Investment in Career Missionaries…Is It Cost Effective???
On a recent trip to China, we were privileged to visit a church where my father had ministered many, many years ago. One of the ladies thanked us for our visit. She and other believers were reminded that my parents had willingly given up their comfort, family and material wealth to come to China. She wrote in a note: “It was because of your parents’ obedience to God and willingness to endure difficult circumstances for the sake of sharing the gospel, that many in China now have eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
With all the talk today of the fiscal efficiency of Christian ministries, getting the most bang out of your buck, applying financial rating systems for Christian organizations, modeling analysis of Christian charities after those done for for-profit companies, the note from the Chinese lady keeps burning in my heart.
Let me tell you about my father. God led him to China in 1925. In a miraculous way, he met my mother. They were married in Shanghai. The first four years of their marriage they constantly fled from the communists as Mae Tse Tung chose the area where they lived for his famous “Long March.”
Each one of their three children was born in a different city or province. Three times they lost everything they had. They were interned for over five years and did not see their children for almost six years during World War II. The mission station my father built was burned down because the Japanese chose to use it as a warehouse for storing ammunition. Dad was taken away to be shot, accused of being a spy. Three days later, he was released by the grace of God. In twenty-five years of service with the former China Inland Mission, now OMF, he had one furlough.
What a wonderful opportunity to “cash in” on those experiences. Writing letters home about “suffering for Jesus”, making realities of conditions in China known so more of God’s people would be “touched to give.” But NO! Most of the above I, as his daughter, only learned about much, much later. Trials, suffering and difficulties to my father were only evidence of the importance of the task. He faced them calmly but with immovable determination.
When I asked dad about how many Chinese found the Lord under his ministry, he answered, “If I can count them on both hands, I am thankful.” He served his Lord faithfully, praying for China every day of his life, until God took him home.
Was my parent’s ministry in vain? Were resources wasted on keeping them in the field with so little results?
The words of our Chinese friend keep ringing in my ears: “Because of their obedience to God…many in China now have eternal life through Jesus Christ.” There are millions of believers now in China. In fact, no one knows how many. One quote is as high as 50 million. In every mission station where my parents served, there is a strong church. One of the men my father discipled became pastor of the Ningdu church and then his son was pastor. A Chinese church leader told us that in Jiangxi, the province where my parents worked, there are now more Christians than Buddhists. The ministry goes on. What a thrill as my oldest brother spoke in the same pulpit where dad preached so many years ago. The ministry my second brother has takes him into various seminaries in China twice a year for two weeks each, training future pastors in evangelism. My husband and I spoke in several churches and taught in one of the seminaries.
Yes, indeed it was worth my parents’ efforts, their faithful service to the Lord in spite of difficulties. God’s rating systems are different than man’s. He measures by different standards. As someone asked, “What is the bottom line when there is no bottom line?” The true questions is: “What is God’s bottom line?”