More Missionaries Please

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As the Placement Advisor for Canada, I am sometimes asked how I got this job helping Canadians find their place in global mission. The most simple and honest answer is that I applied. . . and got the job. However, the route I took here was not direct.

A few years into living in a remote west coast community, I found myself seeking solutions to an internal growing distress to the cultural disparity I saw around me. Shortly after completing a counselling diploma addressing remote community needs, I inquired about working with a local mission that helped families in difficult circumstances and landed a role that gave me the title of ‘missionary.’

Working as an independent missionary was not easy. Living at a remote mission base and on-call 24/7, there were many aspects to the missionary life that I was not prepared for including fundraising for my living expenses, finding a work/family/ministry balance, and maintaining church connections—all while working with a challenging demographic. There were times I would seek advice on my situation from my extended family and their befuddled response usually sounded something like ‘that’s not how we do mission in the CRC.’ Six years into it, almost completely disillusioned with mission and ministry, I was ready for something different. I found myself looking to Christian Reformed World Missions (now Resonate Global Mission) for new opportunities.

Please do not read this as a dis to other mission organizations; there are wonderful mission organizations and agencies doing amazing things around the world. It's up to each individual to do their homework on mission agencies, but my experience of landing with Resonate Global Mission has been an assuring and impactful one. In Resonate I see a team of dedicated people looking to make a difference throughout the world in a healthy and sustainable way. There is a care from the CRC to look after their missionaries and ensure they are equipped for work that affirms and supports all people and cultures.

Now a year into this role, I can’t help but laugh as I remember my first week on the job. As I learned about the training, emotional care, and church connecting provided, I teared up multiple times at the thoughtfulness towards those with a heart to share Jesus’ love. Setting out into the world with God’s Word has always been, and will always be, challenging. In fact, Jesus lays it out, “if they persecute me, they’ll persecute you also” (John 15:20). Knowing this, how invaluable to have a backing team, supportive churches, and a platform of care and commitment to finding better ways to show God’s love to our neighbours around the world.

Will you join us in praying for more missionaries as Resonate Global Mission moves ahead with learning together how to best join in God’s world-wide mission? There are many opportunities to engage in meaningful work within Resonate networks and partnerships. Call us to explore available opportunities or visit our website at www.resonateglobalmission.org/go.

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Community Builder

Appreciate this story and the positive outcome. I do wonder though, with the issue of  World missionaries having to fund themselves for 90%  of their expenses and salary, what your thoughts were about that requirement. You did not mention you are now a foreign (or should we say "World") missionary.  Funding themselves is what missionaries outside North America have to do, so I assume in the new  Resonate World Missions organization that rule would apply to all who call themselves "missionaries".

Community Builder

Harry, 

This is something that Synod upheld 3 years ago, you can see that here:

Synod Upholds Missionary Support-Raising Policy

This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions, additionally, churches and individuals have been incredibly generous and a number of our missionaries have exceeded their funding goals and the majority are meeting or very close to meeting their goals. 

Church Planters in North America have always had support-raising as part of their ministry and Resonate continues to support their work through grants. 

I would encourage you to read a book that we share with our missionaries when they are first appointed, A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen. 

To quote Nouwen: "Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, “Please, could you help us out because lately it’s been hard.” Rather, we are declaring, “We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you — your energy, your prayers, and your money"

We at Resonate are excited about what God is doing in this world and want all people to become involved, whether it be by serving themselves or supporting those who are serving.

Thank you for your passion for missions.

Community Builder

"This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions". This is an interesting way of putting this. The policy caused an historic number of open (meaning unfilled) positions? The CRCNA now seems to have three different employment standards depending who the person works for. The Resonate "missionary" in x foreign country is on the 90% standard. The BTGMI person in Russia in on the "try and raise money" but pay is guaranteed standard. The Church Planter in North America is on a strict salary standard.  The latter may work for/be supervised by Resonate, Classis or a local congregation. But they certainly do not have a 90% rule.

IMHO there is something not quite right with this picture.

Community Builder

Open, meaning the number of positions that we have available. Under previous funding models, we were not able to have as many missionaries on staff. Under the new model, we are able to have more missionaries. 

But you are entitled to your opinion, even if it defers from the decisions of Synod. In the end, our goal is to see people involved in God’s mission in whatever way they feel called.

The redoubtable Mr. Boesenkool does not need my support for his spot on analysis but here it is anyway.

I have heard from a missionary that I have supported of the heavy burden the 90% rule imposes.  It delayed their entry to the mission field by over a year and continued to drain from their "in-the-field" effectiveness. This despite's the "alternative facts" euphemisms put out.  Consider this thought experiment: how well would denominational headquarters run if every position had to operate under the 90% rule?  It would allow for many more open positions, wouldn't it, to serve many more needs?

Community Builder

Bernard,

You are free to disagree with the decisions of Synod and you raise all of the same points that were discussed 4 years ago. For further information, I would direct you to the 2014 Acts of Synod starting at Page 456 and the final decision on page 551.

Thank you.

Community Builder

I appreciate this conversation and the care indicated in not wanting to overburden the missionary.  Reading your response is evidence again of the care for missionaries in this denomination.  This ongoing conversation is a good one to ensure that we are doing the right thing.  It is a fairly standard practice among mission agencies for missionaries to have to fund-raise their wages, which I believe should be looked at critically. What other employment exists that has to justify their work and pay with such scrutiny? However, this is the way it has always been done to some degree, so I invite you to dream with me of other ways to keep our missionaries sufficiently supported.

What I allude to in my story is the heavier burden of going on the mission field without sufficient support.  Having to approach churches and maintain relationships ensures a level of engagement and investment in the people doing the mission work that can easily get forgotten or dismissed when it is not present in need and/or urgency… “out of sight, out of mind”.  Churches want to invest in people and get to know them – to have this support come from personal conviction and connection is what keeps it alive and real.

In some ways, the real issue here is the perception of what the fundraising represents.  I think it does not represent the deficiency of the missionary, but rather the opportunity for church involvement.  Churches and individuals have the opportunity to invest at least 90% (but hopefully 100%) in the work being done around the globe of furthering the hope we find in Jesus!  

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