Saturday, May 2, 2009

Missionary Affluence and a Crucified King

One of the interns gave a seminar based upon Jonathan Bonk's book "Missions and Money," which addresses the issue of missionary affluence overseas. Bonk points out that most missionaries are believed to be making huge sacrifices by their peers from their home country. Missionaries give up much in terms of what "could have been" if they had stayed home. Most missionaries, however, still live in incredible affluence compared to the poor people they live among. Affluence doesn't have to look like TV's and vacations in Spain; in some contexts, affluence is a tin roof. Affluence is access to hospitalization, or the ability to leave the country if things get hot politically.

How exactly are we, as representatives of Christ, called to model him who "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor?" How do we witness to a Jesus who asks us to die with him that we may live, and commands us to give to all who ask of us, and yet still do so faithfully from within the walls of a missionary complex? How do we find the proper balance between living wisely and caring for our families, and yet still exemplifying the kind of self-denying life that Christ calls us to when we take up our crosses and follow him?

I don't have easy answers to these questions (perhaps because there are not easy answers to these questions). It is good to be challenged though, and to prayerfully reflect.

I'm beginning the process of seeking out next steps. I still have no idea where I'll go when I finish here at ECHO, but I am excited to find out. There are so many organization working overseas, and so many potential countries and programs, that it is very difficult to narrow down my options with any confidence. Things would be much easier if I was given a clear calling to a particular place, but until then I must learn to prayerfully discern his will in each decision, and trust that he will guide my steps at the proper times.

I'm going to Chattanooga next weekend for Heather's graduation, and I couldn't be more excited. I only wish I had longer. I'll be in Marietta next in early July, and I'm hoping to have an entire week to catch up with people who I won't have seen for several months.


Anonymous said...

These things have certainly been on my mind recently. Other complicating factors are the expectations of the sending Church-- when a Church sends missionaries responsibly, she generally insists that they have insurance, access to health care, evacuation, the works. This generally makes missionaries incredibly affluent in the host country, which causes all sorts of problems... but to refuse the generosity of the sending Church-- or to go without the blessing of the Church-- has major problems as well. Sure I'll be dealing with this stuff all my life.

Have you looked at Word Made Flesh? I know they tackle these issues head-on, and do great work.

Vicki said...

OK....I think it is time to update....just saying.

Love you Moose,