The Deputation Trail of the Missionary
Daniel Scott Jr.
Opportunity or Responsibility
When sufficiently satisfied that his calling has produced a burden, the potential missionary will file an application for appointment by the Foreign Missions Board. Recommendations from the home district have provided credibility as to his faithfulness as a minister and an interview by a member of the Foreign Missions Board provides a positive report. He is ready to meet the Board for his appointment as a missionary.
The interview by the Foreign Missions Board (the members of this Board are appointed from a broad spectrum of the fellowship and serve without remuneration) will be forthright and prayerful. The members of the Foreign Missions Board will determine the feasibility of granting an appointment to the potential missionary family.
After the appointment process, a schedule for deputation travel is prepared. Another responsibility is the preparation of visas and government papers that will provide legality to live in the country of his calling. A commitment must be made by our Foreign Missions Division to the secular government where the missionary will be residing that he and his family will be financially provided for once he is on the field. Legally, he cannot seek employment or receive finances from the field to augment his financial support. As long as the missionary remains a resident of that country, this pledge remains in effect.
This means he must have sufficient finances on deposit, or monthly pledges for future deposits in order that a monthly allotment can be drawn from that account for the duration of his term. The only way this can be made possible is to travel from church to church to raise a proposed budget. This is the step called deputation.
The projected budget is created through a complex plan. There is housing, monthly living expenses, travel to oversee the work, automobile expense, and the cost of evangelism on the field that must be considered. The missionary budget varies from country to country according to the cost of living index. Because the missionary is not experienced in these matters, members of the Foreign Missions Administrative Committee give expert advice, and these factors are woven into the proposed budget. The duration of the missionary’s deputation schedule depends upon his ability to transmit his burden and the local church’s decision to buy into the burden by a commitment in the form of a monthly financial pledge. This is called Partners In Missions!
Once he is on the field, the missionary must have created a faithful list of partners or he is in serious problem. An anticipated percentage is built into his budget to offset an unavoidable shortfall on the part of his committed partners. This will guarantee that the finances will be there when he needs them. If the monthly support base created through deputation is not forthcoming for any reason, the missionary will suffer tremendously. Because of this, every financial commitment is made with a serious decision on the part of the constituency to continue through the missionary’s term.
The travel expense to perform the missionary’s task of evangelism such as gasoline, oil changes, and normal repairs for the Sheaves for Christ automobile, is a necessary part of his budget. These expenses go along with driving an automobile anywhere in the world. So it is not surprising that a missionary must incorporate them into his anticipated budget. He must visit the many contacts he will continuously receive as he serves the field. Sometimes the trips are long and difficult. Here again, the success of his work may be determined by a solid financial base to do the job properly. It is imperative that every opportunity be explored and evaluated.
There is only one way to establish a successful missionary budget, and that is to create the necessary list of faithful partners who will pledge a monthly commitment to the Foreign Missions Division for deposit into the missionary’s account.
To say that a missionary has to raise his own support while on deputation is a misnomer. This is not the sole purpose of deputation! While this is indeed a task that demands the very best from a missionary, the most productive purpose for deputation is to expose a burden, and to become acquainted with those who will be sacrificially providing for his ministry in the region beyond. It is imperative that the missionary becomes a living person instead of a mere name.
How long does it take for a missionary to raise his budget? Again, that depends upon the missionary and his ability to convey the burden of world evangelism. The church must remember that the responsibility of the commission is not a personal one for the missionary. It is the job of the total church to evangelize the world. A good mentality to create is that the missionary is a representative of every local assembly of the United Pentecostal Church International to his field of labor. The congregation is a participant in the missionary’s action. That is why the program is called Partners In Missions. The missionary and the church become united in accomplishing the task of world evangelism.
The length of deputation also depends upon the attitude of the church. The missionary’s visit to the church is not to be considered as a burden for the church; it should be enjoyed as a privilege. The missionary and his family will share a burden, but in so doing he is communicating to the local congregation that he is willing to forego his personal goals as a successful stateside minister, to accept the responsibilities of the regions beyond. He was not a misfit in the ministry but most likely a productive pastor dearly loved by a local congregation. His District Board recommended him or the Foreign Missions Board would never have considered him for appointment. The only difference between the missionary and the local pastor is that God called the missionary to perform the specific task of going into strange customs and culture to evangelize the lost in that area of the world. Many times he is the only hope for an entire nation!
