There are few groups who endure more injustices than our military. They dutifully go out and put their life on the line only to be shot in the back by treacherous folks back home. The News Media attacks them for not being politically correct. Congress cuts their budget even while expenses are rising and the folks back home, with incomplete knowledge of the situations, complain, "Well I wouldn't have made that mistake." This injustice isn't what I find incredible. What I find incredible is that there are always those brave, young people who are willing to fill the ranks of our military services knowing full well that these things are going to happen to them.
These very same type of injustices are also heaped onto the front line soldiers within the ranks of Christianity, our missionaries. Unlike those who voluntarily join our military, I do understand why these folks join the ranks - they are ordered to do so by God. But that doesn't lessen the abuse that is heaped on them by their own people. They are called "moochinaries" and crooks by some. Meanwhile, some pastors use their visit to present their field as an opportunity to abuse them and put them through the wringer. Then, once they get on the field, they are faced with all the problems inherent with starting a church with the added complications of doing it in a foreign language and in a foreign culture which many times is hostile to them. Once on the field they are soon subjected to "Conviction of the Month Club" letters from some supporters who boldly declare they will lose their support unless they sign on to believing whatever this month's "great doctrinal truth" is.
Even church members have a belittling opinion about missionaries. While they look at pastors and evangelists with an almost "celebrity" status, they look at missionaries as though they were God's "lesser" children. Everyone wants to know why they don't live in a dung hut just like the natives do. And these are the soldiers who have the hardest and most dangerous assignments in Christianity!
On top of that they are told exactly how to do their job by someone who has never done it! Our theory on missions is great. But it is just a theory. You know, "Go to the field, start a church, train a national, turn the church over to that national and then go out and repeat the process over and over." The only problem with this process is that 8 out of 10 times it doesn't work! From Ireland to the Arctic I've seen it fail time and time again. (Don't you even say it's because the missionary didn't do it right!)
Example: Missionary starts church, trains national and dutifully turns it over to the national. The national pastor immediately changes the church into a non-denominational church. Then, because he is not as motivated as an American, he does nothing to either build the work or feed the people and the church begins to die. Meanwhile, the missionary's new work isn't getting off the ground like the first one did and everyone back home is "realizing" this missionary must be a dud who's using church support to live like a king.
Result: Today, both churches are closed and the broken missionary is back in the USA.
Example: Missionary starts church, etc. The national pastor gets into false doctrine and steers the church in the wrong direction.
Result: National pastor is now in the world. The church is gone. The missionary's heart is broken.
Example: Missionary starts church, etc., turns it over to an American pastor.
Result: I know of two cases of this. In one the church ended up closed. In the other the pastor went contemporary and corrupted the people. Now the new pastor is having a fit trying to get these "goats" to live like "sheep" again.
To you and I these are "sad situations" which we "really feel bad about." But how would you feel if you had sunk five or ten years of your life into one of these churches? All the while fending off "Conviction of the Month Club" letters and always short of the needed financial support, while being told by some "expert" who isn't even on the field how you should do your job?
To give you a little example of the financial hardships missionaries work under here're some prices we discovered in our recent trip to the Arctic, in the United States of America.
- A head of lettuce - $7.00
- A dozen Eggs -$3.29 - $3.89
- A gallon of Milk -$8.50
- A cake mix -$3.50
- A pound of Butter -$6.00
- One apple - $1.50
- One 15" car tire - $250.00
- Fuel oil - $3.90 a gal (Before Katrina)
Rather than stabbing our best people in the back or waxing righteous at their expense let me make a suggestion. Why don't you "Adopt a Missionary"? Is there a missionary you know of (No, not "Evangelist Sam Gipp.") that you like? Or maybe just pick one off your church mission board. Sure, you could send them cards at their birthdays/ anniversaries. But there's more you can do. Ladies, go out and buy things like cake mixes, pudding; games and little things that they could never afford and send it to them every few months. Guys, buy the missionary a subscription to a magazine of his interest; hunting, cars, golf etc. Why can't we try to think of things that will lift their spirits and do them. Wouldn't it be nice to get to Heaven and hear that your actions kept a missionary on the field?
When a missionary couple comes home on furlough give them some money so they can go off by themselves and relax for a week or two. (No, they don't need a week in your basement!)Why do we so cruelly insist that life has to be unbearable and then set about to make it that way? Why don't we strengthen their hands?
Think of how you would feel if you lived where they spoke a weird language, ate horrible stuff and you had to be afraid everyday that your daughters might be kidnapped and raped. What kind of letter would you want to get from home? What would you like someone to do for you?
In our military one-tenth of the active duty personnel are combat troops. That means 90% exist simply to support that 10%. If you are not in a "combat" role for the Lord then you are the "support" role. If you cannot think of how you are PERSONALLY doing something to support our spiritual troops, then you are failing the Lord and your fellow soldiers. I don't just mean supporting missions through giving. I mean PERSONALLY buying, sending, writing, providing and encouraging our missionaries. They have the hardest jobs in Christianity. I don't mind telling you that, not only do I not want their job but I couldn't do it! So, I'm going to do what I can to help them stay on the field lest God call me to go and replace them!
You don't have to give up your life like they did. You don't
have to give up your future, like they did. Just give up your next "toy." Give
up another shotgun or another fishing rod or another set of skies. Maybe you
won't remodel the bathroom again, but you'll help one of our first
line soldiers. You decide.