Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Archive for the ‘Debt and missions’ Category

Obstacles to Serving in Missions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

“I have traveled the country speaking and meeting with college students from 150 colleges, teaching God’s heart for the world and challenging people to live missionally,” says Josh Cooper, author of the 2013 book Hold Fast: The Mission of God and the Obstacles of Man.

“Everyone has at least one good excuse why they shouldn’t live their life for the mission of God. Therefore, most people who live for God’s purpose won’t end up doing so accidentally. Out of the hundreds of thousands challenged to be missional Christians, only a small handful make it.”

Cooper recognizes nine obstacles which hold back today’s students and keep them from considering full-time missionary service as a reasonable option for their lives:

  1. A lack of awareness of God’s mission purposes
  2. A focus on needs closer to home
  3. Materialism
  4. Romantic relationships
  5. Family opposition
  6. Theological issues (e.g., pluralism)
  7. Uncertainty about their calling
  8. The burden of debt
  9. Concerns about raising support

Cooper shares stories of those who have overcome each struggle and provides encouragement to keep the reader moving forward.

» Know students or others who could use this book? Get copies for them and one for yourself, then read and discuss it together.

Davis Interview: Living intentionally

Friday, April 25th, 2008

by Paul Nielsen

This issue’s interview is with Chester and Amy Davis. I’ve known them both for more than ten years now. They presently live with their four young children in Lincoln, Nebraska while Chester works on a mechanical engineering degree.

They present some ideas here that are challenging and outside of the norm; I was hoping for this when I emailed them about doing an interview. In their own words, they are living intentionally. Their intention: To serve God in the area of missions that uses their gifts and fills a need. They are as dedicated as anyone I’ve personally known in living out this desire. While not everyone will agree with all of their observations or exhortations, the sacrifices they’ve made along the way are something every aspiring missionary needs to seriously consider.

This will be the first in a two-part series.

Propel: You’ve expressed concern about the amount of support required of missionaries by some mission organizations. Can you elaborate on this concern?

Chester: For some reason we, here in America, have bought into certain aspects of the “health and wealth” gospel, and it shows up in support raising. It’s simply un-Biblical to require that God provide exactly how we dictate in order for a person to be in full-time ministry. Secondly, it is outrageous to require that if God wants to use me in ministry that He must provide an income greater than that which be paid a worker in the most wealthy country in the universe.

Amy: It’s interesting to me that people in some vocations can make a lot more being a missionary than they could in the area of their training. For example, a degree in English or history or speech doesn’t generate high pay. But a missionary is paid not for his training or according to his skills, but what is considered a “reasonable living.” This seems (to me) to support a lifestyle roughly equivalent to $60-$70K USD annually. Also, a missionary’s wages increase with the number of dependants. What other field does this? 


Living on less to give more

Friday, April 25th, 2008

by M-DAT executive director

Ask an eighty year old about victory gardens and ration coupons and you will hear some interesting stories. These programs were instituted during World War I and II to limit consumption and free up materials needed for the war effort. Average citizens sacrificed to achieve victory.

A few years ago I took a mission course, that introduced me to something called the “wartime lifestyle.” It takes the concept mentioned above and applies it to the Great Commission. Jesus left the Church the task of taking the Gospel to all people. How can we limit our consumption to free up resources for the completion of the task?

First, you must find out where your money is currently going. You can not adjust your diet unless you know what you are eating. Track spending for a month, then make a plan. It is sobering to realize that over the next 20 years the average American household will have one million dollars pass through their hands. You need a plan in place to tell that money where to go. No plan, expect waste. College students and singles often think they are exempt from needing a plan. This is simply not true. They are often times the ones that are the most susceptible to waste. Getting a plan in place and sticking to it takes a lot of courage and discipline. But if you are serious about living on less to give more, you have got to do it. I recommend attending a Financial Peace Seminar or the Financial Peace University to help.


Interview with Stacy A.

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

This issue’s interview is with Stacy A., an aspiring missionary who grew up in Nebraska and presently lives in that state’s capital city, Lincoln. She addresses a few things here related to missions we’ve yet to talk about in Propel.

