How thankful we are for the many congregations and individuals who sacrifice each week to support preachers and missionaries. Also, many elderships are comprised of true shepherds who challenge their flocks to invest in missionary endeavors. This brief article is aimed at stimulating deeper consideration about how spiritual people ought to ascertain the worthiness of a mission effort.
The first consideration must be to determine if the work or worker under consideration is biblically aligned. Only those evangelists and missionaries who speak solely “the things which befit the sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1) are worthy of support. Timothy was charged by the Holy Spirit (through Paul) to hold “the pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13). The only teaching that is healthy is that which is pure and unaltered (Galatians 1:6-10). How deplorable it is when some are supported, sometimes for years, without the supporters even knowing the foundation upon which the worker stands. For example, some of our readers may have heard of the mission effort called Namikango Mission in the African country of Malawi. The stateside congregation associated with this work is the New Beginnings church in Houston, Texas. Would you be comfortable worshiping where the “worship arts” include “dance ministry, drama team, and praise band?” But the real question is not whether you or I would be comfortable, but whether such items are authorized by the One we serve (Colossians 3:17). Even if the “dance ministry” is “open to everyone, exists to honor God through movement and dance” it cannot genuinely honor God when such is not by the authority of Jesus Christ. (See www.nbchurch.com/ministries/worship-arts).
One unfortunate reality is the existence of the practice of painting one picture via newsletters and reports, while quite another is visible on the field. In 2001 I made my first trip to India. I had rendezvoused in Bangkok with a missionary of 30+ years of experience and we proceeded together to India. While in India, we were seated in a little eating establishment and he directed my attention to a nearby table. He said something to this effect: “See that man over there, he is brother ____________.” His supporters don’t know it, but when he is over here, he works in cooperation with denominational groups.” I wish it were the case that these are extremely rare cases that I just happened to learn about.
May no one overreact and think we view the missionary community as wholly tainted. Oh no! God has soldiers on the front lines wielding the sword of the spirit with valor and faithfulness. But neither should we assume the posture of the proverbial ostrich. “Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). May we support as many as we can who are willing to live by this rule! George