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Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church discuss Do missionaries mooch? in the The Church forums; Are missionaries mooches? How? and when? How should they curb this? What habits/actions need to change?...

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    Pergamum's Avatar
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    Do missionaries mooch?

    Are missionaries mooches?


    How? and when?

    How should they curb this? What habits/actions need to change?
    Pergamum


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    Do you desire to limit this to stories from the Reformed community?
    Rich Koster
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    Pergamum's Avatar
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    Any and all stories will help, as well as tips to missionaries to save them from even the appearance of moochericty.
    Pergamum


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    smhbbag is offline. Puritanboard Senior
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    I guess a 'no' still warrants participation in this thread, as it might attract more who will say 'yes.'

    I've never seen or felt mooching from a missionary, in my opinion or that of my church regarding those we support.

    The missionary's job is to care for his family, preach the gospel, and build disciples and churches. Our job is to pray for them, love them, and take as many of the earthly, financial pressures off of them as we can, so they can be free to do those things. Our missionaries fulfill their calling, and we do ours, though we are both subject to human failings and imperfections in them.

    So, no, I can't think of any missionary in my personal awareness where mooching as been any concern at all. Our church sends far more missionaries than our body is able to support (denominational funds help the rest), although our giving is quite strong.We have one family in Western China that has worked for two years, with no real converts. But they are preaching and testifying, and that is what they are there to do. Not once has anyone questioned our continued support for them. The only concern I hear is to add more prayer.
    Jeremy
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    If the missionary isn't doing his job by proclaiming the gospel in a clear and credible way then i can say yes. All other cases (with few exceptions) I would say no they are not a mooch.
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    SolaScriptura's Avatar
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    Pergy,

    Most missionaries have to raise their financial support by going out and asking for money. One cannot do that for long before one gets over our cultural hangup about asking for things. Over the years I've talked to some missionaries who claim to not "enjoy" asking for money and other things (but they are nonetheless all pretty good at asking anyway). I've talked to others who openly profess to have absolutely no qualms with asking for things. One expressed shock at my surprise and said - I'll never forget - "I ask for everything. I'm doing the Lord's work and when I ask I'm enabling them to be a blessing. And to be a blessing is to receive a blessing." Isn't that the logic of Swaggart or Baker or a faith healer?

    While I have experienced a few things that I definitely think cross the line into mooching, I believe that the seeming appearance of being a mooch stems from the missionary having a lifestyle and livelihood based in large part upon the generosity and giving of others and as such they are comfortable with receiving and being willing to allow others to pay for them, etc. Whereas the predominant cultural norm in our society is that there should be some degree of reciprocity and/or standing on one's own feet, i.e, continually or merely repeatedly allowing someone to pay for one's own way is a surefire strategy for becoming known as a mooch.

    Some things I've seen that really irked me:

    1. Most recently, a couple came to stay in our house overnight as they were en route to another city to raise support. They asked if they could do "a little" laundry, we said "sure," and at that point they brought in 5 stuffed kitchen-sized garbage bags filled with laundry.

    2. About 6 months ago, another couple on furlough was at our place giving us their "sales pitch" replete with stories and pictures of the extreme poverty in their area of service. I asked how much money they needed monthly support - it's just the 2 of them, no kids - and I was cited a dollar amount a mere few hundred a month less than I make in one of this nation's most expensive cities, a monthly income almost 21x the average in that area. Don't tell me sob stories of all the poverty in your area and then tell me that you need over 100k per year for 2 people to live in that poor place. Don't tell me that you're just heartsick and desperate to do the Lord's work, but oh, we need almost 21x the average income in order to do it. How many pastors in this country make even 2x the average, much less 21x! Gimme a break.

    3. A missionary I support is regularly - about once a quarter - sending out an email asking for extra gifts ("I could really use a new chain saw to help cut firewood, would you consider giving?" "My truck is acting up and it is proving to be a burden on time and resources to fix, would you consider donating so that I can purchase a new 4x4 with towing package?" "The tuition at the private school we send our son to has gone up unexpectedly, would you please send money?" "We want to do an add-on to our home to be able to host larger Bible studies, would you consider donating to the project?" My favorite was last summer: "Due to some unexpected expenses this year we don't have money to take a vacation, would you consider a one-time donation to help us enjoy a much needed trip home?".

    4. A number of years ago I agreed to meet over lunch with a missionary candidate who was raising support. He wanted to give me his "pitch" and I agreed to listen and consider. We had lunch and THEN when the bills came he said he was low on money and needed to buy gas to get to the church he was visiting that night and he asked if I would pay for his lunch.

    Anyway, perhaps there is no genuine mooching going on, but sometimes it seems that way.
    Ben
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    py3ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaScriptura View Post
    2. About 6 months ago, another couple on furlough was at our place giving us their "sales pitch" replete with stories and pictures of the extreme poverty in their area of service. I asked how much money they needed monthly support - it's just the 2 of them, no kids - and I was cited a dollar amount a mere few hundred a month less than I make in one of this nation's most expensive cities. Don't tell me sob stories of all the poverty in your area and then tell me that you need over 100k per year for 2 people to live in that poor place.
    Sometimes missions agencies set absurd amounts. For instance, one mission says that a couple in Mexico City needs about $36,000 a year in support; it's certainly possible to spend that much, but it's also possible for a family of six to live decently on that amount, so a couple would probably be able to do it for less.
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    Rich Koster's Avatar
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    I once was supporting a missionary who started out good and went off track. He got married and naturally, that required he raise a little bit more support. However, the update letters were becoming more like post cards from every place they were going on vacation. When they bragged about how they were doing a no cost to participate bingo, to attract people to fill out contact cards, I wrote them a letter informing them I was dropping my support and why. I considered them to be a mooch because they were using support money for things I considered excessive and not true to the original mission that was presented to us.
    Rich Koster
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    a mere housewife's Avatar
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    The other side of this is that missionaries often do without so much that many of us take for granted. My mom told me that when they went to Korea as missionaries when I was little -- 3 children and a 4th on the way -- the mission board at first supported them at the same rate as a single, elderly lady, who had been there long enough that she had many private gifts. We spent our first winter in South Korea without hot water, in a mostly unheated house, my mom unable to take language classes because there was not enough money for her bus fare, eating noodles and tomato sauce. I wasn't aware of this (for my mom rarely speaks of her own hardships) until a few years ago when those years came up somehow in conversation, and she mentioned to me how hard that time was for her. I gather that eventually someone inquired and the data was adjusted.

    This would make me think that perhaps mission boards/churches should be careful to inquire regularly to make sure the missionary is adequately provided for and weight their suspicions on this end of the scale. Presumably sending churches/denominations have some confidence in a man's character and dedication, so thinking of him as a moocher without evidence of his attempting to use the ministry as a means to a life of ease would seem unwarranted (especially when he is are working in places where 'a life of ease' would be a ridiculous characterisation -- exposed to illnesses and hardships and risks which most people would not wish for themselves or their families).
    Heidi
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    SolaScriptura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    The other side of this is that missionaries often do without so much that many of us take for granted. My mom told me that when they went to Korea as missionaries when I was little -- 3 children and a 4th on the way -- the mission board at first supported them at the same rate as a single, elderly lady, who had been there long enough that she had many private gifts. We spent our first winter in South Korea without hot water, in a mostly unheated house, my mom unable to take language classes because there was not enough money for her bus fare, eating noodles and tomato sauce. I wasn't aware of this (for my mom rarely speaks of her own hardships) until a few years ago when those years came up somehow in conversation, and she mentioned to me how hard that time was for her. I gather that eventually someone inquired and the data was adjusted.

