Yes, and there is also a tendency of works on the mission field to develop a long-term dependency on cash from the USA. What I have found, living in a poor, third world country, is that they think they can’t support themselves while the conclusion is not altogether certain. Even while others around have solutions or are working on solutions. Even when the church benefiting from foreign cash could with sacrificing some superfluities get on by itself and let the burden rest on its own congregation. And learn to stand on its two feet as soon as possible.
And spare us your youth-group mission teams.
Part of the reason is that we are not spiritual. We measure our spirituality in terms of things that cost to put on: programs, decorations, special speakers. It looks good to have people going, and people coming, and hearing about 2000 Africans or 300 Philipinos for the first time getting solid teaching on: Dispensationalism or the Doctrines of Grace or Pragmatism in the Church, or name your pet theology. Is it the best way? If we were spiritual would we think that way? Are you sure there aren’t teachers here already and prepared to teach these things? Of course, they don’t have the magnetic celebrity pull, but how much of that is really productive?
And in countries where there are actually works on every corner in every religious flavor, every little enterprising chap wants to put up a building at the expense of US taxpayers. I know. I am in one of the wealthier small churches here, and they like the idea of sending someone to the USA to ask for money so they can build. Why not? They’re rich there. Aren’t we all in this together? I say: How about you get in this together by making sure you are supporting and sacrificing for your own local church there where you are? Are you paying your own pastors a decent salary? Do you have enough pastors on staff to attend to the spiritual needs of your congregation? Fix that one first, and quit meddling with the beam in another country’s eye.
Do you want to help on the missionfield? Here’s what strikes me as a really good way. Find a good translator and fund a translation project, then put the book in the public domain on the internet, or better yet, also make it available to the target countries at a good price well-bound. We don’t have anything of Edwards translated. We don’t need some enthusiastic missionary’s half-baked second language skills, we don’t need some semi-educated missionary kid’s ill-advised translation, and beware of the natives. We need good translations of enduring works. Find out who is translating Victor Davis Hanson, who translates Christopher Dawson, who translated Gerald Bray and commission a translation. All of John Owen is in laughable abbreviations as far as Spanish goes. No William Law. C.S. Lewis is held captive by a Spanish publisher (Rial) as is Machen–the last held by Vida, a subdivision of Zondervan–with a copyright and out of print. Want to help on the missionfield? Purchase the rights to Machen’s Greek in Spanish and put it in the public domain or put it into print again. Or other books like that. Like the bean-counter Greek approach? Get the books translated–though the public domain thing is probably more viable with older works. How about translating that work on Polity IX Marks puts out? It would be nice to have With Reverence and Awe. And let that take up your time and effort and money. Find a good translator in NYC and pay him cold hard cash for a decent translation to which you can give away all the rights. No glory to you, of course, but then, isn’t that the point?
There is a Spanish-Hebrew lexicon on the market right now. It costs 700,000 Colombian Pesos. The peso is a little less than 2,000 to the dollar; do the math. Want to help on the mission field? Check into that kind of thing and instead of sending money, use it to fund affordable solutions. Brown, Driver, Briggs and you my friend, in Spanish.
And quit sending missionaries who look down on language skills and hard theological tomes!!!!