Do people actually read all the way through a missionary's prayer/newsletter? I've often wondered if people enjoy our letters, slog through them from a sense of duty, ignore them altogether, or what. Allen and I are concerned that our current letter is a more difficult read than usual. In this letter, we desire to communicate to our supporters how we try to use donated funds as efficiently as we can. This is super important to us, and we believe it is of great interest to our donors - but that doesn't necessarily translate into an interesting letter.
I've decided to post some parts of the letter on the blog, in a series of posts. If you don't receive our letter, this will fill you in a bit as to how we handle some of our ministry work. If you do receive the letter I apologize for the duplication.
After a preliminary greeting, here's the first part of the letter:
2011 has been a difficult year for many, and we have seen this reflected on the mission field. More and more often, we are seeing missionaries having to leave the field due to lack of funding. Although we continue to trust God to provide, sometimes He chooses to allow times of hardship. Often the times of hardship are also opportunities for great spiritual growth. In Honduras, hardship has been a way of life since long before we came to live here, and the spread of the life-changing Good News and the work of church planting in the poverty-stricken mountains of western Honduras has continued to advance at an amazing pace, even reaching into the most remote villages of the Lenca Indian people. As long as God allows, we hope to continue to live here and help with this work.
During hard financial times, everyone learns the importance of stretching a dollar. Our family has made the frugal and efficient use of funds, in our home and ministry, a high priority. In this letter, we want to highlight some of the ways we try to make the best use of every donated dollar. This is important to us, and we know that it’s important to you, too.
One of the ways we’ve found to use money most efficiently is to recognize what we do best, and to allow – and empower – the Honduran Christians to do what they can do better than we can. For instance, running a feeding center is something that we are able to do, but your average Honduran pastor can do it better. He can more easily teach and mentor the people of his community. He can muster the resources of his local church for volunteers to help in finding a suitable location, setting things up, cooking and cleaning up, getting the word out to the poor of his village, etc. He can present a Bible lesson which is relevant to the lives of the people in that place, using language that is accessible to them. He can maintain a day-to-day relationship with the families involved in the feeding program. What a typical pastor in our area lacks is not the desire to serve others in this way, but the financial resources to purchase the necessary food. That, of course, is where our part comes in. By partnering with donors in the US, and dealing with the hassles and expense of paperwork, international communications, accountability back to the donors, etc., we can import a container of highly nourishing food, and oversee the distribution of this food to a network of pastors who then run over a hundred feeding programs in widely scattered locations throughout a large part of western Honduras.
There. Now you probably know more than you knew before about how we run feeding centers. The picture at the top of this post is a pastor picking up food for his center. Below are photos of a feeding center in action - first a Bible lesson, then a meal.
Next post: how to build more churches with fewer dollars.