Tonight Robert Alderman spoke for the general session here at the conference. He was speaking on the need for greater personal involvement of the churches in their missionaries' lives. He challenged the current deputation system that we have where missionaries travel all over the country asking all different churches (most of whom don't have anyone they know at all) for money to support their ministry. In this system the personal knowledge of the churches and the missionaries is almost impossible. In addition to the ministry suffering, and a lack of accountability, the simple time and cost efficiency is positively impossible. Not only do the missionaries have to travel around initially, but then they must report back to all of those churches spread across America every 4-5 years to give a 40 min presentation that people may or may not remember and get involved in. The strain on the budget is not nearly as important as the strain on the missionaries and their families. Instead, he challenged pastors to consider a different system: that of training up missionaries from within their churches, commissioning them, and fully supporting them on the mission field. This has a number of benefits. The missionaries can get to the field 10 times as quickly, the church and the missionary have a close relationship that enables quality accountability and a close interest in each other's welfare, and the missionary has a higher quality network of support from the people that know them personally.
I have been thinking about this issue for several years. As a young female and inexperienced missionary, I did not feel it my place to speak out to pastors exhorting them to adopt this model of missionary support. Therefore, I have accepted as inevitable that I would be under this form of support raising myself. I have been commited to doing whatever it takes to get to the mission field and to enable the work that God has called me to. However, I grieve for the missionaries and their families that have been hurt and hindered by this model. Please don't get me wrong. I don't think that deputation is the sole reason for the casualty rate of missionaries, or that each missionary that does deputation is scarred for life and must endure the agonies every fulough there on. I'm also not saying that deputation doesn't have its benefits. Many missionaries have found it to be a time of growth and preparation for the field. The opportunity to bless others across the nation during your time of fundraising is indeed an honor. However, I do believe that the investment model is much closer to Biblical examples and is more effective.
Some might suspect that my feelings on the matter are motivated by self-interest and fear of deputation. Am I intimidated by the concept of deputation? Yes. Do I approach it with a slight sense of trepidation? Yes. However, I am also working to value it for the potential to reach out and minister to people I've never met. I know that it will be a time of growth and learning and I will embrace it with open arms. I will, however, continue to pray that the Lord changes the hearts and minds of pastors and mission committees around the world. I pray that He burdens their heart to embrace this new concept and approach to supporting missionaries. Whatever we do, I pray that it may all be to the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ!