While I was overseas I was stunned to hear more than one person tell me that when it comes to missionaries raising their financial support, New Zealand is gaining a reputation for being very slow - the slowest of them all.
I wonder if this is true. Are we becoming stingy? Are we growing less committed to the financial support of missionaries in cross-cultural settings? I offer a few comments on which you can chew...
One For about a generation now we have been told that there is nothing special about missionaries. They are not super-spiritual. 'Pull them down off that pedestal.' There is truth in this. However maybe the pendulum needs to swing back a bit. The reality is that the missionaries which I have just met are special. They are making sacrifices that very few of us are willing to make. They should be prized. And part of that 'prizing' should be making it very easy for them to raise their support because we are all so generous.
Two While it is hardly the best incentive maybe the easing of tax laws regarding rebates on charitable giving can be used of God to build a fresh wave of generosity?
Three I am less and less convinced that the practise of tithing is meant for the New Testament era. [Please correct me before I fall into heresy - there is still time!] This is because, in practise, tithing simply becomes a mandate to keep 90% for myself. And yet the bottom line is that all we own comes under the Lordship of Jesus. 100% is his - not 10%. Followers of Jesus living way above something like the minimum wage should be considering giving way above 10%. And those who do will one day have honour heaped upon them by God ... and in the meantime more missionaries (among other people and projects) will experience quicker and fuller support.
Four There is generosity in NZ. Look at the growth in Child Sponsorship through the likes of Tear Fund and World Vision. It is staggering. In NZ homes photos on the fridge are almost as common as the fridge itself. It is a phenomenon - and it is good! But it is just a starting point, not an ending point, for our giving. Our fridges need to be populated with other faces - the faces of missionaries. I reckon that for every sponsored child on our fridges we should aim at having at least one missionary face as well!