Should We Send Missionaries or Only Support Nationals?

Years ago I had a long conversation (and later much correspondence) with Bob Finley, Founder and Director of Christian Aid Mission, during a conference in Europe for evangelists.  I spent quite a bit of time with him discussing needy pastors in the Philippines and requesting support for them.

Bob said repeatedly that all missionaries, myself included, should “leave our ministries” in the Philippines, Asia, Africa, Europe, and all around the world, to get a job and simply support national workers.

I pleaded with him to understand that while his view may be appropriate in some situations, we could not ignore God’s Word and that most of his views were made from “experiences” that he had witnessed.

In his book “Reformation in Missions,” Bob does not include any true Biblical teaching on our responsibility to the Great Commission. Instead he gives many anti-missionary illustrations. He names leaders and quotes them out of context. All the examples I read in his book were exceptions, and although his assertions were true in some rare cases, they certainly were not true of the majority.

The book is racist and does not look on mankind as a whole.  It does not teach that all Christians are responsible for the whole world, but that we are only responsible for those who are geographically near with the same color of skin.   

On one occasion, Bob was asked to speak at the missions conference of a church pastored by a friend of mine. While the other missionaries were speaking, Bob showed contempt for their messages by lying down on a front pew of the church and pretending to be asleep.  This terrible , rude, non-Christian behavior is the exception, since not all who preach “support nationals only” would do such a thing. 

This illustration, however, seems to be quite typical of the actions and language of Bob Finley. The Word of God teaches us to be kind, considerate, understanding, compassionate, and respectful (Colossians 3).

As brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s work together.  If the elders and leaders of your church have a burden to send missionaries to Haiti, Philippines, Malawi, or Indonesia, then pray together and trust God for the funds to send those who are called. At the same time, we should be concerned about pastors and Christian workers in Haiti, Philippines, Malawi, or Indonesia who are not able to properly support their families and do ministry unless they receive funds from ministries such as Christian Aid Mission, Partners International, Gospel for Asia, ACTION, HeartCry, and many other ministries who support national workers.

We all are a church called to fulfill the great task of world evangelism by sending missionaries in obedience and supporting nationals.  So, let’s do it, brothers and sisters!