Cultivating a generous spirit

By Kehinde Ojo |

The origin of missions as emanating from Old Testament, or exclusive to the New Testament after the birth of the early Church, remains debatable. But let us accept that the itinerary and ministry of Elisha described in II Kings 4:8-17 fits the profile of a 21st century missionary. The question then is: Whose responsibility is it to care for Elisha?

On whom should God depend to cater for missionaries?

Stories about Elijah and Elisha clearly suggest that they depended on structures enabled by God for their needs to be met. It is likely that, given their many exploits, people cared more for what they could get out of these prophets (missionaries) than what they could do to help them. Stereotypes abound today when we think of missionaries. Those who have foreign affiliations are expected to come with a lot of foreign money and “share” with the locals. Indigenous missionaries are sometimes perceived as beggars, and many churches are not very open to supporting missionaries who are not from their fold.

The family in this story is not given to stereotypes. The wealthy woman and her family took the initiative to make their resources available to Elisha by offering him a meal after a tiring journey.

Inviting guests, or better put, strangers, to meals appeared to be the norm for this family, such that “no, thank you” was not an acceptable response.

The woman persuaded (subtly forced) him to eat! (verse 8a) Wow! She is giving away her meal and she was not ready to take no for an answer. What a generous spirit! Elisha soon became a regular guest in this home, whenever his itinerary allowed. The generous family built him a guest chalet, freely releasing their resources to help an itinerant minister. They were thorough in their efforts to provide him with a comfortable stay.

Resourcing mission

Every local church, irrespective of location, has been endowed by God with time, talent and treasures to cater for the needs of missionaries. Church leaders are encouraged to open up to the missional God, accepting whomever He sends to them. The service they render is primarily to God, for the benefit of the missionary and the mission agency. The generosity of this family is born out of freewill and primacy of service.

What amazing freedom they enjoyed in their giving. Similarly, individuals, families and churches should give in order to add value, rather than focusing on what they get back. It is important to note that this couple took the initiative to give, not because they were asked, but because they were always looking for opportunities to make a difference! This virtue can be emulated by all, regardless of culture or circumstances.

Here are some ways churches in Africa can support missionaries today:

1. Create a mission fund: The starting point for engagement in mission by any local church is to create a missions budget and possibly appoint a committee to manage the resources.

2. Decide who will benefit:  The committee, on behalf of the local church, should prayerfully choose a missionary or mission agency that needs any kind of support or act of kindness. It may involve the use of time, talent or treasure. Money is not the only need in the lives of missionaries. As a local church or individual families, you may want to make a visit, buy a gift, offer a service, provide counsel and/or encouragement, give a donation, pray or offer a meal.

3. Support on a regular basis:  It is very challenging when missionaries are treated with disdain by churches in respect to support. You do not need to wait until you receive a letter of appeal to make a donation.

4. Challenge your members: The mission enterprise is not for select church members. It is everyone’s responsibility. Information can be made available to the congregation through the promotion of mission on a yearly basis. A Sunday service can be set aside each year to receive news about mission globally and inform the congregation about the different ways they can actively participate. 

Kehinde Ojo is IFES Program Director for Indigenous Support Development. 

This originally appeared in AfriGo - Volume 1, Issue 4 

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

Publicador de continguts

SIM Asset Publisher Portlet

Publicador de continguts

Related stories

In hope of completeness

Our everyday language so readily offers up boundary lines between worlds known and unknown, moral and immoral. Yet it falls terribly short of expressing the shades and shadows of human experience. Last week we visited several homes that really felt like shades and shadows. I followed Malti di through the crowds of a wholesale bazaar, jostled with cows and carts, to the vicinity where dark narrow alleyways and stairwells led to the separate homes of six transgenders under her care.

Sports Friends moves to the megacity

Sports Friends has ministries in many of the far-flung corners of the world; from Peru, to Nigeria to Thailand. The mental scenes that correspond to those places might be something like a dusty plain with children playing football under a tree with wide, spreading branches. Or a field lined with palm trees, young girls avoiding monsoon-season puddles as they practice volleyball. And sure, these picturesque rural settings really are some of the places where Sports Friends works, but what about sports ministry in an urban context, where fields and courts are not in open spaces, but tucked amidst buildings and side streets?

Prabhouti's Wedding

Traditionally, Prabhouti should have married years ago. Girls in her village are married early – sometimes as young as twelve years old – just like their mothers were before them.

Celebrating Ezra's first graduates

The Ezra Project began in 2015 as the need for stronger church leadership and pastoral skills grew in many rural churches in an Asian country. The aim of the project is to provide church leaders with solid training in biblical teaching and strengthen their spiritual lives so that they can lead their flock with more precision according to the Word of God. Three years after its first modules launched, Ezra was able to celebrate its first batch of graduates!