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Don't do Missions as Usual

February 18, 2021

From a missionary:
Dear Michael and Debi Pearl,
On my resent mission trip to Sudan I came across a dear pastor that has found the perfect building for his church, but he simply can’t get the $69,000 dollars to purchase it. He is such a godly man and has a heart to minister to his people, and this would be a great blessing to them if we could raise the money for this worthy missionary project. I was hoping No Greater Joy would consider casting your bread upon the water to help the Saints in Sudan? I know you love missions.
Thank you,
Fellow Servant, Johana

Dear Johana,
The old missionary Milton Martin told us over and over, “Don’t do missions as usual. If you do, you will handicap the people that you win, make them dependent, and you will reach few.” When Martin went to Southern Mexico over 60 years ago he wanted to win one remote tribe of Indians. God spoke to him concerning the other 434 unreached tribes in the mountains and said GO. From that moment on he changed how he did missions. He kept looking for ways to get the gospel to the UNREACHED masses. He looked for the easiest, cheapest, and fastest ways. When he died this past year, he had reached hundreds of tribes, and those tribes had gone out and reached many more tribes. Just two years ago hundreds of men of God (from every one of those tribes), who had become well founded in the Word, came to honor him and say thank you. Martin had to watch on his phone as he was too old and weak to attend, but he will see them in glory.

Martin conducted his missions with the written page mostly, at first dropping tracts from airplanes, riding mules in with films to show, and leaving tracts and Bibles behind. He even dropped his younger son off at different tribes to show the gospel films. One day he returned to find his young son gone. The leaders had taken him deeper into the mountains to show the film to some who had never heard. It was a number of days before they returned.
Martin did not assist the indigenous peoples in building church buildings. He didn’t pay the salaries of young pastors. When one of the men from our church joined Milton in his next to last trip, traveling by mule and walking, they spent several days ministering to the churches, and when they got ready to leave, the people took up and offering. Our man was embarrassed to take the few dollars they gave him, but Milton told him it was important for their spiritual growth to take the offering.

When we attended a mission conference Martin conducted our eyes were opened. We stopped supporting people who went on mission trips UNLESS they were going with a purpose that was not missions as usual. Milton Martin learned to do missions unusual. That can’t be done focusing on one little congregation like they do in the Western church. One man reached tens of thousands in his life time with hundreds of indigenous churches growing out of the ministry—some of which he never attended. I remember hearing Martin sing, “Untold millions are still untold. Untold millions are outside the fold? Who will tell them of Jesus' love and the heavenly mansions awaiting above?”

I am telling you all this to say, we could give $69,000 to the people in Sudan who already have a preacher giving them the gospel. Or they could meet under a tree, or break up and meet in houses, or slowly raise the money for their building. We have done all those things throughout our lives and never been hampered by the lack of a building.
With $69,000 we can reach 3,500,000 unreached people with the book of God’s Story over the internet. This book can be shared over and over again for many years, so the real number reached with the gospel would be ten times 3.5 million. We hear from folks all over the world that have come to know Jesus through this download. That is what God has given us to do. If we, as you say, were to cast our bread upon the waters to purchase a building for one congregation, we would be casting it upon a pond of well-fed fish. As it is when we cast our bread upon the waters it is the flowing stream of the web that winds through every country in the world, reaching the most remote regions of places like Afghanistan, India, and Iran.

We too sing, “Untold millions are still untold. Who will tell them?” We know that is our job.

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Ecclesiastes 11:1

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2 comments on “Don't do Missions as Usual”

  1. Cane Creek Corner,
    Mike and Deb,

    I’ve written you before and subscribed awhile now. Love and admire you folks!

    I didn’t tell you before, because I felt I was doing it wrong, for 40 years!!

    Now, reading Debbie’s ‘Don't Do Missions as usual’ I feel release. I’m onto my 2nd ministry - this time mailing to prisoners. The 1st was global and 3rd world relief, but BOTH WERE FREE or at my costs. No, I couldn’t afford it, there was no support given by any but God, who somehow kept us alive with 2 kids, and one handicapped. We kept the house until recently, lost to the bank, but its OK an apartment is all we need. (wish there were some near you)
    It Seems we all go after GETTING far too much, and give little. I heard someone said that if the Bible were summed up into one sentence it would be “Giving, is better than getting” Its true!
    I’ve never liked it that churches and pastors get paid up front to tell people of an INEFFABLE INDEFINABLE God. Quite simply that’s UN Godly.

    I tried to secure a position as a missionary TO ANYWHERE but was told I needed well, lets just say far too much $$ annually, before I could go. Its strange too, as I am an aircraft pilot, a master welder on all formats/metals, and computer tech/author. How could I not be used?
    Upshot is this, we, my wife and I have without a doubt, reached/helped many hundreds of thousands of people. No I’m not ordained by seminarians, no its not documented. A.C.T.S. American Christian Transport Services, ended in the early 90’s , as well as our sister International Aid (hostile taken over by christians (cough).
    Samaritans Purse operates similarly today, but they wont consider us, due an over protocol led formula in hiring.

    We all hold to programs and formulas far too much. They do little overall.

    I am so glad for both of you!

    Thank you so much, rick

  2. I appreciate this response so much. My parents were missionaries for 30 years in Mexico, and my dad and our home church, never built or did anything that the church of locals could not do themselves. The reason was that they had seen many churches started with American money and, once the Americans left, the churches failed because they did not have the resources to continue. So, for church we met in public parks. Rain or shine, hot or cold. And, God has blessed these believers. Some of the churches did scrape and save and built their own buildings. Others have chosen to continue meeting in parks. I say this to say that you are right: we don't need fancy buildings or equipment to serve God and reach the lost. Also, my dad worked with Milton Martin and speaks very highly of him: he told me once that it wasn't just him that was sold out for Christ but his whole family! He said their house was full of gospel tracts. What a blessed testimony!