An article in Christianity Today (CT) caught my attention this week. It reported that the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptists are planning to cut between 600 and 800 missionaries and support staff from its payroll. Apparently it needs to do so in order to make up for a $21 million deficit for 2015, and which over the past 6 years, translates to spending approximately $210 million more than it brought in.
Now, please understand, I do not mean to be overly critical. However, running up a $21 million deficit through the first three-quarters of 2015 is bad enough, but with a $210 million deficit over the past six years, one would think that there would have been some red flags long ago. I can scarcely imagine the interest dollars attached to that kind of whopping debt! This is stewardship? How does one answer all the good people, many of whom no doubt have sacrificially contributed to this ministry, if they should happen to ask where their money is really going? It would be interesting to see what percentage of contributions actually makes it to the mission field as opposed to the banker's interest coffers. In all fairness the current president has only been in office one year, and kudos to him for doing something about the problem, but where was the past leadership? Dare I say what many are no doubt thinking; can you say, Mismanagement? (Ouch!)
Of course we're called to go into all the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28: 18-20), and Jesus himself told his disciples that the harvest is plentiful and to ask the Lord of the harvest for more workers (Matthew 9: 37-38), but with a debt like that, I cannot help thinking that the IMB ran ahead of God on this one. Did they really stop to first consider the cost?
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate to cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" (Jesus, as recorded in Luke 14: 28-30; NIV)Is that what's happened here? The foundation has certainly been laid, but it seems that it cannot be finished as planned. How sad, especially since it was all done with the good intentions of proclaiming the Gospel to the furthest ends of the earth.
The fact is, "the borrower is servant to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7), and since "no one can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24), for me it begs the question as to how much of a servant of Jesus Christ we really are if we are also servants to the financial institutions that carry our debt. Hmm. Maybe many of us also need to tighten the proverbial belt and consider some sort of "layoff" ourselves - layoff spending more than we earn, and "layoff" living above our means. Maybe in doing so we would also find ourselves that much more free to really be a servant of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
That's the way I see it anyway. Peace.
Story Source: Christianity Today
1st Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons
2nd Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons