Why are missionaries leaving their posts in other countries? Which of these reasons are preventable? How can we care for missionaries so that Christ's commission to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel" may be accomplished? I hope to explore some of these questions in a couple of short blog posts, with great help from the research project conducted by WEC titled "ReMap" meaning 'Reducing Missionary Attrition Project' conducted in 1994 and later in 2003 ReMap II focusing on the U.S. as a sending country. William David Taylor compiled a book titled "Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition" copyright 1997 by the William Carey Library. Google books has a lot of this book available to read for free online. The ReMAP research project accomplished much by not only researching agencies from the Old Sending Countries (i.e. USA, UK, Germany, etc.) but also researching agencies from the New Sending Countries such as Brazil, Korea, Nigeria, and the Philippines, to name a few. Amongst the New Sending Countries, the number one and two reasons given for leaving the mission field were:
1. Lack of Home Support (the financial and prayer network)
2. Lack of Call (a clear call to missions from God)
This is in contrast to missionaries sent from Old Sending Countries which named these top reasons for attrition:
1. Normal Retirement
2. Children (e.g. education, adjustment issues, etc.)
[Too Valuable to Lose, pg.92-93]
Though the financial support question for missionaries from the Majority World is an obvious danger, missionaries from the U.S. can struggle, too, with making ends meet and providing the necessary support system to accomplish their work for the Kingdom. Missionaries may struggle whether to go to the doctor or not for serious health issues because they do not have the money necessary to go. They may have trouble with finding adequate transportation because of needed car repairs or lack of a car altogether. Others struggle with how to educate their children without the funds necessary to do so. I see two important solutions to these problems:
Clearly, the highest value for Taylor was that of trust in God, who can always be counted on. Ebenezer ("Hitherto hath the Lord helped us") and Jehovah jireh ("The Lord will provide") became his watchwords.
Through his entire ministry, Taylor's trust was tested in regard to financial support. Inspired by George Muller, he decided to avoid debt like the plague, and to make no appeal for funds except to God Himself. He was not averse to describing a need, but he resolutely let God inspire the giving and saw the blessing, with unexpected finances coming when most needed. "Money wrongly placed and money given from wrong motives are both to be greatly dreaded," he said. "Depend upon it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's sup plies." One time he noted, "We have twenty-five cents and all the promises of God."[Ed Gallagher, article "Hudson Taylor: the man God shaped for China," Ministry Journal, November 2005] We have seen this over and over again in our years of ministry. God will never forsake the righteous. He is always faithful.
2. Every effort must be made by the Church to send missionaries well-equipped and continue to support them in private and corporate prayer, through adequately funding their efforts, and by providing as much missionary care as possible. We must look beyond ourselves and look to God whose economy is not ours and from Whom all blessings flow, see where He is working, and become a part of obeying Christ's commission to "Go." As John Piper has so famously spoken, "Go, send, or disobey." May we store up treasures in heaven by supporting the teachers and preachers of the Gospel both here in our home country and abroad to preach the Gospel where Christ has never been named.