‘All donors have agendas’

missions“All donors have agendas,” writes Patrick Brennan. And so they do. No one gives money without seeking some return, some benefit, some recompense. It may come in the form of mere satisfaction at helping another, with no strings attached. Or the donor may seek influence, power, manipulation. And who hasn’t bought something just to get rid of the seller, the return being the restoration of peace?

Beyond the small amounts and the small returns, donors usually seek to further their own vision of how the world should work. And how the recipient ought to work. This principle is true of churches as well.

Some churches have the Lord’s agenda of teaching the gospel of truth to the lost. But sometimes that agenda is soft, subject to budgets, elder or preacher projects, or majority wishes. Even then, mission funds can serve to assuage guilty consciences or be a badge of a successful church worn on the front page of the weekly bulletin.

Then again, more and more churches with businessmen for elders are looking for more bang for the buck, more baptisms per dollar. You dunk the natives, and they’ll plunk down the bills. Not a few mercenaries play that game with the calculating churches.

Some missionaries, in a rush to the field and in a crunch for funds, accept support from progressive churches, thinking that their money won’t talk or make demands. But if anyone has an agenda, it is progressives.

Some years back, one missionary wife confessed that she and her husband were concerned that their new sponsoring church was more liberal in some areas than they were. She didn’t know how they were going to deal with that.

They dealt with it by allowing liberal doctrine to influence them, so that today their congregation is the most liberal in the country and pushing progressive ideas among the churches. How liberal? Recently, people were dancing in the aisles during the Lord’s supper.

All donors have agendas. So they contribute to support-seekers, drop others along the way, until their funds find the field and the personnel that matches their vision.

The challenge in all this is for churches and missionaries who have Jesus as Lord of the mission to find each other.

For the greatest Donor of all has his agenda, too: the salvation of the world and eternal life for all, through the proclamation of the gospel of God.

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#christian-mission, #great-commission, #missionary, #missions-support

Technology Makes the World Smaller

Michael Brooks’ article this morning at Forthright coalesced nicely with what was on my mind. Michael wrote about his travels to Asia for mission trips.

He wrote:

It is more than 10,000 miles by air from my home in Alabama to South Asia, to where I have traveled this past week. There is twelve hours difference (twelve time zones) between Alabama time and Bangladesh time. In other words they are exactly on opposite sides of the earth.

Jet lag is a concept with which I am very familiar. After flying for about 26 hours of actual time in the air over an elapsed total time of 36 to 42 hours on average, I am always tired and physically confused. My mind may say “It is morning, let’s get to work.” My body however responds, “I am tired; it is time to sleep.”


I remember my second trip home from New Zealand. We left Wellington at 3:00 PM on Friday afternoon. We landed in Memphis on Friday night at 9:00 PM. That was such a strange experience! You fly around the world and it is actually only a few hours later because of the international date line.

Of course, it may have only been six hours later, in one respect, to my body it seemed to be several days. I was exhausted.

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#forthright, #missionary, #missions, #technology, #travel

A Missionary Perspective on Burning Qurans

Mike Brooks is a missionary in a Muslim country. He shares his perspective on the plans that people in the United States have to burn Qurans. He writes that we should offer the gospel and love, rather than bombs and fires. Read his excellent thoughts.

#burning-the-quran, #forthright, #missionary

Preaching News

Our VBS begins tomorrow. We are using the Lambert system. They have five lessons and we have four nights. So, I preach the adult lesson that will not be covered on the Sunday morning prior to the beginning of VBS. This year it was Honesty.

I have joined SlideShare and I am adding PowerPoint sermons to my blog. I hope you find them edifying.

Tonight, we have a rare treat. Todd O’ Donnell, missionary in New Zealand, is visiting American congregations that have supported him in his work. He and his family will be here tonight. I have known Todd’s brother and sister-in-law for seventeen years and I have met his parents. It will be a joy to finally meet Todd and his family. I’m excited about tonight.

Praying for Randal’s safe return home.