    This would make me think that perhaps mission boards/churches should be careful to inquire regularly to make sure the missionary is adequately provided for and weight their suspicions on this end of the scale. Presumably sending churches/denominations have some confidence in a man's character and dedication, so thinking of him as a moocher without evidence of his attempting to use the ministry as a means to a life of ease would seem unwarranted (especially when he is are working in places where 'a life of ease' would be a ridiculous characterisation -- exposed to illnesses and hardships and risks which most people would not wish for themselves or their families).
    SO... since this was a thread about whether or not missionaries mooch and not about whether or not some missionaries have difficult field assignments, what I'm taking away from your post is that we need to bear in mind the horrible burden of being a missionary and remember that they therefore deserve to be treated to this that and the other whenever they have the chance. Am I right or wrong?
    Ben
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    a mere housewife's Avatar
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    Ben, I think that probably the 'treats' they get are as well deserved as the treats many of us have more regularly or more as a matter of course. However I was just posting some of my own firsthand experience of missionaries, because I think there is an 'inside' of hardship and doing without, to the external appearance of 'mooching' which many don't have a lot of contact with, and so may not be taking into consideration (and I think it ought to be considered in such a discussion).
    Heidi
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    smhbbag is offline. Puritanboard Senior
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    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.

    If they are sent by their individual church or denomination, their individual church or denomination should support them, with no need for any regular (or irregular) sales pitches. The sending institution, of course, has every right to receive general accounting of the money, or to insist on paying directly for the non-personal expenses themselves.

    The task of planting or pastoring a foreign church is essentially the duty of an elder, and good elders are worthy of double honor. Double expectation, double responsibility, double honor and support.

    I cannot imagine feeling mooched upon by any missionary, unless I had doubts about their dedication or discipline in their calling. If your'e convinced of the necessity of their work, and they are doing it, mooching doesn't enter the question. And I don't care one bit if they are able to live on much less than I am in their location, while they make more than I do (now that I think about it, all of our missionaries live in cheaper places than me, and make more than me). If I felt the need to lower the support of a missionary, whatever reason gave me that feeling would likely make me question their call itself.
    Jeremy
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    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.
    There may be others, but the only denominational missionaries I know of who are fully funded by the denomination are those sent by the SBC and OPC.
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    smhbbag is offline. Puritanboard Senior
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    But what is the rationale for other denominations and churches not doing the same?
    Jeremy
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    A problem that may be as big or bigger is alleged waste on the mission field with spending a lot of money on things like building unnecessary buildings, etc. I think Pergy has talked about this and I have heard it from a brother who was asked to work with the International Mission Board of the SBC but who later became an independent missionary (i.e. not sent by a denomination.) In at least some cases this is not the fault of the missionary but it's seen as the way to do it, etc. by the sending agencies themselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.

    If they are sent by their individual church or denomination, their individual church or denomination should support them, with no need for any regular (or irregular) sales pitches. The sending institution, of course, has every right to receive general accounting of the money, or to insist on paying directly for the non-personal expenses themselves.

    The task of planting or pastoring a foreign church is essentially the duty of an elder, and good elders are worthy of double honor. Double expectation, double responsibility, double honor and support.

    I cannot imagine feeling mooched upon by any missionary, unless I had doubts about their dedication or discipline in their calling. If your'e convinced of the necessity of their work, and they are doing it, mooching doesn't enter the question. And I don't care one bit if they are able to live on much less than I am in their location, while they make more than I do (now that I think about it, all of our missionaries live in cheaper places than me, and make more than me). If I felt the need to lower the support of a missionary, whatever reason gave me that feeling would likely make me question their call itself.
    It is true that the IMB fully funds their missionaries, but so many who want to serve are not approved by the IMB because of some violation of one of their thousands of rules. A couple who lived next to us in seminary were denied because their son has a lazy eye and there were no optometrists in the area that they wanted to serve. Really? Because of a lazy eye? This is the reason that many choose to go it on their own. I get a little tired of IMB types always talking about how the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The truth is that there are many who are qualified and would love to be missionaries but organizations like the IMB turn them down for silly reasons and then they are reduced to being "moochers"
    Bill
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    smhbbag is offline. Puritanboard Senior
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    A problem that may be as big or bigger is alleged waste on the mission field with spending a lot of money on things like building unnecessary buildings, etc. I think Pergy has talked about this and I have heard it from a brother who was asked to work with the International Mission Board of the SBC but who later became an independent missionary (i.e. not sent by a denomination.)
    I'm down with that, big-time. This is why many of the missionaries from our church are directly supported by our church. We do give to the IMB and have some missionaries sent by them. The waste is a big problem. That doesn't seem to be a problem with the model of missions - it's a theological problem of believing a steeple, organ, more committees than church members, and a bad chain restaurant next-door are necessary to do church properly. The model, I think, is self-evidently superior to missionaries doing door-to-door begging rather than evangelism.

    And Bill, that's an even bigger issue for us than the waste.
    Jeremy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    There may be others, but the only denominational missionaries I know of who are fully funded by the denomination are those sent by the SBC and OPC.
    FYI, the Christian and Missionary Alliance also fully supports their missionaries.

    Some churches (Park Street Church in Boston, for example) fully support their missionaries, as if they are a full-time employee of the church. There are additional restrictions in that. Park Street Church disallows their missionaries to seek support from others, and expect that the missionaries will spend their furloughs working at their church.

    Some at my home church favor the full support model, but as of now the philosophy of the missions committee is that, as the sending church, we want to be the primary sender in terms of financial support, but we also want to give the missionaries an opportunity to partner with individuals and other churches and give them the privilege of supporting and partnering with them.

    I believe the epistles support the idea that Paul received financial support from a number of churches and individuals.

    One of the major concerns is that missionaries often lose the support of their home church. They leave the country for a number of years, people forget about them, and when the leadership changes and finances get tight, the new pastor or elder board decides, hey, we need to cut something. If a missionary's eggs are all in one basket, then if that church fails to meet its obligations, then the missionary could be left high and dry.
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    When the PCA started, there were few churches that could support full time missionaries, and there was no denominational funding available. If the denomination had adopted a model that called for the denomination (or individual congregations) to fully support a missionary, the impact would have been far different.

    One of the large churches did propose a different administrative model, and the partnering with other agencies has also been shown to have drawbacks, but neither would have changed the need for multiple funding sources.

    ---------- Post added at 06:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:36 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Are missionaries mooches?
    And since Joshua hasn't joined in this thread, let me say to the original question, I'm sure that some missionaries, somewhere, at some time, have been mooches.
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    Keith Tacey is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    Allow me to share my personal experience as someone who does the Lord's work here in Vietnam.

    First let me say that (while many will not agree with this) I was not sent by a denomination or church. Friends and family have been praying for me since birth to go overseas, and after much personal prayer and seeking of wisdom, I knew that it was exactly what the Lord wanted. So, I may not be your traditional M, but that is who I am.

    I praise the Lord that I am using my degree in education here and I have a teaching job that pays the bills for me, my wife, and our baby who will be arriving in February. Most of the time I make enough money to provide for our family.

    I have only had to ask for money a handful of times. Most of the time when I have asked for money, it was for the locals. We payed for a life-saving heart surgery in which Truth was proclaimed to the family that we supported, we paid for a brain surgery for an infant and the entire family put their faith in Christ, and have helped others with basic needs.

    I have only asked for money personally 3 times. The first time was to send me here. My friends, family, and supporters paid for my ticket, my passport, my visa, and 2 months living expenses. The second time was because I needed an emergency surgery on my pacemaker and didn't have the money to fly home. I paid for the long haul flight out of my own pocket, and friends and family picked up local expenses and a local flight. The third time is just recently as my wife and I will be going back to America for 3 years so she can get US citizenship. As soon as she gets it, we are heading back home to Hanoi. We are doing this to be more "one" then we already are. Currently for my wife to leave the country and go to the US she needs to get a tourist visa which is not guaranteed. We will be covering a lot of the expenses to get back to America on our own, but we have also asked for help to lighten the burden on us. I don't consider any of this to be mooching.

    With all of that being said, I have seen Ms who live lavish lifestyles in 3rd world countries asking for support all the time, and the most they are doing in country is giving someone a drink of clean water. They go home multiple times a year on other people's dimes, and they spend way too much where they are working.

