... do I want my $$$ supporting?
That's the question I was asking myself last night. My church had a wonderful missions conference this last weekend, and I must say that I am overwhelmed by how God is working through our little church in Billings, MT. What partners we have around the world! It is such a privilege and a joy to be part of a church where we have a strong sense of our place and calling in the global Kingdom.
One missionary in particular was a highlight for me. He's kind of the anti-missionary: long-haired, long-haul trucker, VW bus-driving, former-Hollywood sound guy. No formal training for ministry: he doesn't talk the missionary talk or fit the type at all. (He's so cool!)
More than that, God has led him through a long and painful process of failure and brokenness. But he will be the first to say that this was the perfect training ground for the mission field. God wants to use him in his brokenness.
So he's got all of these gifts and experiences and connections in the arts world, and he's being sent to do ministry in this arena in Asia. "What," people asked, "specifically will he do?" "I don't know yet. I'm going to serve our ministry partners there. They know their needs, they have a ministry plan. Our role is to serve them where they see the needs. If that means I clean bathrooms, then I'll be cleaning bathrooms."
Here I hit the pause button.
He is willing. Are we? Are we willing to send our missionary dollars to support someone who's cleaning toilets? I mean, can't they pay someone there a fraction of that amount to do it, and we'll put our money into something that really counts? Would we be getting our money's worth if he ended up cleaning bathrooms and not doing more, um, meaningful kingdom work? I would be surprised if this weren't in the corner of most people's minds after he made this remark. I know I had to think it through.
I submit that we as a church (and the American church writ large) need to go through this process of brokenness and failure until we too are willing to clean bathrooms ... or to send our missionary dollars for someone who might be a "mere" toilet cleaner ... and to see it as the best thing they could be doing. The American church is far too willing to take the positions of power and prestige (even unconsciously), when in fact we'd do well to shut up and take the back seat. We grow and serve best when we come alongside our national partners to do what they need us to do, not what we think they need (oh, and we have some top-quality ministry partners, too). This is true both in terms of our missionaries AND our mission dollars.
What kind of missionary do I want to support? The kind who also leads me into humble and genuine service of Christ's body worldwide.