As Marinajo and I prepare to go to Honduras, we believe that we will have expenses that we will need help with associated with the ministry that we are trying to perform. We will continue to look to God as the provider of our needs and we recognize (like everyone) that there will be times that certain needs will remain unmet. Dave will continue to work (although less) at the computer business that I’ve had (along with my Partner Dave) since August of 2005. There will be times when this income isn’t enough. Since we will occasionally be publishing our needs in our newsletter, I wanted to look into the scriptures and try and devise a biblical approach on how we are to ask for, and receive, giving. Please read over it before you give anything to us. Please let me know if you have any questions or additions to what I’ve written below.

We don’t have to look far in the New Testament to find an example of missionaries being sent out. In Matthew 10, we see our Lord Jesus sending out his first missionaries. When Jesus Himself sends out missionaries and tells them how they should act, then we who call ourselves missionaries had better sit up and pay attention. When Jesus sent out the twelve, he told them “freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Jesus seems to be setting up a strict prohibition against charging for the things that they were sent to do – preaching, healing, and deliverance. At the same time, he also told them not to take provisions for their journey “for the worker is worthy of his keep” (Matthew 10:10). So it seems clear to me that we are specifically told not to charge for the gifts that God would have us impart to others through our ministry, but that we are also to “eat what is set before us” and to gratefully accept gifts and provisions that are given to us during the time of our ministry.

Paul also provides several examples of how he handled money. It is clear that during his time, especially in Corinth, many preached for monetary gain. This is a clear violation of the rules that Jesus set forth as described in the paragraph above and a practice that still goes on today. In trying to combat these false teachers, Paul and Barnabas adopted an even more radical stance towards money, as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 9. First Paul establishes his right to receive support from the church that he has planted, and then proceeds to describe why he will not take what he has a right to take. The only giving that Paul encourages is for the Corinthians to “set aside an amount in keeping with their income” for the needs of the church in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16: 1-4).

Lastly, Paul had a special relationship with the church in Philippi related to matters of giving. He describes their envoy, Epaphroditus, as their “messenger of his needs” (Philippians 2:25). They alone were burdened for Paul’s needs and they sent him aid time and time again in his time of need (Pillippians 4: 15-16). It appears that Epaphroditus traveled back and forth between the Philippian church and Paul’s various locations, both making the need known and then returning with aid for Paul. What an amazing model for the church today. What if every missionary that was supported by a church had a “messenger of needs” that kept up with them and served as a conduit for both the reporting of needs, and then the delivery of aid back to the ministry? What if one page newsletter with pictures and Christian sound bites” weren’t the primary means for communicating our needs as missionaries out to the world, but rather a relationship with devoted people, like Epaphroditus who almost died in service of attending to Paul’s needs? We certainly wouldn’t be able to support as many ministries as we do today in the church, but we could certainly support them better. May God continue to grow His church up I Him so that we find the right balance in these things!

What does this mean for us as we begin our missionary journey? A couple of things:

1) Like Paul, I too have a tent making business (only this time it is a computer business) that will provide many of our needs while in Honduras. I can (and should, we believe) work about ½ time (3-4 hours a day) while in Honduras and God will meet many of our needs this way.

2) There will be needs that will not be met by the tent making business. We will put these needs before people, via newsletter and blog, and pray that the Lord will meet them by placing a burden on the hearts of people to give. We will rejoice when the needs are met and we will be content when the needs are not met. We will make our needs known, but we will look to God as the provider, not our supporters. If you choose to support us, we will eat what is set before us with glad and grateful hearts, fully knowing that God will at times stretch us with needs that remain unmet.

Principles of giving:
• All of our resources belong to God and are “on loan” to us, and we will be held accountable with what we do with them. (Matthew 25:14-28)

• Profiting from any type of ministry activity is wrong. Provisions and gifts that are offered freely and not under compulsion are to be gratefully received. Eat what is set before you.

• Never give out of compulsion or emotional manipulation.
o 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times; having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9: 6-8)

• Do not “drop nickels into other people’s dreams” (This term comes from John Piper). First determine if God is calling you to the mission field or you to use your money directly for some purpose. (Mark 6:37). If the answer seems no, then determine who or how God is directing you to help. Never let your support of another become a substitution for you following God’s direction yourself.
o Give yourselves first to God, and then to us in keeping with God’s will (2 Corinthians 8:5)

• Give in accordance with your income. While the “Widow’s mite” has a specific and compelling meaning in the Kingdom of God, Paul’s direction as to the amount to give is very clear that it is to be in keeping with your income. (2 Corinthians 8: 11-12)

• Be careful before committing to giving over a specific time period, and then be careful to finish what you started. Paul exhorts us in 2 Corithians 8:10-11
o 10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

• God blesses the giver. This simple truth has been perverted so many times and so many ways to compel people to give. Yet, it remains the simple truth of God. Paul spoke of giving being “credited to your account” (Philippians 4:17). He also spoke of the giver being blessed with abundance. While we should never give in order to get (more in return) – we cannot ignore the promises of scripture towards those who give sacrificially.
o 18I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4)