SHARING RESOURCES AND THE GOOD NEWS AMERICA’S RICHES We Americans have so much money and possessions. Many families have more than one car and a TV set in every room. We have all the food we can eat and most of us have never starved a single day of our life for lack of money. Our closets and drawers are stuffed with clothes that we will seldom or never wear. In our old age or when we die, they will be thrown away or given to The Salvation Army. We spend all kinds of money and time on games, gadgets and hobbies and we buy many things we don’t really need. We throw away computers like yesterday’s dirty paper plates. At the same time, we have become rebellious, disobedient and selfish. We fail to realize that God has prospered American Christians so that we can help support the spreading of the Gospel in poor countries and not to just allow us to live extravagantly while other members of the body of Christ struggle to survive.
In America, we waste so much money on ourselves. My kids treated my wife and I to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for our anniversary. It cost $75 per person. I weep to think about it now. Each of us could have sponsored two missionaries for one month, or one missionary for two months. We could have helped save at least a hundred souls.
In the Philippines, you often see kids walking around on crooked legs or with arms grotesquely bent. The family could not afford a doctor to straighten broken limbs. The rest of their life they are consigned to disfigurement. Young girls in their teens are missing all their front teeth because they cannot afford a dentist; while in America, we pay thousands for plastic surgery or to straighten our teeth so we can be more beautiful. The majority of Filipinos have never ever been to a dentist.
This is not to say that we should support every poor Christian. We’re talking about supporting the work of God.
POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES AND ELSEWHERE Many of our Christian brethren in Third World countries (Some call it the Two-Thirds countries because 2/3rds of the world live in poverty.) have virtually nothing. But they are more zealous and obedient than most Americans will ever be. Numerous Christian brothers and sisters in Two-Thirds countries are willing to risk their lives to obey Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to all nations and all peoples. They strive to take the gospel to people in their own country, but they have no money or resources with which to do it.
Many in their teens and early twenties in the Philippines are willing to risk much and sacrifice their life to take the gospel of salvation to tribal peoples that never heard of Jesus even once. In America, many TV channels and radio stations talk about Jesus all day. Should not the gospel be taken to people who haven’t heard of Jesus even once? How can we allow them to fall into hell without hearing the gospel of salvation?
Most pastors are starving in the Philippines. In more remote provinces, the future of many pastors is in a sow that they hope will give birth to a litter of at least eight piglets once a year. I once witnessed a pastor practically crying as he praised God when his sow gave birth to twelve piglets. The litter represented most of his spending money for the year. With it he could send his three daughters to school and buy books and new uniforms. Many pastors are skinny as a rail because they often go on forced fasts. At this very moment, countless pastors and their families live in tiny make-shift huts of bamboo and thatch. Some live among the squatters in plywood shacks that fly away several times a year because of the many typhoons that hit the Philippines. There is no plumbing or electricity. Occasionally, the wind blows a curtain too close to a lighted candle and entire blocks are burnt down. Hundreds are killed or injured.
I once asked students during a farewell service before graduation at a two-year Bible college in Lal-lo, Philippines to share their experiences of the last two years. The first two related how they often had nothing to eat for three days and the pastor had to call a fast. Somehow, the Lord would provide each time. They had to borrow each other’s tooth brush and comb because some didn’t have any. The girls often had only three dresses and the boys only two trousers and three T-shirts. They went barefoot. Some nights were so hot under the corrugated iron roofs in their make-shift dormitories that they slept out on the grass. One boy went through the entire two years of training without owning a Bible. My wife gave him her Bible during commencement exercises. The second student cried so hard that the remaining three could not stop their sobbing. They covered their faces and ran off the stage. The audience wept. The students ranged from 18 to 20 years of age. Each one is a missionary or pastor today.
TOILETS AND FLOORS Missionaries and pastors in the Philippines do not live in luxury. They often sleep on dirt floors or on bamboo floors or beds or wherever they can. There are usually no screens on the windows and no frieze board to stop bugs from coming in under the ceiling. Large black, hairy spiders often crawl along walls and floor. One pastor friend insisted that my wife and I sleep in his bedroom while his family slept in a storage closet. When I woke up to use the toilet, he was sleeping on the dining room table.
I’ve slept on church floors, benches and chairs in the Philippines and the cockroaches were flying and diving like bomber squadrons. It was funny to find that even the natives scream and duck when cockroaches fill the air. Since the windows had no screens, mosquitoes kept you up all night. Mice ran back and forth on the floor. Not long ago, our head pastor in the Philippines found a mouse up his pants in the middle of the night as he slept on the dirt floor. Toilets (comfort rooms) are most-often located in the yard and often have no doors. Flushing toilets are rare and are mostly a hole in the ground or a bare cement toilet bowl. You have to bring a bucket of water to flush the bowl. Even the natives gag sometimes.
