Funding from “Behind” For Apostolic Ministry

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Missiologist Ralph Winter writes in his editorial in the most recent issue of Mission Frontiers magazine:

“Many jobs are ‘funded from behind.’ That is, some foundation, some tax base, or some set of donors is willing to pay you to deal with an urgent problem or provide a service to someone else (who does not pay).Mission agencies fall into this category. Much of what they do blesses people who can’t pay for the products or services they receive.

Could everything that needs to be done in this world be done with a business approach? Almost. But many highly strategic needs require funding ‘from behind.’ You can’t make “a business” out of rescuing child prostitutes in Thailand, or by setting up medical clinics in the midst of extreme poverty around the world.”

Besides the clear biblical precedents in seeing “support” generated through gifts, Winter’s comments highlight the simple, practical aspect of why “funding from behind” is one of the preeminent means God uses to fund His work. There are many reasons, including a plethora of misconceptions, why people won’t or don’t want to do this:
    1) It requires a position of dependence. The term “faith missions” is not a misnomer.
    2) Independent, self-relient, westerners are not all that good at such a posture. I have lost count of the successful business people whom I have met who long to be missionaries or in vocational ministry, but will only do it if they are independently wealthy and not having to depend on anyone else for money.
    3) It is perceived as “begging.”
    4) It is associated with living in poverty and going through life being needy.
    5) It is hard work.More about this tomorrow.

2 Responses to “Funding from “Behind” For Apostolic Ministry”

  1. Michael Johnson Says:

    A little off-topic of your post, but regarding Ralph Winter’s quote: “You can’t make “a business” out of rescuing child prostitutes in Thailand, or by setting up medical clinics in the midst of extreme poverty around the world.”

    ...I wonder. I recently watched the movie, Born Into Brothels, in which a woman working in the red-light district of Calcutta was drawn to work with the children of prostitutes. She was also a pro-photographer, so she got the idea of giving each of the kids inexpensive cameras and asking them to interpret their world through that medium. It worked wonders not only in creating deep relationships but the end of the story was this: she got many of them into higher education and out of the brothels by showcasing their photography and assisting them in selling prints of their own work…which completely funded their own empowerment. There are other similar stories.

    I wonder what is possible if we reimagined problems with a little more spirit-led creativity. Entrepreneurs focus on hidden value opportunities. As spiritual entrepreneurs, those values are the treasures of identity, dreams, and purpose inside. Our part of this opportunity might be to provide the marketing and distribution channels for those “products” of our Father’s dreams.


  2. Michael Johnson Says:

    LOL … correction on web site (if it matters)

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