Missionary Support

How to support a missionary

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Missionary Support

Missionary SupportDonors who support missionary organizations want their money to reach frontline missionaries, not used to build a new headquarters building in USA or kept as commission by the fundraisers who called them, while donors who directly support missionaries want them to do missionary work, not just live abroad. Here are 10 questions to qualify the missionary organizations and the missionaries who seek your support.

1.  "What was last year's compensation (salary + benefits) for each of the five highest paid officers of your organization?"

How much the missionary organization's leaders take from the donations collected signals whether they serve persecuted Christians and missionaries or use them to make money. In 2019, for example, the four "Chief" officers of Open Doors USA paid themselves just under $1 million collectively from the donations given to help the world's most persecuted Christians. But they at least published their salaries. Most missionary organizations do not; the more unconscionable their leaders' salaries, the more tightly they are kept in secret. Callers who reply that the salary information is unavailable can call back when it becomes available.

2.  "Will you be paid a commission on the amount I donate?"

The harder a fundraiser presses you, the more likely it is that he will be paid a commission on the amount you give. If he answers "No," ask him, "God struck dead Ananias and Sapphira for lying and keeping back a portion of their own money intended for God's work; what do you think God will do people who lie and keep a portion of other people's money given for God's work?" If he gets upset and repeats that he isn't getting a commission on the amount you give, tell him to then act like that is the case. If he answers "Yes" to the original question, ask him if he is disclosing that to everyone from whom he solicits money and what he thinks about lying by omission.

3.  Do the reported numbers match?

Compare the numbers in the newsletters and the annual reports posted on the websites of the missionary organizations. While their annual reports tend to be notoriously vague, exaggerating statistics has become so common that inconsistencies are not hard to spot. For example, Wycliffe Associates reported spending $197 million on Bible translation from 2015 to 2020 and completing 424 translations at a cost of $19,500 each during that period. 424 x $19,500 = $8.3 million, which leaves 95% of the $197 million unaccounted.

4.  Am I supporting a missionary, a humanitarian, or an expatriate?

A missionary shares the Gospel. A "missionary" who cares for the sick, the orphaned, the poor, etc., but does not share the Gospel with the unsaved and leaves them hell-bound is a humanitarian, not a missionary, while a Christian who lives abroad, earns a living, and attends an expat church is an expatriate, neither a humanitarian nor a missionary. There is nothing wrong with supporting a humanitarian or a family member living abroad, but if your intent is to support a missionary, be sure to support someone who shares the Gospel.

5.  What is the thrust of the missionary's newsletters and presentations?

They should be progress reports on what is being done to expand God's kingdom. Those that focus on culturally interesting and exotic stories and photos, news of the missionary's children, even heart-tugging stories of some of the local believers are signs that the missionary may not be doing much missionary work (anymore). Meanwhile, newsletters that are consistently so chock-full of missionary activities that you wonder how one person can do all of them may contain exaggerations, while newsletters that report one financial urgency after another and constantly beg for money signal exaggerations, lack of faith in God, and a focus on fundraising rather than doing missionary work.

6.  "What is a typical week like for you? ... What is that day like?"

For many "missionaries," "missionary work" means leading a weekly Bible study for other missionaries, or a monthly photo op at a village with exotic visuals to show to donors. First ask about their typical week, then about the day(s) on which they say they do their missionary work, and deduce how much time is being spent actually sharing the Gospel.

7.  "What is an annual budget that will cover both your household needs and missionary work? ... How is that budget being met today?"

Get an idea of how much of your support will go to missionary work and how much to household needs, including children's education. Also learn if the missionary or the spouse is working part time, involved in a business venture on the side, or has passive income.

8.  "What benefits do you tell the locals they will get if they become a Christian?"

If the missionary is sharing the health and wealth "prosperity gospel," charismania, the Four Spiritual Laws, or some other heresy instead of the true Gospel, supporting him or her will do more harm than good.

9.  What fruit is God bearing through the missionary?

For how many years has the missionary been in the field, how many churches of what average weekly attendance have been planted in those years, and are they able to support their own pastor? Since poor countries have a correspondingly low cost of living, a planted church of 150 or more members that is said to be still unable to support their indigenous pastor could signal a church of "rice Christians" who attend to receive materialistic handouts (see Missionary men).

10.  What does a visit reveal?

During a trip to the region, go unannounced to a service at a church the missionary planted, arrive just as the service starts, sit in the back, hear what is being preached, see if the attendees are attentive, and introduce yourself to the missionary, if possible, at the end of the service. Missionaries who have nothing to hide will welcome you warmly. The rest tense up. Sometimes, there is no service or even a church.