At night, candles and flashlights often provide the only light. Some toilets consisted of holes in the sand that you had to dig in the middle of the night and mark with a large rock. The next day, we would proclaim, “Oh, that’s my rock!” as we walked by. I recall being in a Bible class under coconut trees while surrounded by armed soldiers looking for NPA (Communist National People’s Army). In Lal-lo, after an evening service, I was walking along the road when a group of uniformed armed men walked by. I smiled and waved at them and they waved back. After they passed us, my host whispered, “Those are communists! They’ve been killing people around here!” I was wondering why everyone in our party was so quiet.
AMERICA’S SHAME I was visiting a missionary in the Philippines from West Germany back in the late 1980‘s. I’ve lost track of him but his name was Ulrich. He had been a missionary since nineteen years of age and was then in his mid-fifties. He said to me, “Richard, when I was nineteen, I had hair on my head and Americans provided 90% of the missionaries around the world. They also gave 90% of the mission money. Today, they only provide 5%. What are you guys doing in America - building castles?” Sadly, I had to nod Yes.
Some churches in America spend millions upon millions of dollars on a church building and on entertaining their members, but very little or nothing to spread the gospel around the world. I know that revival is more than just money. It’s going to take much prayer, repentance, battling the powers of darkness, and crying out to God. But, when revival/harvest starts it will take money to spread the gospel. God knows that. Perhaps that is why the Lord is trying to wake us up!
The Philippines is filled with frustrated pastors and church workers who had to quit the ministry for lack of money. We pay our staff members well at our mission house ($25US a month in addition to food and a place to sleep). Food in the city costs about $45US per person per month and perhaps $25US or less in the countryside. Many are willing to go to remote areas for $50US a month total, which includes food, clothing and housing. Those who have churches closer to urban centers need about $80US a month.
THE FISH ARE BITING IN THE PHILIPPINES! Whenever we give neighborhood crusade meetings in the Philippines, almost the entire audience run up to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If there are a hundred, all will accept Jesus; if there are five hundred, all five hundred will accept Jesus except those already Christian. People cheer and run up front as miraculous healings take place all the time. The Holy Spirit convicts and many weep their way into heaven. Cancers disappear, hunchbacks straighten up, the blind see, the deaf hear and the dumb speak! Waitresses, taxi drivers, people on the street, in shopping malls, money changers, sales clerks, tricycle drivers, come to the Lord so quickly! The heavens are open in the Philippines and the fish are biting, but the laborers are few. The idea that every day hundreds die and go to hell without once hearing about Jesus haunts me.
We could probably plant at least ten churches a month right now. We know of many pastors willing to go anywhere to plant a church, but we cannot afford to pay them and the congregations are poor.
The fish are biting in the Philippines, and there are a lot of fishermen, but not enough nets, bait, hooks, sinkers, boats, poles and money to pay for more fishermen. On the other hand, there is so much money and resources in America to buy all the nets, bait, hooks, sinkers, boats and poles needed to fish in America; but the fish are not biting.
OUR LOVE The apostle Paul talked about helping the poorer brethren. In 2 Corinthians 8, he spoke of how the richer brethren in Corinth blessed the poorer brethren in Macedonia. Paul pointed out that the saints in Corinth were rich in everything and needed to abound in grace also. “Therefore, as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace.” 2 Co. 8:7. The saints in America have much from God. Miracles and knowledge abound and diligence as well; but now we need to show our grace and love for the brethren that are in need in Two Thirds countries. Yet, it is not so that they can live better; it is so that they can be our hands, feet, eyes, ears and mouth in spreading the gospel.
We need to give with a willing mind and heart, not just because God commands it. “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.“ 2 Co. 8:8. Otherwise, we will lose our reward. One can obey out of fear or self-promotion. Here, Paul seeks genuine concern and love for the brethren and a willing heart to help those brethren in need.
NOT TO ENRICH OTHERS’ LIVES The saints in Macedonia did not expect that the saints in Corinth give to the point where those in Corinth will suffer and those in Macedonia will have it easy. “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Co. 8:12. Have a willingness of mind to help, then give what you can afford. It must be out of love.
Church fundraising is not a modern phenomenon. The early Christians in Jerusalem sold their land and possessions and gave it all to the apostles. Ac. 2:44-45. But, when that ran out, they were in dire straits, and Paul started a fundraising project.
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. 1 Co. 16:1-4. (underlining added)
From the above, we find that each one was required to give. Secondly, the amounts given were determined by the individual, based on his abundance or “as he may prosper.” Also - 2 Co. 9:7. Thirdly, one should set aside a weekly amount (“on the first day of the week”). Give God what is valuable, not what is left after we fulfill our own wants and continue to live luxuriously. Fourthly, trustworthy men were given charge of overseeing the funds. Ac. 6:2-3. Lastly, the church is required to complete the project or remember the commitment they made and follow through with it. 2 Co. 8:11.
OUT OF YOUR ABUNDANCE It is not expected that you make yourself poor so others can be rich. It is out of your abundance that you give. “For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want; that there may be equality.” 2 Co. 8:13-15 (underlining added). What a beautiful statement! Please read it again.
