We were still in our first house, half the size of the one we’re in now. Our kids, eight and eleven, watching us, to see what Christianity was. And I didn’t want them seeing simply lifeless pews, half-hearted, stagnant views. Dead religion as a substitute for a Living God. So, we said “yes” when friends asked us to go to Guatemala with them, to do children’s ministry, stay at an orphanage, and help them disperse wheelchairs with their non-profit organization. Time to “go into all the world….” Or so, I thought.
The problem? The cost. We only had a little over six-hundred dollars in savings, which took years to accumulate. The thought of going seemed ridiculous, yet we said “yes” anyway. We fundraised. Collected shoes, clothes, and supplies requested by the orphanage we are staying at.
We trusted God. But as the day to pay for the plane tickets drew near, it was hard to think how we could come up with the $650.00 immediately. All our options, tapped empty.
Hadn’t we sent the letters? Hadn’t we agreed to where He wanted to send us? Had we heard wrong……
Statistics vary, but many sources agree giving to international missions is down to between 1 and 2 percent. Christianity Today shows that between 2008-2009, International Missions giving was at 5.8%. However, giving dropped to less than 1.9% in 2009-2010. Short term missions giving on the other hand, was up from less than 4.3% in 2008-2009 to 13.4%, between 2009-2010.
So, why are people hesitant to give to international missions? I took a little poll, asking this question on my blog. Possible answers included:
* Missions doesn't seem relevant.
* I don’t have the money to give.
* I don’t trust the organization that I would be giving to.
* I am called to “go,” not send others.
* Other reasons.
Virtually everyone answered, “I don’t trust the organization that I would be giving to.”
Have we lost trust in giving to major organizations and trust our next door neighbor, or the teenager spending a few weeks in Mexico, more? And yet, many will “go” if people are willing to send them.
The day our $650.00 was due, my husband laced his shoes, leaving to clear out all we had in savings. As he did, a knock came to the door. It was a relative who handed us a check for $1000.00.
And isn't that just like God? To not give barely, but over and above what we had wanted? To wait until that eleventh hour to see if we would trust Him? Testing our hearts to see if we would offer Him not part, but everything we had clung to?
Ten years later and I am on my way to China in a matter of days. In the process of helping a non-profit advocate for kids from that country. And I still stand believing: often the “yes” is required prior to us seeing all the answers.
And although money isn't that tight, I step out in faith and say, “send me.” And as I write this, a message gets sent to my Facebook, “Could you use a check for some money, I am giving extra this time to missions and I thought of you?”
Yes, there is still hope. And as you “go” God will provide for you. Because people still want to give to missions. They just don’t know who to trust.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented twelve children; ten foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world so desperate for the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women's. Jen continues to cling to faith that the local church is God's vehicle to reach the nations. You can find Jen writing about faith and challenging her readers at her blog,Rich Faith Rising. As well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Also, on facebook.
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Olson, Ted; Christianity Today, “Go Figure: Recent stats on health, giving, and church life.” 1/24/12 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/january/gofigure-jan12.html