#missionary, #new-zealand, #powerpoint, #preaching, #sermons

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #44 – Paraguay just celebrated her 199th anniversary of independence from Spain. Their were celebrations, parades, and festivities all throughout the capital city of Asunción. Even many foreign dignitaries flew into the country just to participate in the events. Everywhere one might look there were patriotic colors, flags, and emblems proudly displayed in order to support the national holiday. Almost everyone was wearing some sort of pin, shirt, or hat that exhibited their national pride. Oh what a sight to behold … and it wasn’t even the BIG celebration, yet! That will be next year for their bi-centennial. I haven’t seen this kind of patriotism since America celebrated her own independence in 1976. (By the way, I was just a mere child, but I still remember). Now consider this, how marvelous would it be if Christians were to display their identity with such enthusiasm? No, we wouldn’t use flags, buttons, or t-shirts which could fade away. Instead, we would simply exhibit our identity in the way Christ commanded us, by showing our love toward one another (John 13:35). What a celebration that would be!

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #42 – Where there is smoke there must be fire. Living in a third world country presents its unique expressions every day. For example, it is not uncommon to encounter someone who always smells like smoke, (not cigarette smoke, but rather, firewood smoke). It can happen on the bus, in the grocery store, at a soccer game, or even during worship. The reason is, many people in Paraguay do not have central heat and air in their homes, nor do they have a stove-top oven in their kitchens. Quite often, their only means of warmth during the winter is to build a fire. Most of the time, they must also do their cooking by building a small fire. Thus, they always smell like smoke. With just one quick whiff, it is possible to discern the lifestyle of another. Our Christian lives should be the same way, in many regards. Just as one can recognize that the smell of smoke is the result of being near fire, do our actions and words reflect the results of living a Christ centered life?

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #41 – Time to take my pulse in the culture shock process. We have been here for three months now and quite frankly, I am not quite sure where I fit in the different stages. The “Honeymoon Stage” seems to have worn off, but many things are still new and fascinating to me. The “Anger Stage” is next and although I have had my moments, I certainly don’t feel angry. That stage is followed by the “Superiority Stage.” Yes, I do feel that North Americans do many things better, but the South Americans certainly have us beat on several fronts. Does this mean I have already arrived at the “Acceptance Stage”? That can’t be, I just haven’t been here long enough. Perhaps I am not giving myself enough time to allow each of these various stages to manifest themselves more precisely. Yet, I feel am certainly growing more accustomed to my surroundings. I am more comfortable with the language. I also believe I am beginning to understand the culture and its people much better. Regardless of how I feel, however, there is one thing that I have definitely learned, everyday that I am here I see there is a greater amount of work to do in Paraguay. Souls are at risk and the clock is ticking faster …..

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #39 – Citizenship. In Paraguay, there is one thing that is of the utmost importance, it is called a “Cedula.” It is important because without it, it is very difficult to get through the random police checks, open a simple bank account, sign a legal document, or remain in the country without having to leave every 90 days. The Cedula is the Paraguayan citizenship card. Foreigners can acquire a “resident” version, but it takes a very long time, involves a difficult process, and it requires a substantial amount of money. Being exposed to this as a foreigner in this country, I believe I now have a much better understanding as to what Paul was referring to in Philippians 3:20. As a Jewish descendant, Paul had unique citizenship in the Roman empire (cf Acts 22:22-29), but he valued his citizenship in heaven much more.

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #36 – How do others see me? I have heard the saying many times, “The only sermon some people may hear is the one they see in the way you live your life.” I have also learned that being a Christian is not just a name that we wear, but it is something that we DO. This has never been more true to me than right now. In the mission field, I am not able to speak the language as well as I would like, but that doesn’t stop me from keeping busy serving others. How does this effect the way others view me? What stops any us from going to every study or function offered with the congregation? What’s to stop us from working in the kitchen at a church retreat or assisting others at a VBS? Or, when we go about our daily lives in the grocery store, the bank, or any place that we may find ourselves, do we act the way a Christian should act? There are many who may not be preaching from a pulpit in a church building, but we should all pray that our actions speak louder in the pulpit of our lives.

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #35 – Video conference calls are such a wonderful blessing! The preacher at our sponsoring congregation got the idea to have a video conference call just before services on a Wednesday night and connect the computer to the auditorium projector. He said that when our faces appeared on the screen “live” from Paraguay, that there were gasps, clapping, and tears shed. People were filing into the auditorium and a buzz of excitement was in the air. We were able to say, “Hello” to everyone back home and also see them on our computer screen. A few of our brethren asked us questions and we got to express how much we loved them, appreciated them, and missed them. That call brought a great deal of joy to the brethren of our sponsoring congregation, not to mention, that Andrea and I didn’t stop smiling for two days from the joy it brought us.

