I lead short term mission teams into northeastern Brazil in support of the work that Gospel for Brazil has established there. It would be easy to say that they are a waste of time and money. Yet, I not only organize and lead them on a regular basis, I encourage them in a zealous manner.
My previous post noted the first reason of three. Here are the other two:
Second, there is “Encouragement.” New Christians who have no other role models in their milieu can be given a dramatic boost in their walk by observing a foreigner who loves Jesus. The native missionary and pastor gather strength from these visitors who lavish their love, attention and support on them. Both Christian and leader discover that they are part of a bigger picture, that they are not alone and isolated and that other Christians sincerely care about them, their struggles and their victories.
As with the value of enlightenment, I could relate story after story of how the “gringo” visitor was a blessing to the local church because of the encouragement they brought. One particular example might serve to illustrate the point. The initial pastor in Ubaúna was feeling quite isolated in his role. Literally in the middle of nowhere with no resources, the visit by an American pastor on a short term trip so encouraged this brother that he commented to me recently, “When I discovered that pastor Jeff has to deal with some of the same challenges I am facing and when he said he was covering me with pray, I knew that the impossible had become possible.”
There is no amount of money that can buy that!
Third, there is the “Advertisement” value. Some might call this a type of mercenary activity; I wouldn’t disagree. I don’t understand why that is a bad thing.
Here’s what it translates into: a visiting American Christian sees the work in the host country, goes home and begins broadcasting to everyone what is taking place. As a result, new funding, resources and spiritual support are made available to the work in the host country. The visiting American paid for his trip with his own funds and, as a result, became a walking billboard for the advancement of the Kingdom in another country. The work benefits and did nothing to generate it.
I’ll take that all day long!