Will you spoil the native missionary by supporting him with American money?
The first thing we need to understand is that there is no such thing as American money. It is all God’s money. If we are prosperous in America, it is so that we might wisely use what God has given us for the advancement of His Kingdom. Secondly, the support given to the indigenous missionaries is adjusted according to the average income of the population. For example, if the average income in a country is $150 a month, then that is the support given to a missionary serving in that country. The support provides no luxuries, but gives enough economic freedom so that the missionary might work full-time in the ministry. Finally, we do not hire men so that they might begin working in the mission field; rather, we support men who have already given themselves to the work and would continue whether they received outside help or not.
Are cross-cultural missionaries still needed on the mission field?
Absolutely! The indigenous missionary strategy does not eliminate the need for cross-cultural missionaries. This is not an either/or but a both/and situation. We are not arguing for a moratorium on North American and Western European missionaries but fully recognize the need for thousands more on the field! We are simply stating that the indigenous missionary strategy is equally viable; and, in some cases, it is a more effective missionary method.
How can a native missionary be as qualified as the American missionaries with a university or seminary education?
That depends on what you consider the qualifications to be. Do you measure a man of God by a diploma from a university; or by biblical knowledge, godliness, the Spirit’s power, and zeal? Throughout the world there are indigenous missionaries of whom the world is not worthy. We know of men who have stood for hours and preached while being mocked and beaten and having goat urine poured on their heads. They preached until their persecutors grew tired, sat down, and listened! We know of men who look like toothless, sandal-footed beggars, and yet they have started ten or fifteen churches. One of the greatest examples of the truly qualified missionary was Angel Colmenares of Peru. He was an indigenous missionary who was used of God in a movement that left hundreds of churches in its wake. Several years ago, Paul Washer asked a Christian filmmaker to accompany Angel and him to a Bible conference among the mountain people of the Northern Andes Mountains. The filmmaker accepted, even though he was scheduled to travel to Brazil to attend a conference that was purported to be one of the greatest gatherings of missionary minds and strategists in the history of South America. Before traveling to the mountains, the filmmaker accompanied Angel as he walked through a garbage dump looking for a discarded car battery that he hoped to use to power his microphone for open-air preaching. The filmmaker later remarked, “I was scheduled to go to the greatest gathering of missionary minds and strategists in the history of South America, but here I was walking around in a garbage dump with this little beggar of a man who has started more churches than all those mission experts put together!”
Why don’t the churches in these countries support their own missionaries?
This is a good question. The ultimate goal is always that the churches in a given country send and support their own missionaries; but many countries have been devastated by famine, war, and years of political corruption. The Christians in these countries often suffer unbelievable poverty and sacrifice to preach the Gospel and plant churches. The support from the outside simply helps them with this task. At this moment, in countless countries around the world, there are multitudes of men and women who work 16-hour days to feed their families, while often earning less than $100 a month. When they are not working, many of them are preaching the Gospel and planting churches. The outside support enables them to invest those 16 hours in the Lord’s work instead of in a factory!