Hi Jack,I've been a ...

Shanelle asked:

Hi Jack,I've been a missionary for about 8 years now. I am single living in a foreign country. I've been on full support that whole time. I started out completely debt free prior to ministry but overtime things happened and bills accumulated as I worked in an office for the ministry and then finally moved overseas to work on the field with a church working on a campus. But since I have accumulated debt overtime and just consolidated to one amount. It's accumulated to almost $15000. I don't know what to do as in I'm trying to pay this off, but found out the payments is going to be $440 a month. Which on a missionaries salary you can't do that every month. It's upsetting as I really want to be a good stewart and make this right. I've never missed a payment on any of my bills in the past but I'm feeling that I might be able to make the payments. Can you suggest anything. Like a Christian consolidation, or anyone that helps out missionaries in foreign lands. I know that I'm still called to be in full-time ministry for awhile but this debt is proving to be somewhat of a strain on me now. Please any suggestions? I don't know what to do.Thank you!

Jack Answered:

Shanelle, your experience, unfortunately, is not uncommon among missionaries. You know the expression, "out of sight; out of mind." (The Colombians say it this way: "Eyes that don't see; heart doesn't feel.") Mission suppporters get busy and distracted, and if they don't see you or hear from their missionaries with some frequency they either forget about them or lose interest in their work. Sad, but true. It appears that this has happened to you.

The mission I worked with for many years had the policy that if we were undersupported we had to return to the States, visit our supporters, and bring our income up to date. I don't know what the policy of your mission is on this score, but since you are $15,000 down, something drastic has to happen.

Apart from returning home, you might try writing a note to the churches and individuals who support you, explaining your situation. The Lord might use this communication for some unexpectedly large gifts to arrive and bring up your income. Failing this, Shanelle, I'm afraid you will have to visit your supporters personally.

As for organizations that helps out missionaries in foreign lands, if there are any I don't know them! The agency you are with may loan you the money to return or give you different advice than what I am mentioning. I would certainly discuss the matter with them.

As you work through this issue, ask both your supervisors in your mission agency, your pastor, Christian friends and colleagues, and the Lord Himself what you should learn through this experience. For instance, you may need to up grade your communication pattern with your supporters. What is certain is that you can't keep on going like you are!

May the Lord guide you, Shanelle. Your life and ministry are precious to Him.

Jack

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