Therefore, should the church merely extend the missionary a courtesy? Or, should the church treat the missionary as a special guest, and if at all possible provide him with a commitment to assist him financially? After all, he is going in the church’s stead to do the work of world evangelism.
The length of deputation travel also depends upon the missionary’s attitude. The missionary must remember that it is his responsibility to interconnect the local assembly with his calling. They are potential partners with him in evangelism. The missionary must not promote himself or just his burden, but he must project his field in such a manner that the congregation will feel they are a necessary part of his endeavor. If the need of the field is presented in a positive and enthusiastic manner and if financially able, the church will buy into his plan!
When the missionary on deputation considers the raising of his missionary support as the purpose of deputation, it will become a distasteful responsibility. As a result, he will convey the wrong message. He will begin to feel he should not have to appeal for funds, since after all he was willing to give up his own personal agenda to represent the gospel to the people who have yet to hear. It is the total church’s responsibility to evangelize the world, so why should he be reduced to the image of a beggar appealing for funds? Good thought. It is indeed difficult for the local church members to understand the tremendous emotional drain that goes along with a missionary’s responsibility to gain sufficient partners to underwrite his calling. As a general rule, people understand a burden for evangelism, but they do not understand an appeal for personal support even though the desire to serve as a missionary is admirable.
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference! A partnership is the better approach, and an attitude that includes the church in a plan that transmits that partnership thrills the normal believer. Therefore, the missionary should communicate an enthusiastic opportunity for the church to actually be a part of the missionary’s world evangelism program. A congregation will buy into that kind of bold vision. The missionary should also convey that time is of essence and he must get his family settled on the field as soon as possible; the lost are waiting to be evangelized.
When an increasing number of churches respond and have become a part of the missionary’s ministry, he has made the people feel they will be a part of his accomplishments. As a result, deputation responsibility ceases to be a burden. It becomes a ministry! A new attitude on the part of the missionary has projected enthusiasm and the cause of evangelizing the lost of God’s world has been represented. The missionary has not only represented his calling but he has ministered to the local assembly that they can have a personal involvement in the Great Commission.
Another benefit for the people feeling themselves a part of the missionary’s ministry is that a close friendship is created that will bond the missionary and the congregation as partners in world evangelism. This bonding will continue to energize the congregation long after the excitement of the missionary service has been forgotten and they will remain committed to the program as long as the missionary is on the field. They have become Partners In Missions!
It is true that sometimes as he makes his appeals for funds, the missionary appears to the normal individual as a beggar. Let us address that appearance. Are missionaries beggars? That depends on the angle from which the local congregation views world evangelism. Missionaries are representatives of the church as it applies to world evangelism. They are representing not only their mission and their calling, but world evangelism in general! It is the responsibility of the missionary to connect the people with the commission; after all, it is the combined efforts of the local assembly and the missionary that will effectuate world evangelism. Remember it is the lost of God’s world that is at stake, not a benefit for personal gain. Therefore, if missionaries are considered as beggars by the church, a distorted view has been created. The positive perspective is that missions is God’s work, and the church is fulfilling its responsibility through the local congregation’s financial contribution to the missionary that God has designated to perform it.
Please allow an exposure of both sides of the coin and let us arrive at an acceptable solution for this important subject. Sometimes a lengthy deputation travel itinerary is created by the negative attitude of the missionary. At times this is created by the lack of knowledge the church has of missionary purpose, or upon whom rests the vital responsibility of world evangelism. Let us begin with the missionary.
The missionary has received a call to leave a secure future as the pastor of a local church. He keenly feels the emotion of departing from a people who love him, and who have financially cared for he and his family. Now he is filled with enthusiasm for the new task God has chosen for him. He understands the financial benefits will not match what he has been used to. However, he has not chosen to leave the congregation but rather he has accepted a divine call to follow God’s will and purpose. He has chosen to respond to the call of God.
While on deputation there are times he feels like he is begging for his own support. He develops an attitude that he is promoting himself in order to gain the support he needs for his calling. And the longer he remains on deputation and the more visits he makes without gleaning a commitment, the less enthusiasm he can expose to another congregation. He begins to feel as though his deputation is a money-raising junket rather than a privilege to participate in the divine plan to evangelize the world.
