Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Missionaries or More Millionaires?

Arthur S. DeMoss began his life working as a bookie. He owned three Cadillacs by age 24. A year later, DeMoss turned his life over to God and said, "'I'm gonna give my life to full-time Christian service." 

It was asked of De Moss if he was going to be a missionary and leave the life of business. He said, "Oh, no. We have enough missionaries. We need people who will make a huge amount of money to support missionaries.'" DeMoss then proceeded to turn a home based company into one of the largest health insurance companies in the country.  At the time of his death at age 53, his estate was estimated at 350 million dollars.  DeMoss stayed true to his word to support missionaries (His politics aside). Over half of his estate was used to support ministries like Prison Fellowship, Samaritan's Purse, Bibles for Little Ones, and Africa Ministries.   I guess he became what he wanted to be; a Christian Millionaire.  

      It's common in developing world missions for presenters to use pictures like the one below in blogs (I've done it), newsletters, powerpoint presentations, etc to make a point.   

But I wonder what is that point?  Is it that we live in a sinful and often corrupt world where too many people are stricken by poverty, sickness, despair, and hunger?  Or is the point that poverty, sickness, despair, and hunger exist because there is an income discrepancy between you (the reader) and those you are gazing upon? 

I think guilt as a motivation to giving for missions is probably highly effective in the short term.  We are all swayed by our emotions after seeing breathtaking photos of little ones in dirty clothes, no shoes, and sad faces.  And it produces tremendous responses to disasters the likes of Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti.  And there is probably something to righteous guilt...something inside you (Holy Spirit) pressing you that there are wrongs that need to change and you have the financial wherewithal to do something.  
But in the long term using guilt and emotive pictures is a questionable tactic for many reasons.  First, God desires of us a generous, happy, and content giver; not a grumpy, reluctant, skeptical giver.  Second, we can never give away enough to make the poor rich (we can't and shouldn't try to make African groups in to middle class Americans).  Third, earning legitimate money should not bring about guilt.      

So, while I would disagree with De Moss that we have enough missionaries (there are still far too many sick, unreached, and poor). I wholeheartedly agree that we need more people "who make a huge amount of money to support missionaries."  And people who are talented, content, driven, and lead to do as such.  

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