In my post last Friday, I stated my opinion that the best way to help the poor and unreached in far away places is to send money.
I don’t want to minimize the importance of hands-on ministry—how being personally involved is so much better than merely throwing money at a problem. We have so much to teach one another, and the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives as we share our lives with others.
But we also need to reach out across political boundaries, languages, and cultures. Sometimes the only practical way to do this is to “just” send money.
While giving money is certainly easier most of the time, the tangible rewards are not as obvious. We don’t get the same emotional high or the satisfaction of seeing how we have helped. That can be difficult. We’ve become a society expecting immediate gratification, or at least the sense that we’re relevant, that what we did matters. Faithfully giving to an overseas organization year after year doesn’t necessarily make us feel better.
We need to remember that it’s not about our feelings. We’ll get our reward—in heaven.
I’ve mentioned how most charitable giving stays right here in the States—how out of every dollar, only two cents finds its way overseas, and less than one penny goes to sharing Jesus with those who currently have no way to hear about him.
Now think about what would happen to those statistics if we all limit ourselves to only working with local ministries. Yeah. It would get worse.
We’ve all seen the photos of starving children in other parts of the world. Our hearts are broken, yet most of us don’t have the resources to hop a plane for Africa, South America or Asia. Even if we did, is that the best way to help? There are ministries who do good work in providing relief and development. They know the languages. They know the cultures. They are right in the middle of each unique situation. They work to alleviate suffering now and discover long range solutions.
Maybe in these cases the best choice really is to “throw money at the problem.”
This is why we “sponsor” two children overseas. We’ve been doing this since we were newlyweds, 31 years ago. Over time, “our” children have come and gone… Hilda, Kavithamalar, Valentina, Geethani, Babi, Emman… we will probably never meet them this side of heaven. We don’t even know if we’ll find them there! But at least we know they have a chance at life—and a chance to know God.
I appreciate the organizations that allow you exchange letters with your sponsored child or missionary. That gives you the opportunity to have some personal interaction. However, letters have their limits. We have to be careful not to talk about anything they would perceive as material wealth. We read the reports and look at the photos, but we really don’t have a clear picture of what life is like in the slums of Rio or the dumps of Manila. Age becomes a barrier too—one of the girls we support is currently three years old.
Sending our monthly support doesn’t seem like a very big deal, even when our finances are as stretched as they are now. I’d love to do more. I usually don’t even tell people we do this, as we don’t want to sound super spiritual or generous. We’re not. We’re just ordinary followers of Jesus. We’ve seen his heart for widows and orphans and the poor. Have you?
There are many organizations with “sponsor a child” programs. In many cases, you can also sponsor an indigenous missionary or pastor. We have personal connections with these and confidently recommend them to you:
Gospel for Asia
Children’s Hope Chest