by EMQ Readers
EMQ Readers write…
Floating or Focused
After reading the article “A Floating or a Focused Missions Program at Your Church?” I found myself responding with anger over the seemingly biblical guidelines provided by the author Keith Bateman.
First, my credentials. I am a wife, mother of four, church planter, and missionary of 16 years in Spain—a supposedly reached country. I have issues with this article that can not be ignored. Forty million issues without Christ! I never write letters to the editor; normally, I just complain to my husband. But this time, he turned on me and said, “You write the letter.”
Ok, first off, I am tired of hearing the terms “reached” and “unreached” brandished about as if they were divinely inspired. Please do not forget that, while useful, these are merely missiological terms that do not appear in the New Testament when describing the lost. Whatever happened to talking about saved and unsaved? There is a huge danger in undermining serious mission work and missing the strategic importance of what God is doing in the church around the world. Also, much is made of the “fact” that only ten percent of the missionary force is focusing on the “unreached.” There is a reason for that. There are many impenetrable countries. One large church that has such a clear “vision” repeatedly turns down those who are working with the very people who could reach Muslims. The “reached” of Latin America, Asia or other locations may be the very instrument God could use to gain access to those countries that have anti-western biases. This same church missions committee, in turning away its own members because they don’t share its vision, has not sent out a missionary in over five years! Here the focus, rather than becoming sharper, is sadly shortsighted. God is sovereign over the nations and isn’t being trumped by anyone. He opens and closes doors. Because of his love for individuals and people groups, he lays different burdens and visions on his people both individually and corporately. God called Paul to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews.
Since the article places so much emphasis on deploying missionaries to the unreached, let’s listen carefully to the rationale the author presents when referring to choice of location: “Over ninety percent of missionaries go to already reached areas. This is not only a questionable use of manpower, but it tends to be dull.” This is high criticism, indeed. Heaven forbid that when reporting about our ministry, we should sound dull! Missions is now reduced in meaning to its entertainment value?
Another issue is the delicate financial one. For years my husband and I have avoided mentioning our own personal financial needs in our letters. Sure we talked about special projects, but when it came to our monthly support for our own numerous family, quite frankly, it seemed gauche. Yet when facing a significant monthly shortfall, we were urged by close friends/supporters to simply share what our need was. Perhaps Hudson Taylor (armed only with his toothbrush) never talked about those needs, but Scripture gives examples of others who do. Fortunately, for those of us who squirm over alluding to personal needs, the Apostle Paul is straightforward and specific as he sends appeals to his Christian brothers: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13).
In the final analysis, I recognize that churches today need to come up with clear guidelines or a grid of some kind for selecting the missionaries they will support. But remember, too, it is the Holy Spirit that blesses the church with people with unique gifts. Instead of making everyone fit the mold, the sending church would do well to listen to the Spirit of God as he calls his people in our churches into ministry. We might just discover a beautiful mosaic of ministries and outreach rather than just another franchise.
Laurel Schmid Aulie, Church planting in Spain with SEND International