This week has been without a doubt one of the most amazing of my life. I am currently in India, spending time with the staff and 76 orphans at the Azlynn Noelle Children’s Home. We have laughed together, cried together and spent many hours planning for the future. I have sat down in a leprosy colony discussing our partnership and how we can do more to help those suffering from that awful disease. I have held 2 little girls whose parents died of AIDS and I loved them in spite of the virus that the girls also carry. I have been able to tell all of these precious children just how much Jesus loves them and that His love is one that will never forsake them. And then I woke up to this:
“Our church feels that your focus has changed from that which was presented here years ago and we have many other missionary endeavors that God is leading us to pursue. We have sent our final check for the remainder of 2016. We do wish you God’s continued blessings on the work.”
And just like that, the pastor had dropped us.
This wasn’t the first letter I have received like this and I am sure it won’t be the last. Here is what I would like to say to the pastor looking to drop us though…
1. Our focus has changed and we will continue to adapt to the needs and opportunities God places in our lives.
While our focus may change, our mission has not and will not. Our goal is still and always will be to share the Gospel to the unreached, to start churches, train leaders and show the love of Christ to every single person that we possibly can.
2. If you are looking for a reason to drop us, you will find it.
We will never agree on every single thing. You will see something at some point that will upset you. We are human. There will be pictures of me in shorts…because it gets hot in India and Cuba. There will be drums and dancing because that is a major part of other cultures. I will have a beard, quite simply because I want one. This stuff might sound silly to some, but all of the things above are reasons pastors gave for not giving to our ministry anymore. Yeah..seriously.
3. Understand that you really don’t have a clue.
I spent 11 years on staff at a local church. I saw the videos, took the missionaries out to eat and occasionally read the updates that came in from around the world. Looking back, I had no idea what each of these missionaries faced on a daily basis and in reality you do not either. I have been in missions for one year and my mind has been blown at some of the experiences I have faced. Plans can be made but “Plan A-D usually get thrown out pretty quickly. World politics, local governments, weather, family, currency exchange, war, disease and more all impact what we do on a daily basis. Sometimes our focus HAS to change.
To the pastors, churches and individuals that continue to support us in spite of our mistakes, failures and shortcomings…Thank You. You will never know just how encouraging you are to our families and just how much that encouragement is needed at times. We do not take you for granted and are honored that we can partner together to spread the Gospel across the world. Jesus promised us that He would be the same yesterday, today and forever. He didn’t say however that our methods for spreading the Gospel were to be as well. Right now we are in Cuba, India and the Dominican Republic…but that may change. There are refugees that need to be saved, war torn countries that need the love of Christ and many persecuted Christians that need our support. God may change our focus to these places in the future and I pray that you will join us as we seek to glorify Him in all that we do. That is my single greatest goal every single day…I just happen to wear shorts and have a beard.
Assistant Director of Rooftop Missions
*Nothing that I will ever write will be without mistakes and this blog post is no different. After receiving feedback, here are a few things I would like to clear up.
1. The picture is not of a baptism. I was helping our orphans with their showers. Things aren’t always how you perceive them to be.
2. I believe that churches can support whoever they want to. My issue is when a pastor feels like his standards are God’s standards. Dropping a missionary is a big deal and the reasons should be biblical and clearly communicated to the missionary or organization. Someone with a pastor’s heart will cherish this opportunity to help someone grow, not ignore their calls after sending them a letter.
3. Pastors do have a “clue” about missions, just not a full understanding. I tried to use myself as an example here hoping that you would see where I was coming from…many of you missed the point.