Leverage Your Lack of Resources
I was recently at a conference where a pastor from Africa was talking about their church planting efforts in gateway cities around the world. Cities like London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beunos Aires, and New York City. It was intriguing that he said the reason they could do this was because of their poverty. In the West, money is one of the first things we think of when we talk about missions. For this African, the lack of finances was a positive thing. It shaped their vision and strategy.
He went on to explain why poverty helped them participate in worldwide missions. Because of poverty, many Africans have already re-located all over the world. There are Africans in all the major cities of the world seeking a better life. So they already have people in place. When they arrive they fly under the radar because locals assume they are there to do menial work… which they are willing to do. They will clean toilets. Americans won’t. They have an anonymity that Americans don’t have. He went on to say that most places around the world are a step up for them, so it is not a sacrifice to live in another part of the world. So instead of their poverty being a liability, they have turned it into a strength.
You have to love African ingenuity. We Americans have a lot to learn from them. While many of our churches would view lack of funds a reason to limit our missionary outreach, perhaps we could follow the lead of Africans and find the positive side to the lack of funds. Some churches have already done this by sending out tentmakers who earn their own living on the mission field. Even though they can’t support another missionary, there are professionals in the congregation that are sent to different parts of the world as self-supporting missionaries. Until the past couple hundred years, most of missions was done this way. It has been our affluence that changed the paradigm such that we put a lid on on capacity because of money. That is just one way to leverage lack of resources to increase the numbers of missionaries.
This African pastor went on to say that they do not send their young people to the States to train for missions. He said that we will make them “soft.” The quality of lifestyle and food in our colleges will spoil them for suffering and being destitute. So while we may be abundance as a blessing, we might want to consider the negative impact of money on missions.
Missions does not have an escape clause if we don’t have the finances. Jesus just said go do it. If your church has the money, great. If not, figure out what you can do to leverage your lack of resources. Get creative.
Paul Seger, BMW