you (or your missions agency) about our need to discontinue support. We have had to make some unfortunate adjustments to our missions budget. We apologize for this inconvenience and we appreciate your understanding. It has been our privilege to partner with you over these years and we pray God will continue to bless and use your ministry.
(Name left out to save embarrassment to the offending party)
Here was my response:
I never received such a letter. Additionally, The XXXXXXXXX Baptist Church and Pastor XXXXXXXXX made a commitment to support us. In the eyes of God, it resembles a marriage commitment. Could you imagine a man sending his wife and children a letter saying I am not going to support you any longer, be warm and fed?
XXXXX Baptist has a huge amount of missionaries that they support and I am sure that you have not cut them all off. How did you make your determination to cut us off?
We started this ministry with $550 per month to support our home, our family of four and to build a Church and outreach. It slowly grew to where it is today at $1200 or should I now say $1100 per month. Does one of your more than 100 missionaries work on such a budget?
I have a 21 year old car that I have to repair at least something on it, once a week. We cannot even afford to walk into a McDonalds.
Yet with all that we have brought the gospel to thousands of people. Every adult in our Church is well versed in the presentation of the Gospel and even most of the children. When you go door knocking with the Church, do you see your children squatting in the road, presenting the Gospel to others? How many Churches can claim that?
We are in the poorest of the poor areas of the Philippines where the Infamous Payatas dumpsite lies. Hundreds were killed there when the landslide rolled over their makeshift houses some years ago. That is the life for these people.
We show them Jesus by teaching them academics. Some of these children are in classrooms with 80 other children. Our children excel in their studies. We also teach English so they have at least a future working in a call center instead of digging in the garbage. We do not just tell them, “God bless you, be warm and fed”.
I could go on and on but if you had looked at our websites or went to our photo website with over 20,000 photos or went to our “Updates” on our Church site where we have documentation of every month we have been here since 2006 to the present, you would have already known that our mission has done the job you have asked us to do. That’s right, when you said you supported us you actually took us on as your missionaries. We sent you a letter once every three months but even more so, we sent a monthly report by email. How many do that?
So, I really need to know. How did you make your decision to cut us? You could have reduced everyone by three quarters or even one half. Why would you cut your poorest people off?
I might add this. If there is a problem now with attendance it is not because you are a bad preacher. I heard one of your sermons. It was pretty good. Ironically it was about what a good Church was and in it you described ours to a “t”. The problem lies in the connection between man and God. Only you know what will repair that.
We will survive. The only reason I am writing you this letter is to show you that how you make decisions are cruel and unjust.
They affect people. They affect the missionaries and the people they serve. Did you know that the food my children eat comes from our supporters? Your decision is without care or concern and I really do want a reply to find out how you made your decision.
BTW, I know missionaries don’t usually tell others what they think. I do. I believe if Paul was here, he would tell you a lot more.
Love God and your Church and let God build it. He Will.
Needless to say, as of this posting, I have received no response from the Pastor.
Now, I could understand if there is a financial problem but the question still exists, “How was the decision made?”
There are “famous missionaries” who have tons of support and if I checked, I could almost guarantee that they were not cut. So, someone determined we were not relevant and just cut us.
Let’s look at his meager response once more:
“I received your message concerning support over the last three months. We sent a letter to you (or your missions agency) about our need to discontinue support.”
They sent me a letter. He is not even sure where he sent it. It shows that he has no idea who we are or has any concern for us. It sounds like a Dear John letter.
“We have had to make some unfortunate adjustments to our missions budget.”
This is what our mission was deduced to. We are now the result of an unfortunate “adjustment”. It sounds like chiropractic gone seriously awry.
“ We apologize for this inconvenience and we appreciate your understanding. “
I always hated this insincere, canned statement, “We apologize for this inconvenience”
When my internet has been down for three weeks I hear that from the Company. That is not inconvenience. I paid for a service I did not receive. That is robbery.
In the case of the church which promised to support us and our budget depends on that support, the inconvenience may mean less food for the kids or some other “inconvenient” factor. Remember, when your budget is $1,200 per month and it is cut to $1,100 something terrible has to give.
“We appreciate your understanding”
Understanding of what? We are confused, hurt, disappointed and perhaps a little jaded but we are not understanding.
You never told us why you cut us. With probably over 150 missionaries, why us? Was it because we had the least money and were the least relevant? Tell me again what you have told us that we might understand? Did you call and ask for our opinions or prayers? Did you ask us how it would affect us?
Does this for a moment seem like a Christian organization dealing fairly with another one?
It has been our privilege to partner with you over these years and we pray God will continue to bless and use your ministry.
Then we get the old, “Be warm and Fed”.
It could not be clearer. We were just divorced. No reason given. The Church will suffer and that will be it.
I only pray that the way they treat others will be the way they are treated.
Finally , the last word sums it up.
I do believe this Church does not have a chance to survive if this word is really how they feel. They are “Sincerely determined to divorce a poor church with many children”.
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Thanks for your consideration.