    Do Ms mooch? Many do, there is no doubt of that. How can we stop it? If an M is a member of a local church, that local church should get behind them fully spiritually and financially. If an M is not part of a local church, like myself, then I think it's ok to periodically ask for money, but don't expect it and don't guilt people for it. If you listen to God's call and you GO, then you should be ready to provide for your family even if you don't receive a dime in support. Another way for an M to avoid mooching, is to not join an organization that charges an arm and a leg in membership fees. I am not totally against M agencies, but many charge $10,000/year just to be a part of it.

    That's my experience; take it for what it's worth.

    Blessings,

    ~Keith Tacey
    Keith Tacey
    Hanoi, Vietnam
    Reformed Baptist/LBC 1689

  21. #21
    Pergamum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolaScriptura View Post
    Pergy,

    Most missionaries have to raise their financial support by going out and asking for money. One cannot do that for long before one gets over our cultural hangup about asking for things. Over the years I've talked to some missionaries who claim to not "enjoy" asking for money and other things (but they are nonetheless all pretty good at asking anyway). I've talked to others who openly profess to have absolutely no qualms with asking for things. One expressed shock at my surprise and said - I'll never forget - "I ask for everything. I'm doing the Lord's work and when I ask I'm enabling them to be a blessing. And to be a blessing is to receive a blessing." Isn't that the logic of Swaggart or Baker or a faith healer?

    While I have experienced a few things that I definitely think cross the line into mooching, I believe that the seeming appearance of being a mooch stems from the missionary having a lifestyle and livelihood based in large part upon the generosity and giving of others and as such they are comfortable with receiving and being willing to allow others to pay for them, etc. Whereas the predominant cultural norm in our society is that there should be some degree of reciprocity and/or standing on one's own feet, i.e, continually or merely repeatedly allowing someone to pay for one's own way is a surefire strategy for becoming known as a mooch.

    Some things I've seen that really irked me:

    1. Most recently, a couple came to stay in our house overnight as they were en route to another city to raise support. They asked if they could do "a little" laundry, we said "sure," and at that point they brought in 5 stuffed kitchen-sized garbage bags filled with laundry.

    2. About 6 months ago, another couple on furlough was at our place giving us their "sales pitch" replete with stories and pictures of the extreme poverty in their area of service. I asked how much money they needed monthly support - it's just the 2 of them, no kids - and I was cited a dollar amount a mere few hundred a month less than I make in one of this nation's most expensive cities, a monthly income almost 21x the average in that area. Don't tell me sob stories of all the poverty in your area and then tell me that you need over 100k per year for 2 people to live in that poor place. Don't tell me that you're just heartsick and desperate to do the Lord's work, but oh, we need almost 21x the average income in order to do it. How many pastors in this country make even 2x the average, much less 21x! Gimme a break.

    3. A missionary I support is regularly - about once a quarter - sending out an email asking for extra gifts ("I could really use a new chain saw to help cut firewood, would you consider giving?" "My truck is acting up and it is proving to be a burden on time and resources to fix, would you consider donating so that I can purchase a new 4x4 with towing package?" "The tuition at the private school we send our son to has gone up unexpectedly, would you please send money?" "We want to do an add-on to our home to be able to host larger Bible studies, would you consider donating to the project?" My favorite was last summer: "Due to some unexpected expenses this year we don't have money to take a vacation, would you consider a one-time donation to help us enjoy a much needed trip home?".

    4. A number of years ago I agreed to meet over lunch with a missionary candidate who was raising support. He wanted to give me his "pitch" and I agreed to listen and consider. We had lunch and THEN when the bills came he said he was low on money and needed to buy gas to get to the church he was visiting that night and he asked if I would pay for his lunch.

    Anyway, perhaps there is no genuine mooching going on, but sometimes it seems that way.
    Thanks, your candor is appreciated.

    ---------- Post added at 01:43 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:37 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by py3ak View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by SolaScriptura View Post
    2. About 6 months ago, another couple on furlough was at our place giving us their "sales pitch" replete with stories and pictures of the extreme poverty in their area of service. I asked how much money they needed monthly support - it's just the 2 of them, no kids - and I was cited a dollar amount a mere few hundred a month less than I make in one of this nation's most expensive cities. Don't tell me sob stories of all the poverty in your area and then tell me that you need over 100k per year for 2 people to live in that poor place.
    Sometimes missions agencies set absurd amounts. For instance, one mission says that a couple in Mexico City needs about $36,000 a year in support; it's certainly possible to spend that much, but it's also possible for a family of six to live decently on that amount, so a couple would probably be able to do it for less.
    My own amount that I gather is divided into two; (1) personal funds and (2) ministry funds.

    The minimum amount set by me and the agency together totals more than 4k per month. This would seem like an absurd amount were it all spent on personal funds. However, half of the raised funds are used for ministry needs (eg., I think I spent over 10,000 USD on medicines, surgeries, medivac flights for sick evangelists, bibles and ministry materials for poor evangelists).

    In one year's time I gathered about 80,000 USD, but my own personal funds still remained the same (W-2 has read 27.5k, 28k and we might break the 30k mark this year with baby, who let's us raise our amount a bit. However, supporters send me free books, gifts, etc, that - if their real value were counted - would be worth another thousand or so per year).

    So, this all gets a little embarrassing when supporters ask how much I have gathered in the last 12 months, etc.

    ---------- Post added at 01:47 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:43 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Koster View Post
    I once was supporting a missionary who started out good and went off track. He got married and naturally, that required he raise a little bit more support. However, the update letters were becoming more like post cards from every place they were going on vacation. When they bragged about how they were doing a no cost to participate bingo, to attract people to fill out contact cards, I wrote them a letter informing them I was dropping my support and why. I considered them to be a mooch because they were using support money for things I considered excessive and not true to the original mission that was presented to us.
    Before dropping this missionary did you ask about the details of these trips?

    In the last 3 years I went to Manila for Asia-wide discussions on mobilization, and then twice to Bali for agency-directed meetings, Australia to accompany a medivac patient, and then the western part of our country 4 or 5 times to meet guests, receive new people, etc. Generally, when we take these ministry-related trips, we try to take family and incorporate something fun into the mix, too. And when we take photographs, it is not usually of these long meetings, but are usually of the restaurants or pool or beach with the kids afterwards.

    ---------- Post added at 01:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:47 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Koster View Post
    I once was supporting a missionary who started out good and went off track. He got married and naturally, that required he raise a little bit more support. However, the update letters were becoming more like post cards from every place they were going on vacation. When they bragged about how they were doing a no cost to participate bingo, to attract people to fill out contact cards, I wrote them a letter informing them I was dropping my support and why. I considered them to be a mooch because they were using support money for things I considered excessive and not true to the original mission that was presented to us.
    p.s. I see you are from Covenant Baptist Church in NJ. When Nate came over here, he met us first in Bali, which was a lot of fun, and then we travelled to several different areas within the country and we travelled much. It took me three months to pay off all the expenses from those travels.

    ---------- Post added at 01:51 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:49 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    The other side of this is that missionaries often do without so much that many of us take for granted. My mom told me that when they went to Korea as missionaries when I was little -- 3 children and a 4th on the way -- the mission board at first supported them at the same rate as a single, elderly lady, who had been there long enough that she had many private gifts. We spent our first winter in South Korea without hot water, in a mostly unheated house, my mom unable to take language classes because there was not enough money for her bus fare, eating noodles and tomato sauce. I wasn't aware of this (for my mom rarely speaks of her own hardships) until a few years ago when those years came up somehow in conversation, and she mentioned to me how hard that time was for her. I gather that eventually someone inquired and the data was adjusted.

    This would make me think that perhaps mission boards/churches should be careful to inquire regularly to make sure the missionary is adequately provided for and weight their suspicions on this end of the scale. Presumably sending churches/denominations have some confidence in a man's character and dedication, so thinking of him as a moocher without evidence of his attempting to use the ministry as a means to a life of ease would seem unwarranted (especially when he is are working in places where 'a life of ease' would be a ridiculous characterisation -- exposed to illnesses and hardships and risks which most people would not wish for themselves or their families).
    Wow, thanks for the story. We have never personally lacked, but I know several couples here who are chronically under-supported and sometimes they live very, very plainly during those stretches.

