I, and I am sure most of you reading here, regularly receive newsletters from missionaries or missionary organisations. Almost universal in all these letters is a paragraph where an appeal is made for funds. OK, I still have to find a missionary or a mission organisation not in need of money. More funds enable them to do more work! A few years ago, after reading George Müller’s biography, I personally made the decision that I, as far as humanly possible, will not ask for money from people to support our ministry. I’m not saying that I will never ever do it. Especially with our AIDS ministry, it may become necessary to submit proposals to large organisations who want to support such projects, which in a certain sense boils down to asking and which I am still not always sure how to handle. But I trust that God will give me wisdom if and when I have to do this.
Yesterday I received a newsletter starting as follows: We are on our way to ****** for an indefinite time and will be leaving within 3 weeks. ****** may not be the easiest place to go to but we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to go there. Please agree with us in prayer that our financial needs will be met regarding the airfares, our stay, and outreaches…. We desire to fulfill the call of Mark 16:15 to “Go onto the entire world and preach the Gospel” and we also desire for you to fulfill that call as well. Your donation will aid us as we preach the Gospel in remote and unreached areas, impact others who will in turn impact others who will impact all generations worldwide with the truth and power of the Gospel. All gifts, great or small, will be appreciated.
Is this asking, begging or manipulating? I remember another occasion when I just got downright angry after receiving a letter from someone who felt led by the Lord to go to another country as missionary. In this letter the person wrote: If you do not respond to this letter by sending me a financial contribution, then you are being disobedient to God, because God wants me to go! Unnecessary to say, this letter ended in my “Outbox” – the one beneath my desk!
A few months ago I heard about a couple who had felt led by the Lord to move up into Africa to do missionary work throughout Africa and was going around asking / begging / manipulating people to support them. This led to great anger amongst some Christians I know, especially when it came out that they had told the people from whom they had asked funds that they were going for a year (what can you do in a year’s time in Africa????) and then returned after only a couple of weeks. People felt that they had sponsored them to go on a nice adventure holiday. Little wonder that people are reluctant to support missions when things like this happen.
I become increasingly uncomfortable when reading newsletters from missionaries and getting the idea that the letters are written mainly to manipulate their readers in donating money for their cause. And obviously, this forces me to look at my own motives when I send out my monthly newsletter. Am I perhaps doing the same thing, possibly without even realising it?
What are your experiences about missionaries asking / begging / manipulating others to get money?