Raising his own support is a real challenge to the self-esteem of a missionary! The attitude can deteriorate into a sense of rejection. If raising support for a missionary tour is distasteful either to the missionary or to the congregation, there is a problem.
The missionary must keep before him the fact that the call of God has directed his activity. He must remember deputation is a wonderful way to form a partnership with the many congregations who will become partners in prayer. This exposure is more important than obtaining financial commitments. When the attitude is to create a partnership, usually the congregation is impacted and if not financially capable to take on another partner at the moment, they will remember him when that time presents itself. In essence he is not raising his support; he is creating a financial base for evangelism in the field of his calling. In this there is a vast difference.
The United Pentecostal Church has a long history of commitment to Foreign Missions. Much of the success in sending missionaries to so many nations of the world can be accredited to the Foreign Missions Division’s two step financial program. First, there is the Faith Promise service that produces the financial base in the local church. This finance multiplies with the faithful fulfillment of the monthly faith promise pledges. This creates the financial base from which the local assembly is able to project a local world mission program. Many times there are opportunities in which they can be involved in other areas of world missions, such as the approved projects of Bible school training for developing national ministers, building a mission church, or any one of the many needs that go along with the missions program. The second step is that from the local church’s financial base, commitments are made to the Partners In Missions program when a missionary family visits the church, or missionaries are added to the monthly statement. The Faith Promise commitments made by the membership insure the missionary account of the church for the annual expectation of missionary involvement. It also provides for a personal offering to assist the missionary in his deputation travel (missionaries do not receive personal support from the Foreign Mission Division during deputation). Faith Promise enables the congregation to maintain a Partner in Missions’ commitment for the missionary’s monthly support once he is on the field.
If our system is right, we need to encourage all of our churches to become involved. Missions are the responsibility of every believer. If it is wrong, we must seek out a new answer to fulfill the commission. God has not given an option in the matter, but a responsibility. And world missions is a pleasure to enjoy, not a commitment to endure.
I do not believe it is the lack of funds that is affecting the world evangelism program but rather the lack of a proper perception in dealing with world missions. In a visit to some of our churches, the missionary feels that he is a beggar standing with his hand extended rather than a representative of God’s purpose and calling. There are funds available, but we need to find the proper path to tap into them. Our people drive fine automobiles and wear fine clothing. Their homes are fit with the most modem conveniences and vacation homes are abundant. I am convinced communication is the real problem. Proper priorities need to be established in the minds of our people!
WORLD MISSIONS: Let’s face the issue head on. Whose responsibility is it? Are all of us properly woven into the fabric of the commission to take the gospel to the whole world? Has every member been given the proper opportunity to be involved as an intimate partner in missions or been taught to give sacrificially to accomplish it? Every member of every church should eventually become a faithful supporter of the missions program. It should be taught that Foreign Missions giving should become a priority second only to tithing of personal income. If this was practiced throughout the fellowship, world missions would literally explode around the globe.
God has called for men to leave secure positions to follow a call to a particular mission field. In biblical times, Peter, James, and John were directed to leave their fishing, Matthew his tax collection business, and others whatever profession they were involved in. Today He calls for the secure pastor, evangelist, teacher, or minister of music to leave that activity and follow Him into another part of the vineyard. These called men are excited about being a part of a special activity God has directed them to perform. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the missionary to obey God’s calling. With proper exposure, the local pastor understands that he and his church are a part of the program. The program is complete when the missionary has accepted the call and the local church provides sufficiently to send him.
I would advise the missionary to never lose sight of his calling. When he visits a local assembly he must sell the program and not his person. The visit to the local assembly is to develop a long-term interest on the part of the church to establish an intercessory prayer program for he and his family. It is an ineffective missionary who enters his field of labor without the prayerful support of friends.
He has been called by God to perform and God will undergird that calling with adequate finances to fulfill it. This attitude will be able to inspire men to invest in his vision. A positive attitude will gain him lasting friendships that will be a rich and spiritual benefit to the work he represents. There is no substitute for friends who really care. The missionary will need these things far more than monthly financial support. It is during this period of deputation that God provides him with the circle of friends who will hold him before God on a daily basis.
The article “The Deputation Trail of the Missionary� written by Daniel Scott Jr., was excerpted from A Divine Partnership, 2000.