    ---------- Post added at 01:52 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:51 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by SolaScriptura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    The other side of this is that missionaries often do without so much that many of us take for granted. My mom told me that when they went to Korea as missionaries when I was little -- 3 children and a 4th on the way -- the mission board at first supported them at the same rate as a single, elderly lady, who had been there long enough that she had many private gifts. We spent our first winter in South Korea without hot water, in a mostly unheated house, my mom unable to take language classes because there was not enough money for her bus fare, eating noodles and tomato sauce. I wasn't aware of this (for my mom rarely speaks of her own hardships) until a few years ago when those years came up somehow in conversation, and she mentioned to me how hard that time was for her. I gather that eventually someone inquired and the data was adjusted.

    This would make me think that perhaps mission boards/churches should be careful to inquire regularly to make sure the missionary is adequately provided for and weight their suspicions on this end of the scale. Presumably sending churches/denominations have some confidence in a man's character and dedication, so thinking of him as a moocher without evidence of his attempting to use the ministry as a means to a life of ease would seem unwarranted (especially when he is are working in places where 'a life of ease' would be a ridiculous characterisation -- exposed to illnesses and hardships and risks which most people would not wish for themselves or their families).
    SO... since this was a thread about whether or not missionaries mooch and not about whether or not some missionaries have difficult field assignments, what I'm taking away from your post is that we need to bear in mind the horrible burden of being a missionary and remember that they therefore deserve to be treated to this that and the other whenever they have the chance. Am I right or wrong?
    The religious version of secular "hardship duty" pay?

    ---------- Post added at 02:00 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:52 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.

    If they are sent by their individual church or denomination, their individual church or denomination should support them, with no need for any regular (or irregular) sales pitches. The sending institution, of course, has every right to receive general accounting of the money, or to insist on paying directly for the non-personal expenses themselves.

    The task of planting or pastoring a foreign church is essentially the duty of an elder, and good elders are worthy of double honor. Double expectation, double responsibility, double honor and support.

    I cannot imagine feeling mooched upon by any missionary, unless I had doubts about their dedication or discipline in their calling. If your'e convinced of the necessity of their work, and they are doing it, mooching doesn't enter the question. And I don't care one bit if they are able to live on much less than I am in their location, while they make more than I do (now that I think about it, all of our missionaries live in cheaper places than me, and make more than me). If I felt the need to lower the support of a missionary, whatever reason gave me that feeling would likely make me question their call itself.
    Maybe this is a subject for another OP (the advantages/disadvantages of denominational support from the denominational agency versus each missionary weaving his or her own network of support). I prefer modes of support raising which maximize the face-time between missionaries and congregations...even if this means more missionary travel on furlough.

    ---------- Post added at 02:08 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:00 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.
    There may be others, but the only denominational missionaries I know of who are fully funded by the denomination are those sent by the SBC and OPC.
    I am supported by several SBC churches. The common complaint I hear is that they want closer interaction with their missionaries ("we don't know any of our missionaries, nor can we choose which one to support if we just put funds into the pot").

    Therefore, rather than even the possibility of supporting an Arminian, and due to the increased face-to-face (and email) interaction gained by supporting a missionary who travels to raise support, several SBC churches support me and seem to like the fact that they know me, can ask me questions, etc.

    People support efforts and people they know, a faceless entity has a harder tim of gaining support.

    Also, the question of control comes into play. Centrally-funded missionaries usually find that these central headquarters also set policies from the center, also, which sometimes disallows varying fields to vary a bit. If the SBC sets your income, this shows a certain tendency to set other policies from the agency headquarters, leaving less room for a missionary and his local church to vary a bit from other missionaries on other fields, even within the same org (my own org allows quite a bit of freedom and I would not characterize them as authoritarian at all).

    ---------- Post added at 02:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:08 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    But what is the rationale for other denominations and churches not doing the same?
    Many baptists cannot cooperate to the level needed.

    Others don't like the idea of throwing money into a facelss pot and trusting a board to support the most worthy missionaries.

    Others want to see and talk to their missionaries and know their names and more personally have a connection with them (hard to do when support comes from a pot).

    ---------- Post added at 02:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:15 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill The Baptist View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    I don't understand why so many missionaries have to seek their own support. I hear tales of that often, but I've never seen it.

    If they are sent by their individual church or denomination, their individual church or denomination should support them, with no need for any regular (or irregular) sales pitches. The sending institution, of course, has every right to receive general accounting of the money, or to insist on paying directly for the non-personal expenses themselves.

    The task of planting or pastoring a foreign church is essentially the duty of an elder, and good elders are worthy of double honor. Double expectation, double responsibility, double honor and support.

    I cannot imagine feeling mooched upon by any missionary, unless I had doubts about their dedication or discipline in their calling. If your'e convinced of the necessity of their work, and they are doing it, mooching doesn't enter the question. And I don't care one bit if they are able to live on much less than I am in their location, while they make more than I do (now that I think about it, all of our missionaries live in cheaper places than me, and make more than me). If I felt the need to lower the support of a missionary, whatever reason gave me that feeling would likely make me question their call itself.
    It is true that the IMB fully funds their missionaries, but so many who want to serve are not approved by the IMB because of some violation of one of their thousands of rules. A couple who lived next to us in seminary were denied because their son has a lazy eye and there were no optometrists in the area that they wanted to serve. Really? Because of a lazy eye? This is the reason that many choose to go it on their own. I get a little tired of IMB types always talking about how the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The truth is that there are many who are qualified and would love to be missionaries but organizations like the IMB turn them down for silly reasons and then they are reduced to being "moochers"
    Yes, some orgs are too strict. Often, this is not due to "spiritual reasons" but due to a desire to insure missionaries on a group life plan or to minimize the health problems of those once on the field.

    Mission orgs are, shamefully, often very risk-averse.

    Here is a link to a snippet about Elinor Young, a women I admire greatly, who - despite polio helped minister to remote peoples:

    Missions - a Sovereign Grace Perspective: Elinor Young - missionary hero



    PSALM 147:

    He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.


    Elinor Young was born in Spokane, Washington, USA, on November 5, 1946. Her parents were Alfred Earl and Rosetta Young. Al (sometimes called Earl) was a “range manager” there in Washington state, helping farmers with many aspects of their raising of cattle.

    In December, 1951, Elinor contracted polio. She was in a hospital in Spokane, Washington, for seven months, then spent two years in out-patient therapy. Between the ages of 9 and 14, she was hospitalized in Shriner’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, several times.

    Elinor had committed herself to finding and following the Lord’s will from the age of 9! And as Elinor’s physical situation improved, she eventually became interested in working as a missionary overseas. After being accepted by RBMU (Regions Beyond Missionary Union – now called World Team), and raising her ministry support, at the age of 27, Elinor was able to begin her work in the Korupun (or Kimyal) tribe in Irian Jaya, Indonesia.

    She spent 17 years in Irian Jaya. In that remote interior mountain tribe, she did linguistic and translation work. She analyzed and learned the Kimyal language and began Bible translation, but, of necessity in such a mission setting, did various types of medical work (including tube feeding some babies), used the SSB radio to communicate with friends and mission leaders, as well as for air traffic with MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship), the link through small Cessna aircraft with the outside world for supplies, etc. (There were not – and still are not – any roads in that rugged mountainous area.) These formerly Stone Age people were transitioning from a barter economy to using currency, so Elinor was inevitably an economic consultant as well!

    In 1991, with her translation work far from completed, Elinor had a major PPS (Post Polio Syndrome) attack, and had to return to the States for major medical treatment. Her condition deteriorated for some time, precluding any hope of returning to minister in Irian Jaya. By late 1996 she could walk only a few feet, needed a respirator 18 hours out of 24. with no more than four consecutive hours free from it, struggled through thick chronic brain fatigue, and needed prescription pain relievers and sleep aids. Every few months measured new decline.

