Thus far, we have looked at three principles of missions – (1) Cover It with Prayer, (2) Make It Personal and (3) Help with Humility. Here is principle number four.
Principle Four: Make It Sustainable
Whenever and wherever possible strive for self-sustainability.
Proverbs 14:23 says that “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.” We should always try to do all that we can to help the indigenous population become as sustainable as possible. This is not always completely possible, but it, nevertheless, should be the goal.
In Malawi, we helped build a kitchen to feed the children of a particular village with whom we are partnering. We send support to help feed the children on an ongoing basis. We believe this is important but it does not lead to some measure of self-sustainability.
We then helped relocate toilets away from the land on which they hope to start planting crops to feed the children in order to prevent contamination. We are helping our partners with the purchase of land to cultivate, the digging of a well to irrigate, the erection of fencing to protect and the hiring of workers to harvest and protect.
The eventual goal is for the village to become as self-sustainable as possible.
It has been said, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life.” (Author unknown) This saying is all about self-sustainability.
This is not only about physical food, but also about spiritual nourishment. If the Lord gives us an opportunity to start a church somewhere, the goal will be to train up a local pastor to shepherd the church with possible early assistance from missionaries sent from our church.
Principle Number Four takes time, effort, resources and a commitment to partnership. It would be difficult to do without the first three principles already in place.
Self-sustainability sees missions as a marathon and not a sprint. As a result, missionary endeavors can become hard and messy at times. Yet it is mandated by our Lord and Savior, Jesus. So as we move forward with the mandate, we should do it with Colossians 3:23 in mind – “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men”.
Something to think about…