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On the Value of American Missions, Dollar and Otherwise

Abu Daoud is absolutely correct in his response concerning the impact of the falling US Dollar on American missions:

The weakening dollar will have a bad effect on world missions, by the way. It will become more difficult for the US to send out as many missionaries as it does today.

Working as I do in close proximity with my church’s World Missions department, I am very aware of the problem here.  The cost in US Dollars of supporting American missionaries has become much higher of late, especially in those regions (Europe and the UK, and to a lesser extent East Asia) where the dollar is further and further upside down relative to the local currency.  It is a real problem for Americans called of God to go to these parts of the world.

However, this is as good of an opportunity as any to take issue with a message that many American mission agencies either state or imply, i.e., that, if the U.S. doesn’t send out missionaries, the Gospel will not be spread and the world will not be saved.  While this may have had some validity in the past, this is not the case today.  The Anglican Communion is an excellent example of this: with the widespread apostasy we see in North America and Europe, the “Global South” provinces are having a field day directing missions (if not necessarily financing them) toward the U.S.

Beyond that, many Christians from all parts of the world are answering the call to take the Gospel outside of the borders of their home countries.  The Koreans which the Taliban kidnapped in Afghanistan are a recent, well-publicised example of this, but there are many others.

One example of such a missions effort took place several years ago when Gordon Robertson, Pat’s son, was in Manila, Philippines, managing CBN Asia.  He got together with Miguel Alvarez, a Church of God missionary originally from Honduras, and together they began a school to train Asians to go to the neighbouring countries (Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, India, etc.) and do missions work.  The Filipinos and other Asians are culturally closer to those they are ministering than Westerners, and bluntly they are far less expensive to send out then their Western counterparts.  It was also a good example of cooperation between a parachurch ministry and a denomination, which we need to see more of.  It took a little nerve, though; as Miguel explained to me, they started the school first and informed their respective organisations about it later.

Miguel Alvarez lining up his putt carefully at the LifeBuilders Golf Tournament.  He shows equal care in his ministry, currently to the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the U.S.

The U.S.’ role in world missions is important.  One reason God has blessed this country in spite of the way it does is because Americans have generously supported missions work both with funds and personnel.  But the Great Commission was for the entire church; as men and women from other countries go out to spread the Gospel and, yes, lay people give of what resources they have to support this, the blessings to everyone will increase.


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