    Then, near the end of 1996, she did receive help through treatment by Futures Unlimited, Inc., and improved to the point that she began a ministry to other polio victims, primarily through writing and the internet. She was so thankful to the Lord for allowing her this new freedom and ability to minister! In May, 1998, she wrote: “Yes, I am enjoying to the hilt my new greater level of strength and health. I relish the ability it gives me to be involved in the kinds of things I was made for. I thrill at the prospect of fulfilled dreams.”

    In time, Elinor became more involved in various state-side ministries with her mission, World Team. Though officially retired due to disability, she remains as active as her limited energy will allow. She loves mentoring future missionaries, editing the Great Commission Kids magazine, speaking about missions, and trying to help God's people catch the passion of God's heart for the world.

    Now, in March, 2010, she has made a return trip to Irian Jaya (now called Papua, Indonesia), to attend the dedication of the Korupun New Testament, which her colleague, Rosa Kidd, and a team of Korupun nationals, have finished translating.

    Based on what we have seen of her life so far, we believe that Elinor will continue to serve the Lord with all the energy and strength He gives her, though far less than most other people enjoy. She will continue to be an inspiration to many! She will continue to be delighted whenever she hears that her life, and her trust in the Lord to use her despite her stringent limitations, has, in some small or great way, had an impact on others! She wants to encourage more involvement in every way possible, to get God’s Word to needy people at the very ends of the earth!

    http://www.worldteam.org/wp-content/.../GCKids.24.pdf

    ---------- Post added at 02:44 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:30 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by elnwood View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    There may be others, but the only denominational missionaries I know of who are fully funded by the denomination are those sent by the SBC and OPC.
    FYI, the Christian and Missionary Alliance also fully supports their missionaries.

    Some churches (Park Street Church in Boston, for example) fully support their missionaries, as if they are a full-time employee of the church. There are additional restrictions in that. Park Street Church disallows their missionaries to seek support from others, and expect that the missionaries will spend their furloughs working at their church.

    Some at my home church favor the full support model, but as of now the philosophy of the missions committee is that, as the sending church, we want to be the primary sender in terms of financial support, but we also want to give the missionaries an opportunity to partner with individuals and other churches and give them the privilege of supporting and partnering with them.

    I believe the epistles support the idea that Paul received financial support from a number of churches and individuals.

    One of the major concerns is that missionaries often lose the support of their home church. They leave the country for a number of years, people forget about them, and when the leadership changes and finances get tight, the new pastor or elder board decides, hey, we need to cut something. If a missionary's eggs are all in one basket, then if that church fails to meet its obligations, then the missionary could be left high and dry.
    Yes, I now know (or know of) 2 or 3 missionaries whose support (85% or so) came from one solitary church.....which then split or had internal troubles. Each time, this resulted in a loss or drop of support for the missionary because their eggs were all in one basket.

    I read that the average pastor's pulpit time in the same church is less than 3 years. This means that most mission orgs are more stable in policies and philosophies of ministry than local chrches in these days. Therefore, having a broad base of support is better insurance against drastic changes in missionary policies by local churches (which often do not even give 6-month's warning to the missionaries that they drop or reduce).
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
    -- David Livingstone

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    a mere housewife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I know several couples here who are chronically under-supported and sometimes they live very, very plainly during those stretches.
    Yes, that is what I was thinking of, along with extra hardships, which should be considered in any discussion of missionaries mooching.
    Heidi
    Steger, IL

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    For he was strong and selfless, and I am tied to me.
    But I have asked my Jesus to live his life in me . . .
    Behold his warm, his tangible, his dear humanity.'
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Tacey View Post
    Allow me to share my personal experience as someone who does the Lord's work here in Vietnam.

    First let me say that (while many will not agree with this) I was not sent by a denomination or church. Friends and family have been praying for me since birth to go overseas, and after much personal prayer and seeking of wisdom, I knew that it was exactly what the Lord wanted. So, I may not be your traditional M, but that is who I am.

    I praise the Lord that I am using my degree in education here and I have a teaching job that pays the bills for me, my wife, and our baby who will be arriving in February. Most of the time I make enough money to provide for our family.

    I have only had to ask for money a handful of times. Most of the time when I have asked for money, it was for the locals. We payed for a life-saving heart surgery in which Truth was proclaimed to the family that we supported, we paid for a brain surgery for an infant and the entire family put their faith in Christ, and have helped others with basic needs.

    I have only asked for money personally 3 times. The first time was to send me here. My friends, family, and supporters paid for my ticket, my passport, my visa, and 2 months living expenses. The second time was because I needed an emergency surgery on my pacemaker and didn't have the money to fly home. I paid for the long haul flight out of my own pocket, and friends and family picked up local expenses and a local flight. The third time is just recently as my wife and I will be going back to America for 3 years so she can get US citizenship. As soon as she gets it, we are heading back home to Hanoi. We are doing this to be more "one" then we already are. Currently for my wife to leave the country and go to the US she needs to get a tourist visa which is not guaranteed. We will be covering a lot of the expenses to get back to America on our own, but we have also asked for help to lighten the burden on us. I don't consider any of this to be mooching.

    With all of that being said, I have seen Ms who live lavish lifestyles in 3rd world countries asking for support all the time, and the most they are doing in country is giving someone a drink of clean water. They go home multiple times a year on other people's dimes, and they spend way too much where they are working.

    Do Ms mooch? Many do, there is no doubt of that. How can we stop it? If an M is a member of a local church, that local church should get behind them fully spiritually and financially. If an M is not part of a local church, like myself, then I think it's ok to periodically ask for money, but don't expect it and don't guilt people for it. If you listen to God's call and you GO, then you should be ready to provide for your family even if you don't receive a dime in support. Another way for an M to avoid mooching, is to not join an organization that charges an arm and a leg in membership fees. I am not totally against M agencies, but many charge $10,000/year just to be a part of it.

    That's my experience; take it for what it's worth.

    Blessings,

    ~Keith Tacey
    Thanks for the story.

    A clarification on "membership fees" - I know of no missionary orgs that charge a "membership fee" but what is being charged is an admin fee which pays for the org's accountant and for advertizements and publications and the smooth running of a home office (which is, hopefully, very simple). Most of the time, these expenses are well worth it (especially the accountants, since I would not want to file all that paperwork with the IRS myself and know very little of accounting). Also, health and life insurance benefits are often part of this admin fee, which usually ranges from 10-20% of a missionary's gathered funds.

    There are times when I have resented this fee, but I also profit from my org's publications and their insurance saved our bacons two years ago when Teresa had to be medivac'd twice in a 8-month period due to severe tropical fever and then miscarriage requiring emergency surgery.

    I have also seen varying levels of work-ethic among missionaries on the field. I have found in some cases, later, that much of their work was low-key discipling or literature-production for locals (easily done at home behind doors).

    About lavish lifestyles: In some parts of the world even having a shower and a toilet is lavish. I live a lavish lifestyle by comparison to the locals here.

    Finally, you are not part of a local church? How does that work? I am sure many churches would want a connection with your work.


    p.s. I would love to hear more of your work there. I have friends in Cambodia who are trying to reach out to displaced Vietnamese populations on the coast.
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
    -- David Livingstone

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    To follow up on my post, Pergamum, I was in contact with him. I explained my concern about his methods. This was at a time when I was in a 5 point non-confessional congregation. I didn't like the methodology and his enthusiasm about getting people to say the sinners prayer either. I was becoming more Reformed and he was leaning more towards operating like an Arminian Baptist.
    Rich Koster
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    1 member(s) found this post helpful.