YOUR WANT OR NEED WILL BE PROVIDED The brethren in the Philippines have a need for funds so that they can go out and win souls for Christ. They are not trying to have a better life. By providing the brethren in the Philippines with funds out of your abundance, they, in turn, will supply your want out of their abundance. What is your abundance? It is money and possessions. What is their abundance? Their abundance is souls.
Their want is funds with which to save souls. What is your need or want? It is obedience to Jesus in preaching the gospel of salvation to all nations and peoples. American Christians have a great need to obey God and participate in soul-winning. Your want or need is souls. You will receive credit in heaven for every soul saved by the ones you sponsor. There will be an equality. The poor workers in the Philippines will have funds with which to save souls and you will share in the credit for the souls they save. That is the equality and unity we American Christians need.
Certainly, every person has a different definition of abundance. Some women think they need a hundred pairs of shoes or hats. Some men think they need a new set of golf clubs every year and a new car every three years. Do you really need that expensive desert? Do you really need that new dress, shirt or shoes? Do you really need to eat at that expensive restaurant? Can you wait to buy a new set of tennis rackets or golf clubs or computer or stereo or extra DVD player or game? How about skipping a few meals a week? After all, most Americans are overweight. We waste so much food. I asked one visitor from the Philippines what impressed her the most about America. She answered, “Food. There’s so much food in America and they give so much. People waste so much food. Back home, we eat everything and still don’t have enough. Parents starve so the kids can have more food.” Do you really need a TV in every room? Another said, “Showers. Back home we bathe very quickly because we cannot afford to waste water. In America, people bathe a long time and waste so much water and electricity.” In the Philippines, a bath usually consists of a bucket of cold water.
UNITY IN THE BODY According to the apostle Paul, the receiving of the gifts of money and other items were “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” V. 4. There is a fellowshipping and unity of the body of Christ when Christians in a poor area are blessed by Christians in a more prosperous area. It is a show of love, oneness and integrity. V. 8.
In America, we give lip service to unity in the body of Christ. We think that unity means that we have the same doctrines and come together every once in while to have some joint service or maybe pray together. But the real unity is when we are jointly fitted together to do the Lord’s work. What will same doctrines and getting together once in a while for pot-luck services do to save souls? Everything else is just window dressing and false pretenses. Reality is that we in America need to support the brethren in the Philippines and other Third World countries who are doing the work of the kingdom of God. We will be equally rewarded. Now, that’s unity! Eternity in hell is a long time. If you truly care about saving souls, let God touch your heart.
Let someone else be your eyes, ears, hands and feet to take the gospel to the nations. They are willing to suffer in your place and sacrifice because you cared enough to sponsor them.
What is $50 a month or $80? Will it impoverish you to give? No. It will enrich you with souls. I guarantee you that every one of us will stand before God one day and be judged on how many souls we helped save from hell. American Christians who do not participate in soul-winning are impoverished in that area. As Jesus said,
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor and naked, and blind. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the same of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. Rev. 2:17-18.
A missionary receiving $80 a month will not loll in luxury. He will pinch pennies so that he can reach many more for Jesus. As we pinch pennies to provide for a missionary, he pinches his pennies to make it through. Eighty dollars a month is bare minimum for a missionary too. It’s not easy for a native Filipino to leave family, career and friends either. He may be living in a remote area or sleeping on a dirt floor for you. You are one in the Lord with him. Creature comforts will be bare minimum. Even toilet paper will be a luxury. But he will be saving souls for you. It is an opportunity to help in the harvest. God blessed us so that we can help our Christian brothers and sisters in poorer lands preach the gospel in our place.
SPONSORSHIP We have attached a sponsorship form for you to fill out, if God is moving on your heart to participate in helping sponsor a pastor, worker, student, missionary or church spread the gospel. The amount is up to you. If you participate, we will let you choose a person or organization to sponsor by sending you a brief biography and perhaps a photo of several workers that need sponsorship. Otherwise, we will choose one for you. From time to time we will send you information on how the work is going with that person or organization. We do not encourage direct contact between sponsor and the person receiving help. We will send you a certificate of donation at the end of the calendar year for tax purposes. Thank-you and God bless you!
(detach here and mail or deliver)
LIGHT OF THE WORLD MISSIONS
1316 Kaumualii Street, 2nd Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Phone: (808) 845-4162
FAX: (808) 845-4163
SPONSOR INFORMATION Yes, I want to share out of my abundance and participate in saving souls in the Philippines.
City ________________________________ State:____________ Zip code: _______________ E-mail address (if any): ________________________________
Preference as to who you want to sponsor: Pastor: _____; Church: ______; Bible College Student: ______; Missionary: _______; Other: _________________________________.
Monthly amount pledged: $____________.
Please write all checks or money orders to Light of the World Missions (Honolulu, Hawaii). We agree that all funds you donate to the sponsorship program will go to the person or entity sponsored by you and will not be used for any other purpose without your permission.
We will give you a certified total of all of your donations at the beginning of the next calendar year for your tax purposes.
Please notify us of any change in address or information.
Thank-you very much for your desire and willingness to help promote the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.