Sunday, June 16, 2013

Giving to Missionaries

Many times we have the conversations with people on the topic of, "what can I do to help the global missions movement?"  This conversation came up often last year when we were visiting America or when we have visiting teams or our own personal visitors, and even over email.  People want to know how they can be a part of God's work outside of the walls of the States.

We most often respond with, "well if you don't want to or feel you can't move overseas then you need to give."  From our point of view there seems to be this desire to 'volunteer your time' or 'give back' but not for longer than a few days, weeks, or maybe months.  Well in reality you need longer than 3 months to build relationships and really be a part of the ministry.  So if moving overseas isn't your thing, then we would say give, and give generously, and give with a full and thankful heart.

There are statistics out there that only 10% of the church's tithing goes to global missions, and out of that 6% goes to Africa, so that leaves all of Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Central and South America fighting for the remaining 4% of the givings that come out of America. That's tough.

The other shocking number is that the average missionary spends 20-25% of their time trying to raise enough money so that they don't have to leave the country just because they couldn't pay their bills. And then they go and spend 100% of their time in their ministry. That's tough.

So if you are wondering how you can be a part of global missions, or you desire to see Christ known throughout the world we would say there are two options.

Go! Move! Become a missionary. It is a rich and rewarding life.  It is full of adventure, stress, joy, pain, humor, and sorrow.  We would leap for joy at the thought of more people going into the field when they feel called to do so.


Give! Give to a long-term missionary who is living in the "real deal, everyday, time and life consuming commitment of being overseas."  Allow them to escape and pay for their vacation out of their host country, pay for their aircon for a year without question, buy them a plane ticket home so they can see their family, pay for their gas in their car, or better yet help them buy a car when they can't on their current support.

I read this quote the other day on another missions blog, and found it extremely true. "But the truth is most mission fields are like wild fires, burning out of control and consuming everything in their path.  We come in with a passion in our hearts for the lost, but instead often our entire lives are consumed in the flames."  Now this quote is from one missionary speaking to a group of others living overseas to encourage them in how they feel in their ministries, but it helps give an idea of how a lot of missionaries feel.  It might just help you better understand your friend, family, or co-worker that is serving as a missionary.

As we have said to many of you, we couldn't thank you enough for allowing us to live in Cambodia as long as we felt called to be here.  We thank you for allowing us to stay there, and we thank you for partnering with us in our time in Cambodia.

Monday, June 10, 2013

What We Have Learned in Missions

If this whole missionary thing has taught me one thing, it is that this life is full of insane juxtapositions.  I have one life of working with Khmer and Vietnamese staff and the students who have to be on a payment plan to pay the annual school fee of $2.50 to be in our catch-up schools, and then I run home to eat my hamburger that was cooked by our house help while we watch the newest (or new to us) episode of Modern Family and enjoy a bottle of wine.

I live one life in English, where I am able to express myself fully, share my thoughts, and laugh and tell jokes with friends...and another in Khmer, where I sound like an idiot, and if it weren't for my pale white skin people might think I have totally lost it through some form of brain damage.

I read the Bible and believe in God's promises...and then walk past the lepers of our world wondering if they also could believe those same promises if they were to hear about them.

I believe in the redemption of Christ and want to give up everything to follow him...and I still want to buy the newest pair of heels I saw in the store the other day, and go watch a CU football game.

But I have learned that this life of following Christ is full of these crazy things that seem like opposites, but when put side-by-side I see how they mysteriously fit together. 

Kinda like how sin and complete grace fit, or the joy in knowing the suffering make a perfect match. They somehow work.

We have learned that if we are willing, then God moves powerfully.  If we are only willing to try, only willing to give our time, only willing to give our money, only willing to love those who have never seen love before, then God will create great influence in and through us.  That in being obedient to His call of "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" then we get a glimpse into what heaven is like...even here in the broken world of earth.

Heidi Baker, a missionary from many many years ago said, "Us as believers need to go 'Go Low, and go slow.' By going low, we need to be more humble.  By going slow, we need to really slow down and take time to love people." 

My hope is that we have learned how to embody that more.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

One last bike distribution.

The staff and women from Precious Women Cambodia
On Tuesday I was able to distribute bikes one last time before leaving Cambodia. Leanne, our friend Kristi and myself picked-up and delivered 13 bikes to a ministry called Precious Women which reaches out to former prostitutes and helps them get vocational training.

As we passed out the bikes, talked to the women and prayed for their new training we struck by the reality of our situation. These were 13 prostitutes, some trafficked and some who entered the profession willingly and they were all seeking a new direction. They were working hard to transform their world into something new and something positive after years of harsh reality. We were so proud of them and it was a wonderful time together.

I think that so often people ask Leanne and I about our programs, our funding needs and our ministries. We answer questions about what we do and how we do it but I have come to a conclusion about missions abroad or at home. Very little of or programs have to do with anything else than providing opportunity and dignity to the recipients.

Cambodia Bike Project is not really about the pedals or chains, it is not about transportation or about logistics. It is really a program that provides Cambodians with a possession that they can call their own and and chance to go somewhere new, it provides opportunity and dignity.

CBP is amazing, Prek Pneu is amazing and what missionaries do in Cambodia is amazing because the work is not about numbers, budget, alter calls or Facebook likes, it is about giving people the opportunity to feel like the belong, like they are worth something and that they can be someone.

It has been an opportunity to be a part of CBP because we have seen almost 200 people receive a bike that they can be proud of and a chance to go to school, work or training so they can have skills that give them dignity that we all deserve.

Our distribution on Tuesday reminded me that it is not about the program it is about the people and CBP has been a program that has allowed Leanne and I to touch the lives of a lot of people who we would never cross paths with. We gave them something and they gave us a lot in return.

Another photo with the women, Chris is the tall man in the back in case you could not immediately spot him.