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    Zach is offline. Puritanboard Junior
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    Quote Originally Posted by elnwood View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pilgrim View Post
    There may be others, but the only denominational missionaries I know of who are fully funded by the denomination are those sent by the SBC and OPC.
    FYI, the Christian and Missionary Alliance also fully supports their missionaries.
    As someone who has a considerable amount of interaction with the CMA through my Campus Ministry, it has its advantages and disadvantages. The CMA is very good at putting missionaries in the field, but is very broad theologically. The missionaries also will take time out of the field every few years to come home and "do the rounds" to encourage people to give to the Great Commission Fund. The "one big pot" approach allows for a considerable amount of missionaries to be sent out, but I really only know the missionaries that I (or people I am close with) have done short term trips with in the past. But, many are doing wonderful work on behalf of the gospel and as long as the gospel is being preached it doesn't matter if I know who is preaching it.
    Zach
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    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I know several couples here who are chronically under-supported and sometimes they live very, very plainly during those stretches.
    Yes, that is what I was thinking of, along with extra hardships, which should be considered in any discussion of missionaries mooching.
    I think that in support-raising something like this already sort of happens. I find that though I am younger and less knowledgeable than some, by virtue of the remoteness of my area (it makes for good pictures) I have an easier time raising suppport, whereas some urban missionaries discipling key leaders in a nice office often have more strategic but less photogenic duties and thus have a harder time raising support.
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
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    Keith Tacey is offline. Puritanboard Freshman
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    "Finally, you are not part of a local church? How does that work? I am sure many churches would want a connection with your work."

    Thanks for asking. I will try to make a long story somewhat short.

    I put my faith in Christ 6 years ago while in university. At that time, I was not attending any church, but I was involved in a Christian organization that had a program every Tuesday night on campus.

    Being a young Christian, I simply attended my girlfriend's church for 2 years, but they never mentioned the need to become a member, so I was just a regular attender that was only starting to get heavily involved in the church. I left this church as it was Pentecostal and I was seeing opposing truths in the Word of God.

    After continuing to attend a bible study on campus, and attending a local seeker sensitive church (which I would learn later was a complete waste of time), I realized that God was calling me to missions. I immediately got connected with a friend of a friend who had a school in Vietnam, and I moved there 3 weeks after graduating from university to work as a teacher and as an M. As far as the M work, I teach a Free English class every week where we pray and the Truth is boldly and frequently proclaimed.

    I have been here since early 2009 and I got married in April 2011. My wife (from Hanoi) is a nurse. She goes to the highlands to do medical trips, and also holistic development, with an emphasis on Evangelism, Discipleship, and training.

    Through personal study and discussion on sites like "Puritanboard" and Facebook groups, I have come to the understanding that what I now believe, by the grace of God, can best be categorized as "Reformed Baptist."

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it...
    Keith Tacey
    Hanoi, Vietnam
    Reformed Baptist/LBC 1689

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    My own amount that I gather is divided into two; (1) personal funds and (2) ministry funds.

    The minimum amount set by me and the agency together totals more than 4k per month. This would seem like an absurd amount were it all spent on personal funds. However, half of the raised funds are used for ministry needs (eg., I think I spent over 10,000 USD on medicines, surgeries, medivac flights for sick evangelists, bibles and ministry materials for poor evangelists).

    In one year's time I gathered about 80,000 USD, but my own personal funds still remained the same (W-2 has read 27.5k, 28k and we might break the 30k mark this year with baby, who let's us raise our amount a bit. However, supporters send me free books, gifts, etc, that - if their real value were counted - would be worth another thousand or so per year).

    So, this all gets a little embarrassing when supporters ask how much I have gathered in the last 12 months, etc.
    First, if anyone thinks you are a moocher I am happy to talk to them and tell them that you are very disciplined and generous.
    In remote areas where you are compensating for a lack of infrastructure, of course there is a need for an expense account. A missionary to Liechtenstein probably doesn’t have to do very much at all in the way of diaconal assistance. Given the kind of work you’re engaged in, I’m glad you have a relatively healthy expense account.
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    a mere housewife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I know several couples here who are chronically under-supported and sometimes they live very, very plainly during those stretches.
    Yes, that is what I was thinking of, along with extra hardships, which should be considered in any discussion of missionaries mooching.
    I think that in support-raising something like this already sort of happens. I find that though I am younger and less knowledgeable than some, by virtue of the remoteness of my area (it makes for good pictures) I have an easier time raising suppport, whereas some urban missionaries discipling key leaders in a nice office often have more strategic but less photogenic duties and thus have a harder time raising support.
    Pergs, I am glad to hear that the hardships get extra consideration and that people facing those do not often have to face the undersupportedness as well. However, to take an example of a missionary who faces a lot of hardships and yet still does not seem to have the same financial ease as the rest of us -- recently while on a sort of 'break' in a place that should have been more restful, the family had to stay in a place with a leaky roof and other water supply issues while the wife was recovering from giving birth and adjusting to the new little one. Many of us would have simply found a better hotel.

    Also, I wonder what happens in a situation of undersupportedness where one does not have spectacular images -- does the missionary simply pray and wait (as my parents did) until someone inquires, while watching their family go without things that may be critical to their well being? Or do they ask, at the risk of seeming like 'moochers'?

    I've had occasion to think a lot about this. :-) I used to wonder why missionaries will often have nicer homes and vehicles than many people they are working with, and at times, than many people I know in the states. After being around more missionaries I understand that in general their homes and cars are used with so much more hospitality, or in more critical conditions, and simply *so much more*, than many American homes/vehicles. Again I used to wonder at high amounts of support requested for poverty stricken areas until I realised that logistics in such areas require more expensive equipment and services; and that much more is being given charitably. I wondered why missionaries on furlough would eat out so much, or get more convenient and slightly higher priced items -- until I had some insight into what it is to try to live with small children out of a suitcase (my mom told me about her experiences, and I've lived in hotels myself for a bit). So it's hard for me to know where to offer points of criticism. I think a man is usually trying to balance being willing to suffer for the sake of gospel with trying to be a good provider for his wife and family -- how much does he ask of them? And it is often the wife and family, at least in circles where wife and family are not directly involved in ministry themselves -- who give up most in the way of being isolated and just enduring whatever there is to endure. While they don't carry the major strain or stress of the labor, there is often a lot of added labor to a wife's calling; and she doesn't have the 'rewardingness' of the man's vocation, nor the normal enjoyments or comforts the man's vocation would provide for her and her children at home. So many things we see as unnecessary indulgences for a missionary are probably something a man is trying to do to offset the impact of this on his family, so that they can stay on the field for a longer term.

    The two criticisms I have (and they may be of ignorance still) are 1) I think the idea of trying to lead an essentially American life in another country is an unwise use of funds. I think missionaries should be well enough supplied that their children are able to enjoy advantages of the places where they are; but trying to give them all the same experiences and the same home atmosphere as kids in the states is probably only going to make life on the field more frustrating and needlessly expensive. And 2) I think missionaries who have significantly easier lifestyles than those around them should be careful of resentment in being called on to use/share that niceness with those they are ministering to. I well understand that to some degree things like toilets etc in poverty stricken places are just to facilitate things being more manageable for a homemaker who is coping with much more daily inconvenience than she would at home. But where things are sometimes nicer than what many supporters have in the states as well, it seems like hospitality -- and not just to mission teams but to local people -- should be the end in view. Happily, the most hospitable and generous people I have known have generally been missionaries.
    Heidi
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    Quote Originally Posted by py3ak View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    My own amount that I gather is divided into two; (1) personal funds and (2) ministry funds.

    The minimum amount set by me and the agency together totals more than 4k per month. This would seem like an absurd amount were it all spent on personal funds. However, half of the raised funds are used for ministry needs (eg., I think I spent over 10,000 USD on medicines, surgeries, medivac flights for sick evangelists, bibles and ministry materials for poor evangelists).

    In one year's time I gathered about 80,000 USD, but my own personal funds still remained the same (W-2 has read 27.5k, 28k and we might break the 30k mark this year with baby, who let's us raise our amount a bit. However, supporters send me free books, gifts, etc, that - if their real value were counted - would be worth another thousand or so per year).

