The greatest difficulty we have always faced and always will face in foreign fields is that of money. By comparison to most countries around the world (such as Africa, South America, India, the Philippines, etc.), America is an extremely wealthy nation. Even in times of recess we outshine most of the world in terms of wealth and luxury. The poorest of poor in this country represents the middle class of many other nations, and even our poor have the hope of escaping poverty through hard work and education. Contrast this picture of wealth and hope with that of nations where people are truly poor, starving, and do not have any hope of education or escaping the poverty into which they were born.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord spent considerable time dealing with the temptations that come through wealth. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus warns against putting one’s trust in wealth and the spiritual difficulties that come with wealth (churches in America need to pay attention to these verses). Then, in Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus warns against the temptations that come with poverty. The temptations of poverty are just as real and just as dangerous as the temptations of wealth, if not more so. Consider carefully the following:
When was the last time you went without eating for two or three days because you couldn’t afford to eat? When was the last time you had to go without shoes so that one of your children could have shoes to wear? When was the last time you saw nakedness due to poverty rather than nakedness due to rebellion?
We have become such a blessed society that we have completely forgotten the concept of poverty and the temptations that come with it. When we are occasionally reminded of how difficult life is in some nations, we are usually struck with an overwhelming sense of guilt and want to throw money at the situation to provide a Band-Aid effect. Instead of truly helping people, we tend to make things worse by making people dependent, turning them into beggars, and introducing them to jealousy.
There are three points I want my readers to consider:
First, Facebook is a social media site; it is not a foreign mission field. As such, we need to consider whether the social aspect is beneficial for foreign brethren or not.
Accepting friend requests from people in third world countries has a far more adverse effect than it does a positive one.
I am not suggesting that we should not communicate with our brethren around the world, but I am suggesting that we do so in a way in which we are not placing a stumbling block in their path. Rather than offering spiritual encouragement through “friendships” on Facebook, more times than not we are offering tremendous temptation. Remember the words of Paul:
1 Corinthians 8:9,
“But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.”
On an almost daily basis I either hear or see brethren from foreign countries begging for money on Facebook. Why are they begging American whom they have never met rather than their own brethren? Because when they look at our lives they see wealth and do not understand why we are not sharing the wealth with them. Begging for money through social media networks has become a real issue and will only get worse the flatter the world becomes.
Second, I am not suggesting we refuse to help our brethren in foreign countries, but I am suggesting we learn how to help them rather than hurt them. Giving money to poor people is not the answer to poverty. If governments and nations cannot remedy the issues of poverty, the Lord’s Church is certainly not capable of alleviating the financial needs of the poor.
Furthermore, eliminating poverty is not the mission of the church. The mission of the Church is to preach the gospel. What foreign countries need to see is the power of the gospel, not the wealth of America.
Jesus taught that reliance in God, as the key to necessities in life, is an issue of faith.
“Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Are we teaching brethren to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first and foremost above everything else in their lives? Or, are we teaching them to consider the church if the church will take care of their needs first? God’s promise is that He will take care of those who put His kingdom first; his promise was not to feed the hungry of the world through the church.
God also promised to take care of the necessities of life, not to provide luxury. Facebook is causing brethren to beg for matters of luxury, not necessity. To illustrate this point, consider the fact that the brethren who are asking for money on Facebook either own a computer or have enough money to pay for internet access. Internet is a luxury, not a necessity. Many times were are being asked to raise the standard of living rather than provide the necessities of life.
Having personally been to Africa, and the Philippines, I can attest first hand to the fact that most people, even in these foreign countries, now have cell phones. It is hard to take a cry for help seriously when it is being drowned out by the noise of cell phones ringing. However, this is not the picture generally painted when one of these brethren plead their case directly. It is important to understand both the people asking and what they are asking for; rarely do we take time to discover either through Facebook.
May brethren take to heart and heed Paul’s warning:
1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
If you are not able or willing to spend the time and effort needed to help brethren in foreign fields obtain the gospel, don’t try to alleviate your conscience by trying to send money. Money is not the answer.
It cannot be stated enough that the greatest obstacle we face in foreign fields is that of money. Entire works have been built on money and in the end tremendous amounts of evil, rather than good, were accomplished. Money has single handedly corrupted more members and destroyed more spiritual lives than any other vice. Money is not the answer; only the gospel has the ability to change lives for the better.
In closing, please reconsider who you “befriend” on Facebook and weigh heavily the pros and cons of how Facebook is being used. Please, consider the adverse spiritual effect of Facebook on foreign brethren, especially from third world countries, before accepting their friend requests.
If you receive a request for money, do not send money. Instead, contact one of our brethren who are involved with the work in the area where the request originated, and inform our leaders of the details of the request.
I am not trying to discourage involvement in foreign fields; I am trying to make people more aware of the reality of what is happening because of Facebook and the misuse or desire of money. If you want to get involved in foreign work, do so through the Lord’s Church and the evangelists sent into foreign fields.
May the Lord bless His kingdom and may the power of the gospel be unhindered.