This post is the 4th entry in a 10 part series on Why I think Pastors should be Personally Involved in International Missions. It’s written specifically to Pastors but the principles apply to all leaders in the church. The uninitiated should begin here.
Reason #4: Because Our Brothers And Sisters Need Help
Pastoring in New England is an interesting thing. There are several things that (at least for me) are way more fun and fulfilling. There is an excitement to ministry here that I honestly didn’t experience as often in the bible belt. And if we ever get the opportunity to sit down over a cup of coffee, we can swap stories.
But it’s also REALLY expensive to live and work in New England. Churches in New England have very little resources and it’s hard to make ends meet sometimes. And because I’ve worked for churches in the south, I am very familiar with how many of them structure their budgets and spend their money. And quite honestly, it can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. While it’s not at all true for even most churches in the bible belt, I think we all know churches that spend money on things they don’t actually need. And all the while, I’m over here hoping we can pay the heat bill this winter.
And that reveals something about my heart that I’m not proud of.
My tendency is to put myself in the category of “Has Not”. I fix my eyes upstream at pastors and churches that God has blessed (and are likely using those blessings to His glory) and sulk that I haven’t been blessed as much as they have. I compare buildings and numbers. Before my heart can even catch it, I’ve made an internal assumption that “If I had the resources they had, I’d handle it better because of _______”.
This is sinful on more than one level. Not only because of my arrogance and my covetousness, but also because of my assumption that I’m at the bottom of the stream. I’m far from being a “Has Not”.
1st John 3 tells us
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
We have brothers and sisters in other places who sometimes need help. We have people who are on the same team as us pastoring and leading churches with significantly less resources than us and they are doing so faithfully. One of the reasons you need to be involved in international missions is because God has blessed you beyond what you immediately comprehend and those resources weren’t given to end with you. You are not as “Has Not” either.
There are helpful and unhelpful ways to to come along side pastors/churches in other places. Don’t hear me arguing for a Missionary Sugar Daddy, no one is served well with that. I’m not advocating for sweeping in and being a functional savior for a pastor or church in a poorer location. But swinging the pendulum all the way to other side of things is not helpful either. We either operate like we’re on the same team or we don’t. If we truly believe that there is no such thing as an “Us and a Them” in the Church, then openhandedness will not be something we just get to sometime down the road. It will not be something we will get to when we’re a little more comfortable here— It will lead to a sacrificial heart-stance right now. Your brothers and sisters need you. They need me. Not because we’re their savior but because we share One.
Brother pastor, be personally involved in the international missions efforts of your church. Connect AS BROTHERS with pastors and churches in those other places. Help them be successful in ministry. Treat them as the equals that they are. Share resources with them as the equal that they are. The time-tested reality is that if your relationship with the missionaries your church supports are limited to a picture on a support card pinned to a bulletin board somewhere, then they can only ever be projects to you. But when you spend your time working alongside them and eating meals in their space, they become far more than that. You see them them as the brothers they are and you see their needs as something you can sometimes do something about. And being wisely and lovingly openhanded with your brother is far easier in that moment.