    So, this all gets a little embarrassing when supporters ask how much I have gathered in the last 12 months, etc.
    First, if anyone thinks you are a moocher I am happy to talk to them and tell them that you are very disciplined and generous.
    In remote areas where you are compensating for a lack of infrastructure, of course there is a need for an expense account. A missionary to Liechtenstein probably doesn’t have to do very much at all in the way of diaconal assistance. Given the kind of work you’re engaged in, I’m glad you have a relatively healthy expense account.
    A missionary to Liechtenstein......hmmm......a wine, cheese and chocolate fund is necessary me thinks (to fit in with the locals of course).....

    ---------- Post added at 03:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:53 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by a mere housewife View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    I know several couples here who are chronically under-supported and sometimes they live very, very plainly during those stretches.
    Yes, that is what I was thinking of, along with extra hardships, which should be considered in any discussion of missionaries mooching.
    I think that in support-raising something like this already sort of happens. I find that though I am younger and less knowledgeable than some, by virtue of the remoteness of my area (it makes for good pictures) I have an easier time raising suppport, whereas some urban missionaries discipling key leaders in a nice office often have more strategic but less photogenic duties and thus have a harder time raising support.
    Pergs, I am glad to hear that the hardships get extra consideration and that people facing those do not often have to face the undersupportedness as well. However, to take an example of a missionary who faces a lot of hardships and yet still does not seem to have the same financial ease as the rest of us -- recently while on a sort of 'break' in a place that should have been more restful, the family had to stay in a place with a leaky roof and other water supply issues while the wife was recovering from giving birth and adjusting to the new little one. Many of us would have simply found a better hotel.

    Also, I wonder what happens in a situation of undersupportedness where one does not have spectacular images -- does the missionary simply pray and wait (as my parents did) until someone inquires, while watching their family go without things that may be critical to their well being? Or do they ask, at the risk of seeming like 'moochers'?

    I've had occasion to think a lot about this. :-) I used to wonder why missionaries will often have nicer homes and vehicles than many people they are working with, and at times, than many people I know in the states. After being around more missionaries I understand that in general their homes and cars are used with so much more hospitality, or in more critical conditions, and simply *so much more*, than many American homes/vehicles. Again I used to wonder at high amounts of support requested for poverty stricken areas until I realised that logistics in such areas require more expensive equipment and services; and that much more is being given charitably. I wondered why missionaries on furlough would eat out so much, or get more convenient and slightly higher priced items -- until I had some insight into what it is to try to live with small children out of a suitcase (my mom told me about her experiences, and I've lived in hotels myself for a bit). So it's hard for me to know where to offer points of criticism. I think a man is usually trying to balance being willing to suffer for the sake of gospel with trying to be a good provider for his wife and family -- how much does he ask of them? And it is often the wife and family, at least in circles where wife and family are not directly involved in ministry themselves -- who give up most in the way of being isolated and just enduring whatever there is to endure. While they don't carry the major strain or stress of the labor, there is often a lot of added labor to a wife's calling; and she doesn't have the 'rewardingness' of the man's vocation, nor the normal enjoyments or comforts the man's vocation would provide for her and her children at home. So many things we see as unnecessary indulgences for a missionary are probably something a man is trying to do to offset the impact of this on his family, so that they can stay on the field for a longer term.

    The two criticisms I have (and they may be of ignorance still) are 1) I think the idea of trying to lead an essentially American life in another country is an unwise use of funds. I think missionaries should be well enough supplied that their children are able to enjoy advantages of the places where they are; but trying to give them all the same experiences and the same home atmosphere as kids in the states is probably only going to make life on the field more frustrating and needlessly expensive. And 2) I think missionaries who have significantly easier lifestyles than those around them should be careful of resentment in being called on to use/share that niceness with those they are ministering to. I well understand that to some degree things like toilets etc in poverty stricken places are just to facilitate things being more manageable for a homemaker who is coping with much more daily inconvenience than she would at home. But where things are sometimes nicer than what many supporters have in the states as well, it seems like hospitality -- and not just to mission teams but to local people -- should be the end in view. Happily, the most hospitable and generous people I have known have generally been missionaries.

    You asked,
    Also, I wonder what happens in a situation of undersupportedness where one does not have spectacular images -- does the missionary simply pray and wait (as my parents did) until someone inquires, while watching their family go without things that may be critical to their well being? Or do they ask, at the risk of seeming like 'moochers'?
    Yes, all of the above and also (D) they get stressed and eventually go home due to the cumulative effect of this stress. Chronic under-support leads ot many family problems and marital conflict. It is one of the main reasons for missionaries going home ("Too Valuable to Lose' and "Worth Keeping" are two studies of missionary attrition done on 23,000 people in order to gather the reasons missionaries leave the field).

    Money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy comfort and an ease of stress many times. I believe like any other muscle we have a "comfort muscle" and a stress and hospitality muscle, too. We can slowly build it, but sometimes we clean and jerk too much and need some rest, or we get flabby and hurt ourselves. The definition of "normal" (and also "clean and hygienic") can change after a while but many misionaries struggle for YEARS with certain aspects of the culture. A little cushion can buy a burned-out family a weekend away or somethign Western to eat or something nice reminding them of home.


    You also commented:


    I wondered why missionaries on furlough would eat out so much, or get more convenient and slightly higher priced items
    I once bought a box of Fruity Pebbles for 7 USD during an intense time of stress. I broke it out at night and WOW, it was worth every penny. Also, just a few weeks ago I was on another island and has access to better goods and we actually mailed a little bit of that here.



    You also said of many missionaries that they were:


    ...trying to lead an essentially American life in another country is an unwise use of funds
    I would claim that most are not "trying" to do this; but, rather, they are living a Western life simply because they are western and these things are hard to change.

    We carry our culture around with us. We speak English most of the time in our hom unless we are eating with local guests (which, is a common feature in our home, such that our children have picked up the language pretty good).

    We try to fit in, but we often need breaks from this. During pig roasts I often try not to eat much so I can go home and eat something that I really like instead of slimy pig cooked in a burnt hole in the ground (with a real smoky taste and lots of hair still on it). I never want to see another pig in my life.

    Every couple has a different capacity to stretch and adapt. This is why I think it is essential that missionaries get cross-cultural training pre-field. Good theology is essential, but not enough. There needs to be a good pre-field program and on-field mentorin so that this "cross-cultural muscle" can build without straining. Several very astute theologians I know did very poorly adapting to local cultures due to a certain rigidity they had in them that inhibited their ability to exchange some of their western ways for local ways. I have done better than some, but have regressed of late due to burn-out, which brings out negativity in thinking towards the local culture and brings out a desire NOT to adapt but to reject and criticize the local culture. Here lately I can find 10 bad things about the local people to every 1 admirable trait here and I have been repenting of this.
    Pergamum


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    Pergy, I should make it quite clear that I wasn't thinking at all of you when I said that about living as Americans (in fact, I should probably clarify that my comments on this thread haven't been directed to anything but the original question: because Ruben and I were both mk's, and because Ruben served as an interim missionary after we were married, I have thought about this a lot). I think of you and your wife as one of the better examples of not expecting your kids to lead normal American lives (I still remember a lot of things your wife said to me when you were here). I understand that we can't alter the way we were formed. But there are those things we simply can't change, those things we might be able to but they are a matter of trying to preserve some sanity and enough basic comfort to last as long as possible in a difficult place; and things that are *designed* to make us and our children feel like we/they are leading normal American lives (such as, all the kids in our home church in the states are wearing uniforms to school; my child will wear uniforms to homeschool), and it is the latter I still have doubts about. It probably exists more in a number of small than large expenses, but the net result may be someone who isn't for instance, as content as your wife is for your son to be out catching reptilian creatures instead of attending a summer sports camp; and that seems like making things harder for oneself in several ways (the financial aspect of which may be the least). Again, I've never had kids on the mission field, or tried to make that adaptation, hence I am unwilling to be too hard and fast in that opinion.

