AMERICAN MONEY IN FOREIGN EVANGELISM

The use of American money in connection with evangelism in third-world countries does far more than the more-wealthy and kind-hearted American Christian might realize. In fact, most of the problems that occur in connection with foreign evangelism can be traced to American money that has unintentionally (but irreversibly) corrupted people and their motives. Consider the following warning given by Paul Earnhart as he addressed a specific situation regarding early-stage evangelistic decisions in an African country.
- Phil Morgan

“If permanent support is arranged [for indigenous Christians who want to preach in their third-world country] who are no doubt worthy, it must be understood that what will be established is a permanent institution of American support for anyone who proposes to preach. . . . It has been my understanding that we did not want to build the kingdom of the Lord on American money and create a dependent church which believes that they can do nothing without it. I notice that the mention of [financial] help for [these men who want to preach] has brought a long list of requests for a table, chairs, bed, iron, cell phones, et. al. with no suggestion of the willingness of brethren there to help with these needs. You can see the pattern that can so easily develop and which will not be easily checked. I know that it would be easy for us to provide these things, and that in their limited ability, difficult for them. But that is not the point. By this approach you can create a dependent and weak church with American brethren and American money rather than the Lord as its center. I experienced this pattern in Nigeria and would hate to see it repeated. . . . We need to give our brethren there a chance to do something on their own and to learn by that experience what they can do and what the gospel alone can achieve. . . . My judgment in these matters is my judgment only and subject to review by others who may have seen some things I have not seen.”

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Crumbling Walls and Opening Doors

The beginning of the 1990’s brought many great changes to the world – and presented many evangelistic opportunities to Christians. Sewell Hall wrote an article (Christianity Magazine, January 1990) surveying these changes. He concluded with some ideas about how Christians and churches could respond. Here is part of what he wrote:

“We are on the very verge of being called upon to put our money, our sons, and our own lives where our mouths have been.
Sacrifices will have to be made. Large congregations will need to forego expenditures for luxuries and conveniences and for anything else that does not contribute directly to saving or edifying souls. Congregations in small communities where the gospel has been preached for years and where prospects for evangelism are admittedly limited may have to do without a “full-time preacher” supported from outside so that men and funds may be made available to send the gospel where it has not gone. Preachers of ability who could be preaching for strong churches will have to forget worldly standards of success and natural concern for security and go where they are most needed, regardless of hardships. Parents will have to see their sons and daughters leave the shadow of their homes and go away, sometimes even with grandchildren, to be gone for years at a time. And all of us will have to cut back on our own standard of living in order to give more liberally to supply the financial needs of those who go.
Is this too much to ask? If the cold war had heated up to become a military conflict, would not our entire nation have made such sacrifices in order to destroy the cities and kill the citizens of those very nations? Would not those who volunteered for service be counted heroes and their parents be proud to see their sons and daughters giving themselves for so great a cause? Are we less willing to sacrifice to save the souls of men than to kill and maim them? Is the cause of Christ less worthy than the cause of patriotism?”

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BUT I’M NOT RICH

1. Take out all of the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of
    chairs. Use blankets and pads for beds.
2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or
    blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
3. Empty the pantry and refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and
    salt, a few potatoes, some onions and a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathrooms, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical
    wiring in your house.
5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Place your “house” in shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no
    great loss, because none of you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance
    policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
10. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a mid-wife in charge
      instead of a doctor.
11. Give the head of the familly a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a
      few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which1/3 will go to the landlord and 1/10
      to the money lenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five years of your life expectancy.

This is how most of the rest of the world lives.
- Robert Heilbroner
     May the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be glorified!
              2 Thessalonians 3:1

We want to use this space to perfect in us the same vision for the gospel to go into the entire world that burned within the heart of our Savior.


    Foreign Evangelism