Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Once more about planning, trusting and commitment

I have a group of people from a church in South Africa helping us at Dwaleni. The group consists mostly of highschool children (two boys and two girls with three more boys joining today) and then my youngest son and my daughter also joined them on this outreach. They are accompanied by their youth pastor (female), her parents who are helping with the cooking as well as coordinating the work that needs to be done and the chairperson of their church’s missions committee and his wife. One of the things happening this week which I’m really glad about, is that our church is being plastered. The building is over a hundred years old (it used to be a store) and does not give a good impression, as you can see on this photo:.
But all of this is just the background for some conversations I had yesterday. With the exception of one of the children, none of them had previously had any contact with anyone who is HIV-positive. Yesterday I arranged that some of our home-based caregivers take these children with them to visit people at their homes. For all of them this was an eye-opener. Even my own son, who hears about this work every single day in our house and who sees photos and videos of our work, was amazed when he saw what the home-based caregivers are doing, mentioning afterwards to the youth pastor that even he had never realised the extent of the work that the home-based caregivers are doing.
Over lunch the chairperson of the mission’s committee made the remark that he would really like to see something similar start in their own church in South Africa but that it would not happen this year. I then asked him what would prevent them from starting with such a project this year and received the answer I expected: It had not been planned and budgeted for! I’m all for planning. I’m all for calculating the costs. But I’m not convinced that God only works from financial year to financial year. And even if there is nothing on the budget for such a project in the current financial year, what would prevent us from at least getting people together and starting discussions on the issue? This can be done at no cost.
Which probably all comes back to the issue of commitment which I mentioned a few days ago: “Not planned for” and “Not on this year’s budget” are legitimate excuses for not getting involved and not committing to projects. But I think this is an easy way out. What about: “Not planned for and not budgeted for, but let’s pray about this and if this is what God wants us to do, then let’s do it!”


Saturday, March 29, 2008 - Posted by | Culture Shock, HIV & AIDS, Home-based Caring, Mission, Partnership, Prayer, Short-term outreaches, Social issues, Support teams, Sustainability, Swaziland, Theology


  1. What if it is not commitment at issue in this case? From an organizational level, planning, budgeting and commitment are necessary. But not on the personal level. Seeing a need, hearing the call of God, and accepting the burden/vision are really all an individual needs.

    Perhaps we need to work through the same issue that Samuel had in the Bible. He saw how bad Eli’s sons were, but he was just a child. Powerless, not responsible, outside the issue. Even when God called him directly, he had to check with his ministry leader. What if Eli had been afraid of what God’s message would cost him? What if Eli had decided that Samuel should sleep first and talk to God in the morning? Or a hundred other excuses. Eli did what was right, and Samuel learned a great lesson. You have to be ready to hear from God at any time.

    Samuel also learned that once you hear from God you have to do something. Most of the things we have recorded that God asked Samuel to do were things that were uncomfortable (telling a mentor that God was judging him), involved personal risk (annointing a new king was treason), took great effort (he often walked for miles — as an old man — to get to the places God directed), and were against the accepted practices of the day (telling a king not to plunder after a victory, for example).

    A lot of church employed workers notice a great difference in zeal, risk taking, innovation, and just plain willingness between those who are the new Christians (or first generation, or first in their family unit) and those who are children of Christians (or second or third or long line of generations of Christians).

    Perhaps we have an institutional weakness to be Eli-like. Perhaps we just need more Samuels.

    (I’m not trying to be “preachy” here, just finding common reference points for illustration.)

    Comment by CGross | Monday, March 31, 2008 | Reply

  2. You’re making an excellent point. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but this is the ideal we have to work for. Thanks for posting that comment.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Monday, March 31, 2008 | Reply

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