How Shall We Then Give?
I have wanted for some time to write about the tragic consequences of “uninformed giving” to missions, especially in the poorest countries on earth located in the 10/40 Window. In our generosity and compassion, we can inadvertently cause unimaginable chaos and pain.
We in the “fiscally unchallenged” house church movement sit on a powder keg of finances that are available to be released into the kingdom of God to penetrate into the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist worlds. The question is will be ready for the task?
My constant plea is that we “think-before- we-give” so as not to make the same old mistakes our “forefathers” did.
“Western money continues to make the national church dependent on the West. It creates a sense of rivalry, greed and competition. It often robs the national church of its natural potential. When the easy money from the West is available, very few want to explore indigenous ways of fund raising.” Atul Aghamkar
In a very real sense I believe that we are to “Think Globally and Give Locally”. This may sound like a heretical statement but I believe that if you use the New Testament (NT) as your standard (and not current Christian culture) I think you will see that this adage holds up under scrutiny.
Of course, there are times when the physical situation is so catastrophic that giving from far away is not only the right thing to do but also the best. Think back to the December Tsunami of 2004. In times of such overwhelming tragedies money most flow freely and quickly to save lives!
In the NT we see something similar in the churches that Paul planted: they gave money to meet needs of the “mother church” in back in Jerusalem because of the famine. This was a one-time deal it appears and not a steady practice – to give money to others from far away.
The main principle that Maria and I hold to is this:
“The best giving is done by those living closest to the need.“
A Christian humanitarian aid worker in Asia we know agrees: ”Most of the resources necessary to prevent, withstand, and recover from a disaster are to be found in the local community.”
We see this as the heartbeat of Jesus’ ministry with His disciples: “They do not need to go away: You give them something to eat!” (Mtt 14, Mk 6, Lu 9, Jn 6) The 12 went right out to see what they could find. Their report: 5 loaves and 2 fish (actually they belonged to a boy!). Not too impressive with 5000 hungry mouths!
But here is where we too err: hoping to provide through our own strength (financial might and sheer numbers) and not in the miracle working power of Jesus.
In actual fact, the disciples were quite slow to get the message of Jesus’ miraculous provision, as just a few days or weeks later they where faced with the task of feeding of the 4000: “Where will anyone be able to find enough to satisfy these men with bread here in a desolate place?”
They had forgotten WHO is the real provider!
Could it be that because we don’t bring the miraculous to the mission field we end up bring the money?
Could it be that we see people in the Third World as poor and not lost?
“Missions… is increasingly driven by a response to poverty rather than by an understanding of lostness.The American response, inbred by a pragmatic heritage, is to naively cast small doses of money to new converts to help and encourage: local preachers are quickly put on American salaries, service ministries created which can be maintained only by Western economic help, and Western-style training institutions developed.” Gailyn Van Rheenen (used by permission)
Apostolic Principles and Practices in Giving From the New Testament
1. Why do we give?
Equality – My abundance is to supply your need so that when I am in need your abundance will supply it 2 Cor. 8: 13-15
Share our material blessing with those who gave us a spiritual blessing. Rom 15:26-27
2. To whom do we give?
Poor and needy saints. Rom 15:26-27
Apostles 2 Cor 11:8-9
3. How much?
Generously. 2 Cor 9:6-11
According to what one has, not according to what does not have. 2 Cor 8:12
“Silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give unto you: Walk!” Acts 3
Take nothing for your journey. Mk 6
Locals should provide. Lu 10:7
Yours for the least in the kingdom,
PS. For further reading on dependency I highly recommend World Mission Associates.