Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Crazy Idea

So I get all kinds of crazy ideas in my head and this idea keeps coming back to me often. It has to do with supporting missionaries. So many missionaries are under-supported (not us, Praise the Lord). The average for a missionary to raise support is around 4 years. That is a lot of time. So what is a way that we could raise more money for missionaries; or use the money we have wisely?
What if we supported missionaries the way some of us plan to support ourselves, or our kids going to college, or retirement? With real estate. I have written out a big dream plan using millions of dollars, but let's say that we start out small. One church or a couple churches could buy a foreclosed house or condominium. For a mission trip, church members could go to this house (that is actually in their area) and fix it up. The electricians, plumbers, real estate agents, painters, landlords etc... could all use their gifts and talents to fix up a house and to manage it while renting it out. The money received from renting could go towards supporting missions. So here is what the financial investment looks like: 50-60,000 to buy the home; 5-10,000 for materials to fix it up; free manual labor from church members; the return would be around 700 dollars a month (depending on the real estate prices in the area), so $8400 a year. Well before 10 years, the church would already have reached their initial investment, plus have that real estate value still. The church could have the option to sell the real estate at any time and possibly buy two pieces of property with what they make and do it again.
Churches could also go in on it together. For example, I have several supporting churches in certain towns that could get together and do mission trips together fixing up these houses.
So, I have told this idea to a few people and most of them think it too risky. What are some of you all's initial thoughts?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crossing Cultures

Since day one here I have known that there would be some interesting situations in ministering cross culturally. I with that it just touched my culture to Brazilian culture, but it even goes further than that. I have seen also that it is difficult to reach different cultures of Brazil at the same time. Right now, the missionary house that we live in is in a condominium development where the upper class lives. We have an electric fence around us for safety and a guard at the only entrance and exit. We are very safe inside from the crime ridden neighborhood all too close by outside. There is a vila (or favela, which is a poor neighborhood) that is close by. Vilas are dangerous places to be.
I play soccer with kids from the vila every Sunday. I look forward to it and really enjoy it. I am also friends with a lot of them. If I see them on the street, they say, "eh Americano" and we give each other the thumbs up. Then I have fun with them on the soccer field.
I am also friends with a bunch of our neighbors. I talk to them every once in a while, have eaten with them, played soccer with them at their club, and even visited with them at their relative's house. It has been neat getting to know them and even try to reach them.
But where the culture difference lies is between the both. Those in my neighborhood don't want me to let my friends from the vila inside the gates. They don't trust them at all. So how do you minister to them in a way that is humble, even though they are basically prohibited from coming in your house? (A couple of them came in once, but I heard that was a bad idea from my neighbors). It is an interesting situation because I want to minister to both of them, but if I do too much, one will not allow me to minister to the other. I know Jesus ministered to both and that is what is right, but must I first revise the entire Brazilian culture of social levels?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giving your all

I am doing a devo soon on this and would like any extra thoughts, ideas or additions.

Throughout high school, college, and afterwards I have always listed out my priorities in life. I always start with God at number one. For good reason right? In Scripture we are told to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Deuteronomy 6:5.

So He is #1 priority and then comes a list of family, church, work, sports, extra-curricular activities, etc… or at least that is how my list has always been. I think our motives are usually right in creating these lists, but I think something goes wrong in our thinking, well, at least my thinking. I put God first when it comes to time. In the morning, I get up and give the first part of my day to God in quiet time. But what happens after that? Or some of us will say if God is our # 1 priority, then we will give God the majority of our time. So we do our quiet times, prepare our sermons or lessons, do discipleship or training or sports evangelistic outreach. Especially as missionaries we need to put in our time for God because He is our # 1 priority. Then with finances we do the same thing. We give our first 10% to God, at least. Some may be grace givers and give more, say the 20 some percent that the Israelites gave once they totaled in all their offerings. Maybe we even give a majority of our money to show God is at #1 in our life.

Ok, so why am I talking about these priorities. If we give God 50% of our time, or 50% of our money, who does the rest belong to? Us, right. We can do with it as we please. Now of course that is not the case because it all belongs to God! We learned that in Sunday school. We did learn that, but how often do we use how much we are doing as an excuse for what else we are doing. For example, I was doing church activities all day, now it is me time. I can do what I want, etc…

In my youth group we once did a drama where Jesus came to someone’s house. The actress answered the door and said, oh hello Jesus, I was not expecting you, went and cleared the magazines off the end table, and returned and invited Him in. She told Him what rooms He was welcome in and what rooms she held the keys to. Too often we want to keep part of the house to ourselves and not allow God to have it. I think we make the excuse that we have given God a majority already, especially as missionaries. We have given God our lives to live in this foreign country, but have exempted ourselves from giving God our lives as we live on the field.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 says that we are not our own; we are bought with a price and are to glorify God in our body and our spirit, which are His.