Missions for the Future


Rev. Istifanus and Jemima Bahago serve in Sierra Leone as missionaries with the Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria. In many ways, Bahago is an example of the new type of indigenous church leader receiving support from Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM). He was born in Africa, received his call and training in Africa (partly under CRWM missionaries) and now works as a national leader and missionary in an African country.

Over the last few decades, CRWM has increasingly partnered with and given grants to leaders like Bahago. In addition to subsidizing evangelists’ salaries, the grants enable various leaders to receive further training for their roles. The grants also provide believers with Bibles, fund seminary scholarships, help provide Christian education for children, and much more. Through these efforts, CRWM deepens our ministry partners’ capacity for working in their own nations and beyond.

At the same time that CRWM is supporting grassroots efforts around the world, we remain convinced of the need to send North American missionaries. Christians in many countries are just starting to get a vision for applying God’s Word to life. Others are looking for Biblical training on leading effectively. Meanwhile, millions of people–most in predominately Muslim cultures–have yet to hear the Gospel.

CRWM is committed to sharing God’s Word worldwide. But to cover the cost of this work, CRWM has had to change our missionary support model.

The new model moves away from basing missionary support raising goals on a worldwide average to individualized budgets. These budgets, which don't include costs unique to families with children or those just beginning or completing their service, enable churches and individuals to know the direct costs of having missionaries in their ministry locations. As of July 1, 2013, CRWM career missionaries will see their support-raising goals gradually rise over several years to 90% of their individualized budgets. CRWM staff members, meanwhile, have redoubled their efforts to support and help missionaries reach their new support goals, through training, missionary support teams and the Johanna Veenstra Missionary Support Fund.  

The new goals will enable CRWM to maintain current ministry initiatives, replace retiring missionaries, and send out new missionaries in response to urgent needs. In this video (also shown below), missionary Michael Essenburg explains the new goals and how they will impact both missionaries and their supporters.  As they do now, Ministry Shares will cover a portion of CRWM’s missionary budgets and overall ministry initiatives, including grants to and training of indigenous leaders.

Through these missionary support changes, CRWM will be able to continue partnering with churches and leaders around the world to expand God’s Kingdom.


New Missionary Support Raising Paradigm from Christian Reformed Church on Vimeo.

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Steve van Zanen raises a very interesting point. The logical (possibly unintended) consequence of this model might be that when a church supports an idividual missionary it will deduct this support from it's Ministry Shares for WM so as not to support the same mission organization (WM) from two sides.

The other consequnce is that if a missionary raises more money than his/her budget needs who gets the surplus amount?

Last year I tried to have an amount designated for a specific missionary program to assist with some out reach ativities that the missionary had suggested to me. My approach was to FIRST ask WM to include that project as an amount in that missionaries budget for that purpose.  I was uncerimoniously turned down. Only WM knew the needs of the missionary.

Hi Harry,  If a missionary raises more than their full costs, the amount will be carried over to the next year.  This has not been a problem so far, but we hope.  Our budgets include projects that we are definitely committed to and which are financed on the same basis as career missionaries as well as those that are COI, conditional on income.  Sometimes missionaries also have side projects that don't fit in either of these categories.  I'm not sure what sort of project you are referencing.  Please email me at [email protected] and we can address this.

Shift of policy over "the last few decades."   As recently as 15 years ago some of us WMers were very firmly turned down on this (hiring/subidizing nationals) even while our ministry colleagues (CRWRC) were doing so.  Oh boy...  I guess we priced ourselves out of the market, and this shift looks to me like a market based decision.  There is a biblical one: equality!

Hi Lou, We have been providing grants to other organizations which in turn hire and pay people (which is what is happening with Rev. Bahago) for a long time, much longer than 15 years.  Of course, a much much larger piece of our ministry is training and equipping national leaders who are not depending on CRWM for their income at all.  CRWM is doing much more than sending career missionaries.  Some may lament that, but others are very glad that we are responding to a changing world by changing ourselves, changing in method but not in purpose.