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #34 – This past weekend we had a congregational retreat. We rented a little campground about 45 minutes outside the city that is maintained by a Korean denominational group. We spent two days singing, studying, worshiping, and fellow-shipping. This was my first experience with a church campground setting in a foreign country. It was wonderful! The entire weekend, I couldn’t help but think how thrilling it is to see God’s word working in the lives of the Paraguayans in the exact same way I am accustomed to seeing in the States. In reality, it doesn’t matter on what continent one may stand, God’s word touches hearts in any culture. The best part – going to camp “rejuvinated my spiritual batteries” even if it was in a different language!

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #33 – There are many cultural crossroads. One simple question within this context is, “What are you?” Are you an American first, or, are you a Christian first? In other words, do you place your citizenship as an American before your citizenship in heaven? What takes priority in your decision making process? There are many Christians who get this fundamental principle confused. Yes, the Bible says we are to be responsible citizens (Romans 13), but, it also says that we are a peculiar people, set apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore, we need to make life decisions based upon how it will effect our citizenship in heaven, FIRST.
This is not just an American problem. We have experienced this same problem here in Paraguay. One of the dominant threads running through the fabric of Paraguayan society is the “who you know” aspect. Our brethren will sometimes make decisions based upon how it will reflect upon them in society – even if it is contrary to the scriptures. So, the question becomes, “Are you a Paraguayan first, or a Christian first?” How will it effect your eternal destiny? (Acts 5:29)

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #32 – Street kids. One of the things that truly tugs at your heart strings in Asuncion, Paraguay is seeing so many children in the street. Most of them are working on the street corners and the medians. These children are either begging for coins, trying to sell a product or service, (like washing your windshield), or sometimes, they are being used by their parents to get you to give some money. Most of the kids are barefoot and poorly clothed. They stand out in the heat and diesel smoke all day. Paraguay is indeed a poor country and it is difficult for many to earn a living. But, it is truly sad when kids don’t get to be just kids and have to be thrown into a terrible circumstance like working a street median.

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #31 – It brings me to my knees every time. I have been raising funds for more than three years and as anyone who has ever done that will tell you, it is exhausting. There are so many emotions that one goes through that it would probably take a few volumes just to describe it in written word. But, there is one emotion which simply eclipses them all. It is the feeling I get when I receive a phone call or an email telling me that someone (or some congregation) wants to support our work. Yes, I feel happy and have excitement, but first, I am brought me to me knees, overwhelmed with thankfulness. I immediately go to God in prayer thanking Him for what He has provided. I have received a few of these calls and yet, it humbles me every time. I get this strange sensation in the pit of my stomach and then a realization overcomes me that I am just a meek and lowly servant in a vast and marvelous kingdom. I am serving the King of kings. I can only begin to imagine how overwhelmed Peter must have felt when he came face to face of the magnitude of our Lord´s almighty power when he was humbled before Jesus, (Luke 5:4-9).

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay

Culture Shock Chronicles

Journal Entry #30 – Just the bare necessities: food, clothing, shelter, companions, and the Bible. That’s all anyone REALLY needs. It is amazing how one can be content with so little. (Sounds very Pauline doesn’t it? cf. Phil. 4:11). Yet, we Americans prefer to have lot’s of STUFF. I once heard a weatherman advise people to please wait until after a hurricane had completely passed before ”feeling the need to get out and move your ‘stuff’ around.” That is so accurate! We are like little ants constantly scurrying about having to move “stuff” from one place to another. I got to thinking about this when I was looking around our new apartment and noticed how bare it is. We have no furniture or other “normal” things in our house, yet. All of our furniture and belongings are stuck in shipment. They probably won’t arrive for another two or three months. Yet, we are perfectly happy to just be in our own place. We have food, clothing, shelter, companionship, and our Bibles. Life is great! ……. but, I must admit, a sofa would sure make it a little better.

#mission, #missionary, #paraguay