Preparing Financially for Mission Field
If the Lord is leading you into missions, or if you are a pastor and someone in your church feels called to missions, I would encourage you to consider one aspect of the missionary life that begins before ever crossing an ocean. Some of the missionary’s most vital decisions are those he will make during the period of preparation involved to forsake all and follow Him.
When Paul was called to be a missionary, he did not delay before being sent out by the Antioch Church. [Acts 13:1-4] When God calls a man to leave his homeland to serve Him in another land, his journey should begin without delay. When God told Abram to leave his country and go unto a land that God would show him, Abram began making preparations right away for his journey. “So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him” (Genesis 12:4a). When God appeared unto Moses and told him to go to Egypt and deliver His people, Moses argued with God for twenty-nine verses. But, once he had surrendered to go, Moses immediately made preparations for his family to leave and go to Egypt.
God has a people prepared for the missionary, and He is preparing the missionary for a specific people. The harvest truly is plenteous, but laborers who are ready to go are still few. The fields are white already to harvest, but something is delaying the reapers. Churches are ready and willing to send forth workers, but those workers are hindered from leaving in a timely fashion.
Missionaries in our generation are burdening themselves with something today that my father and grandfather did not face on the mission field half a century ago. Missionary candidates today are burdened with what the Bible calls the servitude of debt: “the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). Debt will weigh down the missionary before he even sets out on his endeavors to reach the world and will prolong his arrival to the field. Then once he arrives on the field, debt will hinder him from having the freedom to work as he needs to. With that in mind, there are a few principles the missionary can adhere to in order to be more effective in his ministry.
• Do not take on debt.
When a church takes on a missionary for monthly support, the hard-earned mission’s offerings are expected to be used for future work on the field, not to pay off debt accrued before the missionary’s departure. Might it be that the reason it is taking missionaries three to four years to finish deputation is that they have to raise enough money to make monthly payments on debt they have incurred before even arriving on the field? A servant of God who is debt-free has the freedom to serve only one Master. Too often the prospective missionary is delayed by several years in order to pay off debt before he is even able to go to Bible College or leave on deputation. Satan will use this interval between God’s call and the missionary’s departure to discourage him from ever setting out on this wonderful journey! Therefore, it is important that the missionary be free of debt in order to focus on the goal ahead.
• Form a cabinet of counselors.
The prospective missionary would be wise to have a cabinet of counselors as he prepares to go to the field. In addition to his pastor, he should seek advice from other missionaries who have been successful on the deputation trail. They will have keen insight into the details of what it takes to get to the field in a timely manner. Another member of his cabinet of counselors should be missionaries on the field to where he is going. They will be able to help him with budgeting questions for that particular field. Though living expenses may be lower on a particular field, visa costs and legal fees for staying in the country may be higher than other more expensive countries. These and many others are examples of how a veteran missionary can help with the young missionary’s preparation for service in that particular country. The missionary will be better equipped to achieve his purpose if he seeks practical counsel from Godly men.
“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” (Proverbs 15:22)
• Learn to be content without nonessential comforts.
Missionaries today enjoy comforts that our forefathers in missions did not have. However, missionaries today still do without many comforts that they would have back in America. I am not implying that the prospective missionary should deprive himself of the American way of life. What I am saying, though, is that the missionary in training should not go into debt in order to enjoy these nonessential comforts. Does the Bible College student really need to have the latest cell phone, the newest laptop, or the nicest car on the college parking lot? These are just a few of the items he probably will not have on the mission field, so should he go into debt in order to enjoy these for a season?
The Apostle Paul said that he had to learn to be content. Learning to be content is a process. And for the missionary, this process should not start when he sets foot on the soil of his new harvest field. He will have enough difficulties to face and learn to live with upon arriving to his field; learning to be content without American comforts should not be an added burden.
I would also encourage each church member to strive to be in a position financially that you are prepared to give or to go when God speaks to you about doing so. When God calls us, as He called Abram, Moses and Paul, we also should not be so cumbered about with the weights of this world that we cannot follow the Lord’s leading in our lives. God has a time of preparation He intends each of us to go through in order to accomplish His will. For the missionary, deputation is part of that preparation time. However, that time should not be prolonged due to comforts that have brought on unnecessary debt.
“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)