During difficult economic times, it is inevitable for missionaries to feel the tight times, too. Whether it is loss of support or inflation of costs on the field, these types of challenges will and do come. Currently, the reality of sacrifice among believers for missionaries has become more evident. Instead of giving up luxury items in order to supply the need, some people have been giving up part of their necessities, such as food. With these sacrifices in mind, the missionary should also “bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Here are some practical considerations before buying tickets for an emergency furlough.
- Get rid of cable TV. The joy of hearing English in your foreign country is not worth it in light of the joyful sacrifice by believers in churches back in America. Much of the content on cable television is not worth watching anyway. Need the news or weather? You can spend a fraction of the time finding the needed information on the internet (unless you cannot get dial-up from you grass hut, which cable TV would not be a problem, either). Regardless of the economic situation, cable TV would be a good thing to get rid of anyway.
- Get rid of an extra vehicle. This may or may not even be an option, depending on your situation. If you have a vehicle for ministry and one for personal use, consider the option of consolidating them. The extra cost of upkeep, insurance, and gasoline can really add up.
- Use public transportation. Depending on which country you live in, public transportation may be very affordable. Though not as convenient as using your own transportation, this is possibly a worthy consideration if it will keep you on the field serving Christ until your next scheduled furlough.
- Cut back on utilities. If you lived in America and had a secular job, you would probably be considerate of wasting resources. Teach your family to turn the water off when not in use. Keep your AC or heating use on a level of necessity rather than a level of desire. Turn lights off when not in the room. These are subtle but easy ways to help cut your costs.
- Eat at home rather than eating out. A family with two small children can eat for about $10 per day. Try eating out for just one meal at that price. Sit down and figure out how much you are spending each month eating at restaurants, and you may be surprised what you are spending. Set a budget on eating out and stick by it.
- Don’t buy it. Don’t buy what? Anything that you don’t need. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The money you have is not yours. It is God’s. Does God want you to buy it? We are only stewards.
- Save the surplus rather than spending it. If there happens to be an extra financial gift that is given, save it for what is needed rather than spending it on what is not. A friend of mine from college was always nervous if some extra money showed up in his mail that was unexpected. Experience taught him that God was usually providing for a need that would about to come, not giving him some extra money to carelessly spend.
- Shorten frequency of furloughs. If you are used to coming back every two years, pray about extending your furloughs to every three or four years.
- Do it yourself. There are things in life that really cost less to have someone else do. If you will end up paying double to have someone fix what you attempted to do, it was probably best to not do it yourself. For things that you can do yourself, do it or delegate it to a family member that can. Once again, the little things add up.
Paul sacrificed his own time, work, and even money for his missionary work, why should we expect any less for missionaries today. There are missionaries all over this world who are sacrificing and struggling to make it by. These may need to come back for an emergency furlough to raise more support. For those not in that situation, the above thoughts may be worth some consideration. If you have any further ideas or suggestions, feel free to give feedback.