Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Just Wanna Know

I’m struggling right now.  Someone I really admire, in a ministry I really believe in, seems to be losing his way.  Today I received an invitation to help support his work.  It outlines all the amazing and wonderful things he is accomplishing. 
Great, Kim, so what’s the problem?  I looked over the information, and there is no mention of God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit anywhere in it.  If I didn’t know the person, I would have no way of knowing it was a Christian organization.  And, that is troubling to me.
I know this is not the best time to be raising funds.  The US economy is still somewhat unstable and people have concerns about the rising cost of, well, pretty much everything, and insecurity about the situation in many parts of the world.  I also know raising support for ministry in out-of-the-way places, reaching out to populations which are despised and rejected by the despised and rejected is not easy. 
I know that any time we are asking someone to part with some of their hard-earned money, we need to find a connecting point.  We need to make a ‘case for support’ which touches the other person’s heart.  The whole ‘What’s in it for me?’ is a part of the process.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with helping someone see how a particular ministry intersects with their passions and focus.  When I talk with people about supporting my call to the D.R., I try to do this. 
But… is it okay to tailor things in such a way that the controversial parts are not mentioned?  In order to appeal to those with no religious affiliation, is it okay to not only focus on the ‘social’ part of my work, but to completely cut out any mention of Jesus? 
Perhaps this person is thinking that if he can get non-Christians to ‘plug in’ to the ministry, he will have opportunity later to share the ‘Who’ behind the work.  Perhaps things are dire enough that in order to continue the critical and important work, the Holy Spirit has given him peace about keeping Him out of the ask.  And, believe me, the work is important!  I don’t know. 
I remember hearing Steve Taylor, an amazing Christian songwriter and performer back in the 80’s.  He had a song called “I Just Wanna Know” which was about his career.  He said he prayed if he ever got to the point where the performing/music/lyrics were more about him than about Jesus, he would have the courage to quit. 
The chorus says, “I just wanna know, am I pulling people closer?  I just wanna be pulling them to You, I just wanna stay angry at the evil, I just wanna stay hungry for You.” 
I haven’t heard this song in more than 20 years, but the message has stuck with me.  If my ministry is successful, and lots of money comes in, and I am able to reach out in Jesus’ love with my work, isn’t that what matters?  If that means compromising a bit here in the U.S. so the work I do in the D.R. can bear fruit, isn’t that okay? 
Everything in me is shouting “NO!”  Through His suffering, crucifixion and death, Jesus claimed me.  Am I not to claim Him?   
Friends, if I need to be corrected, please reach out and correct me!  My judgmental side is definitely raising its ugly head.  I don’t want to be ‘self-righteous’ in this!  God has been providing for my ministry in huge ways, but I’m at the very beginning of things.  I am a ‘baby’ missionary who may just have stars in her eyes. 
I’ve been accused of being naïve and painting way too positive of a picture with no understanding of the reality of long-term mission work.  All of this is completely true.  It’s pretty easy to make these declarations when I’ve not been in the trenches. 
Yes, maybe I’m just naïve, and after a few years in missions I will realize that this is what needs to happen to continue the work.  But, maybe, just maybe, the naïve way is the way of the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

1 comment:

  1. I've recently been reading some of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, specifically Gladys Aylward and Amy Carmichael. One of the things that amazes me as I read about them is how they kept God and Christ so central to everything they did and everything they encountered. No matter what was going on around them- including no matter what different tactics missionaries around them were trying. I hear your concern and I have this concern about a lot of things I see- the way the church acts, the way friends and family's as if it's okay to live in AND of the world sometimes. And the Spirit tells me it's not. If we're not bowing down to Christ, we're bowing down to something else.

    I'd love to hear you talk about the difference between between being judgmental and identifying something amiss and speaking out about it. Both can come out of love, but how is the line drawn? I struggle with this, too.