    I do understand that one of the terribly difficult things missionaries face is from those at home -- who have no idea what the impact of a number of daily hardships/sacrifices may be - making snap judgments only on the basis of what is visible to them. Feeling 'judged' by Christians at home on top of the difficulties of the field itself is crushing (perhaps only because I am a woman and can only speak as one, I think it must be especially so for a woman); and is one reason why I qualify things I wonder about in various circumstances, not simply 'out loud' but in my heart, with my own ignorance.
    Heidi
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    Heidi,

    No probs. I am just trying to check myself, check my motives, check how I come across to others, check how I communicate, and make sure I am not being a total doofus when it comes to interacting with those that often work 50-hour weeks at less-than-rewarding jobs at a time of decline in the US economy so that I can do what I love here.

    -
    Yes, being a travelling missionary on furlough can be stressful: I remember being on the road for weeks. For the sake of "hospitality" we have had US families put us up on their couches in the middle of their home (no privacy at all....and host family members you just met get up and rummage through the fridge for a midnight snack in their pajamas while I am sleeping on the floor..or pretending too anyway), have been sick with colds travelling when families have insisted on having us stay over (when we craved solitude), have driven 8 hours between churches and unloaded our kids into a night church service where the kids were expected to sit still (they believed in even small children sitting through all services, no exception) after all day in a car after a morning church service in a town 300 miles away (I opted to let Noah go climb the oak tree out back while I preached....I think I offended a little blue haired lady by this). We have had our share of laundry pile up, too, and have had families "insist" that they help (not knowing what they were getting into...note well, Ben). We have also been very blessed, and helped as well. But, it can be wearing and many folks in the US truly do not understand the toll (especially the toting of the children around). Most missionaries I know truly want to bless and maximize their time with both the local people on the field and also with their supporters back home.

    ....What I am trying to say is that there is often a WIDE GAP between the missionaries' perception and the perceptions of their supporters or those that host them. Many things are done which could - if not done smoothly - needlessly offend or cause needless discomfort or prevent the missionary from doing what he feels is best and/or most restful for his family, etc. Since "beggers can't be choosers" the travelling missionary especially is put in some ackward positions.

    Concerning missionary mooches, I have seen examples where the missionary seemed a little too eager to ask things of others. I have also seen some exhausted missionaries feel so relieved at offers of help that they readily accept in an over-eager fashion (and are too tired to repeatedly gush thanks). During the first 3 weeks we were back on our last furlough, we felt like this, since Teresa was having some health problems. It was like we were living in a fog and was greatly aided by others guiding us and helping us.
    Pergamum


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    My mom speaks of those things, too.

    I can't imagine feeling anything other than blessed by that memory of being able to see you and the kids, and to be able to talk with your wife (who is just one of the most amazing women I have ever known). I'm always grateful for further insights into what it's like for exhausted/recuperating missionaries to whom we supporters at home wish to be helpful and hospitable. Those things are very good for supporting churches to have more awareness of.
    Heidi
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    Wow, thank you, Heidi. Your words are too kind. We were blessed to see you as well, sorry we were sort of out of it then.
    Pergamum


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    Well by definition they are all mooches because they borrow without repaying you back, however, they are investing in the kingdom of God. So take your pick I guess. Most missionaries are very giving and we are to support those families. For instance I work full time in a secular job, and I should donate to missions in support of their ministries, along with opening up my home when needed. I think people are ultimately selfish with their time and not so much their money, which makes me have a deep respect for most missionaries over seas. They endure horrible & dangerous conditions and leave the comforts of the United States to reach out to the lost in other parts of the world.

    However, I say most because I know a missionary family that is in Kenya and they have gotten to meet other Christian missionaries over the years. One very common thing that occurs with missionaries, that they told me, is that some will pocket money in excess for their retirement and 401k, since they do not have those types of benefits. I find this very appalling since that we do not retire from working for God. For the working man retirement should mean moving into a full time position with the church, not sitting on a beach soaking up the sun. It reminds me of a quote from John Piper's book, "Dont Waste your Life".

    It says, "I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.”

    At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.

    Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.”"
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertPGH1981 View Post
    One very common thing that occurs with missionaries, that they told me, is that some will pocket money in excess for their retirement and 401k, since they do not have those types of benefits. I find this very appalling since that we do not retire from working for God.
    Yet missionaries are as likely as anyone physically and mentally to decline to the point of being unable to engage in active work of any kind. Some provision must be made for their maintenance and expenses during the decline of their life: a decline that in our times is likely to be quite lengthy and staggeringly expensive. It’s all very well to say people shouldn’t retire, but when you can no longer preach, teach, or write, or at least can do so only at a very reduced rate, what exactly are you supposed to do?
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    Quote Originally Posted by py3ak View Post
    Yet missionaries are as likely as anyone physically and mentally to decline to the point of being unable to engage in active work of any kind. Some provision must be made for their maintenance and expenses during the decline of their life: a decline that in our times is likely to be quite lengthy and staggeringly expensive. It’s all very well to say people shouldn’t retire, but when you can no longer preach, teach, or write, or at least can do so only at a very reduced rate, what exactly are you supposed to do?
    I agree with what you just said, but they are taking money donated for their ministry and pocketing it. Technically speaking, the church should provide for them when they can no longer serve. My point was they were taking money that was intended for their ministry and putting some aside for themselves (even though it was not intended for that purpose).
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    However, I say most because I know a missionary family that is in Kenya and they have gotten to meet other Christian missionaries over the years. One very common thing that occurs with missionaries, that they told me, is that some will pocket money in excess for their retirement and 401k, since they do not have those types of benefits. I find this very appalling since that we do not retire from working for God. For the working man retirement should mean moving into a full time position with the church, not sitting on a beach soaking up the sun. It reminds me of a quote from John Piper's book, "Dont Waste your Life".
    You do know that a 401k has more purposes beyond funding a secular retirement, right?

    The 401k is simply a tax-deferred account to draw from when you are older. There is nothing in the law requiring it to be used for collecting shells on the beach.

    My point was they were taking money that was intended for their ministry and putting some aside for themselves (even though it was not intended for that purpose).
    When I give to a missionary, that's precisely my purpose. He's spending it on himself if he uses it to buy food now, or saves it to buy food when he's 75. Either way, he's using my money wisely.
    Jeremy
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    Quote Originally Posted by smhbbag View Post
    The 401k is simply a tax-deferred account to draw from when you are older. There is nothing in the law requiring it to be used for collecting shells on the beach.
    When people think of retirement that's typically what comes to mind. Taking away funds for personal necessity is one thing (food, clothes & shelter), but its something else when you are socking away money in a 401k for retirement when you are in a country full of people that are starving. I'm not just picking on the missionaries because we are all guilty of that. Think about the distribution of wealth in the United States compared to the world. Here is a quick example:

    World distribution of wealth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    If you don't want to look, according to Wikipedia the United States holds 32.65% of the wealth of the world. The average income of a family in the United States is around 30k a year. The average family income in the world is around 10k. However, this number is very misleading since the majority of the worlds population lives on dollars a day. So I ask, how can a family struggling to even eat in a different country retire? Is there such a thing as retirement for the majority of the worlds population? Are we showing lack of trust in God since he promises to provide for his children? Wouldn't these verses listed below also apply to retirement?

    Mat 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    Mat 6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
    Mat 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    Mat 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    Mat 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
    Mat 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
    Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
    Mat 6:34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
    Robert
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertPGH1981 View Post
    I agree with what you just said, but they are taking money donated for their ministry and pocketing it. Technically speaking, the church should provide for them when they can no longer serve. My point was they were taking money that was intended for their ministry and putting some aside for themselves (even though it was not intended for that purpose).
    So you’re saying the church should have a pension plan. That’s not a bad idea.
    I would suggest that if you don’t trust a missionary to make their own judgments about saving, that you simply support another with whom you feel more comfortable. But please don’t accuse them of misappropriating funds, or of raising funds under false pretenses. Most people understand that spending, saving, and giving, are all things that will happen to donated money.
    Ruben: Administrator
    NCCC-OP
    Steger, IL

    ...analogy does not mean identity. When we make a comparison we do not make an equation. -John Murray

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    Teología en Mexico
    The Howling Wilderness
    3 member(s) found this post helpful.

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