I believe we have moved from a colonial era of mission into what I call 'national mission', where each nation is called to develop its own models of church. Often enough this will have to happen through people in every nation praying for themselves, shedding their own tears, incarnating the living Christ afresh within their own time and culture. If the West could then come and, in the spirit of 'crucified colonialism'--the opposite of imperialism and denominationalism--carefully pour some oil on this process, it would be wonderful.How, exactly, is one to "carefully pour some oil on this process?"
There is little doubt that countries like the USA and other developed Western nations have indeed been blessed by God. If we are truly One Body in Christ, shouldn't those parts of the Body who have more be willing to share liberally with those who have far less?
How might the West carefully pour some oil on the missions process so that it results in blessing and genuine Kingdom expansion?
1) Giving to the needs of the saints. In Acts and the Epistles we see this kind of sacrificial, liberal giving for fellow brethren going through hard times. The USA, and particularly the Church, has always been at the top of the list to help during a crisis both at home and around the world. At various times over the years, I have sent out prayer "SOS's" with the intent of illiciting prayer support for some of our fellow believers going through difficult trials. Occasionally we will receive love offerings to help these saints going through difficult moments. While this is not our intent in sharing these needs, the Lord has touched their heart to not only pray but give. We gladly help to channel these gifts for them. Being one-time gifts they do not create dependency; rather they have been the cause of much thanksgiving to the Father.
2) Matching what can be raised locally for various and sundry evangelistic and outreach projects. It is a terrible thing leading to dependency to simply provide the financial assistance to nationals and pay for everything. They will certainly let you do it, but it takes the blessing away from them of having to give from their own resources. An example of this is something we are currently dealing with. There is a particular discipleship course of study that we would like to use with the new believers. The price per book is $6. Few can afford this amount and if we charge $6/book very few will receive the benefit of this wonderful material. $3 is something that most could pay out over several weeks. They would cherish "their" book that they had bought. But someone has to pick up the remaining $3. This to me, is where a "bit of oil" from the outside might quietly be used to subsidize the cost of making disciples.
3) Independent, self-supporting ministries. Just as in the USA there are many charities and ministries that seek donors, overseas ministries likewise are in desperate need of financial support. I personally do not see the difference between a USA-based ministry asking for contributions and an international ministry doing so. Why is it OK to give to Focus on the Family (a great worthy ministry) but not Teleamigo or Camino de Salida, Dorcas, Clemencia, or any one of dozens of other struggling national Gospel ministries making a tremendous impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people and doing so on a shoe-string budget?
Any other ideas as to how oil might be poured upon international missions in such a way that it doesn't cause harm, but results in Kingdom growth and blessing to thousands?
DISCLAIMER: It is not my intention to use this post as a cloak to secretly petition funds for our work and ministry (as much as I would like to! :-). If anyone should write me back privately saying they would like to give to our work or any ministry mentioned above, I will write back instructions on how to make a donation to the IMB, or how to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Southern Baptist annual offering taken up for international missions. We encourage individuals to give to missions through their local churches as led by the Lord, and if a SBC church-- through the Cooperative Program and LMCO.