Propel: How long have you been interested in long-term missions?

Stacy: I have been interested in long term missions since I took Perspectives a little over two years ago.

Propel: When and how did this interest begin?

Stacy: I came to Christ in 1997. In 1998, I began to feel a tug toward missions, which I pretty much ignored for a while as I planned to go into politics, and missions would kind of just mess that up! But in late 1998 (I was still I in high school) I went to a youth conference in Denver. During the conference they did a presentation about different countries and people groups. I was fairly indifferent until I heard that “One Million Buddhists Die Every Year without ever hearing the name of Christ.” God broke me right there. I didn’t hear anything else during that conference; I couldn’t focus on the sessions, I was completely distracted by that statistic. Through a series of events during the conference that week, God really confirmed that he wanted me to go to Southeast Asia for missions work. He wasn’t clear on when or how long, just Southeast Asia.

Well, being young in age — and young in Jesus — I was ready to go that next summer. So, I got information from this conference about their trip to Southeast Asia My parents were not believers, but I was convinced that if God called me they would let me go. This may come as a surprise, but it didn’t work that way. I was promptly grounded and not allowed to go to church anymore. Some months passed and I was able to go back to church. I was greatly questioning this “call” I had received because my parents had acted so horribly against it. But this longing and ache for Southeast Asia, just wouldn’t leave my heart.

Finally, in 2002, the college group at my church was going to Southeast Asia. I applied and was accepted to the team. This trip confirmed my love for Southeast Asia more than any experience of my lifetime. It was pretty clear to me that even if God didn’t call me full-time that I would have to go semi-regularly to Southeast Asia. Perspectives was really the training ground in which God made clear that this was to be my life’s work. I still don’t have all the details of when or how, but as I have learned from previous experience, He’ll get me there in His time.

Propel: You’re interested in social issues and community development as missions, if I understand correctly. What are you doing now to specifically prepare yourself for this kind of work? (more…)

What about debt and missions?

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

by Paul Nielsen

In college a friend of mine participated in a mission trip to Peru. He returned very excited about the ministry and the people in Peru, and after returning he volunteered at length with them. He also spoke about going overseas long-term.

But he had debt, lots of debt. Most of the borrowed money paid for classes, and after changing his major at least twice at that point he owed around $50,000. This was with roughly two years left to finish a degree.

After realizing how difficult it would be to serve long-term with such debt he quickly changed his lifestyle. He sold his new jeep, took the bus and stopped eating out so much. Despite this pretty radical lifestyle adjustment the debt remained oppressive — and not just financially. He emailed me after some time talking about how discouraged he was, feeling God leading him to serve in ministry full-time, but not being able to follow that call.

This is not unusual, as the interview accompanying this article attests to. In the United States borrowing from the bank is second nature for us. My college friend once shared with me how his father borrowed to pay for books bought online.

70% of U.S. missionaries raise personal support in order to serve. Many sending organizations don’t let missionary candidates raise support to pay for debt — especially money owed on credit cards. Financial supporters want their donations to go towards ministry. There are exceptions from time to time, especially with respect to student loans. A recent ELIC brochure clearly stated that they accept candidates with student loans.

My wife and I presently serve stateside in a mobilizing role. When we began this venture, I was just out of college and owed $15,000 in student loans. Our plan was for her to continue working after I began drawing a salary at M-DAT until the loans were paid off. It was a good idea (Although it ended up not working exactly as we hoped.) but one that probably won’t work overseas.

I still remember being a college student and realize how trivial the idea of borrowing to pay for school seemed at the time. There are people like my beautiful wife who get some absurdly high score on their ACT (I think hers was 7,900,000 when rounded down) and have to keep Ivy League scholarship offers at bay with a broom. And then there are the rest of us — the most of us — who understand we’ll probably need to borrow money just to make it through a public university.

After you graduate reality sets in. Debt ties you down. Avoid it at all costs, and I mean that literally. And if you’re already strapped with loans, pay them off as quickly as possible. Forgo the lattés, the new technology and the new car. After all, you’ll be living on a missionary’s salary soon enough anyway — and driving is overrated. Walk or take the bus.


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