Why We Support Foreign Evangelists

Why We Support Foreign Evangelists

A look at the bulletin board shows that our congregation sends financial support to sixteen evangelists. Lest we ever think, “we’ve got quite enough unsaved people on our plate right here in Brandon that we must evangelize, what concern is it of ours what is happening hundreds of miles away?” let us remind ourselves why this is a vital part of our faith.   

It’s a Good, Obedient Work

Jesus commanded His disciples: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). We find ourselves no less obligated than the original disciples to fulfill this commission. While it is realistically beyond the scope of any one congregation to personally go into the whole world, we can play our part by supporting others in far-off places. Third-world souls are no less beloved of God than first-world souls. How exciting to look at reports from evangelists in Colombia, India, Manhattan, and know that their voices will one day be joined with ours (Revelation 5:9-10)!

We Receive a Blessing

Paul thanked the Philippians for their financial support, but pointed out what they had gained. “No church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.  Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account” (Philippians 4:15-17). A cynical person might accuse Paul of praising them for selfish reasons. But Paul knows that their efforts are made with the Lord in view, not him. Thus, their support is “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”

A close connection is formed when we financially support distant evangelists. Paul uses the term, “shared with me,” in 4:15 above. Earlier in Philippians 1:5 he thanks God for “your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.” These terms are from the koinonia root, often translated “fellowship” or “partnership.” Fellowship can be much more than hanging out; fellowship is joint participation in accomplishing a common goal. We share in the excitement of souls saved through our joint participation in these evangelistic works.

Our duty to train the next generation of preachers (2 Timothy 2:2) has a similarly broad impact. While the gospel is no pyramid scheme, all the baptisms Timothy conducted can be traced back to the influence of others (Acts 16:3, 2 Timothy 1:5). All glory and credit goes to God for saved souls, but we gain a blessing from sharing in the work of training evangelists (cf. 1 Samuel 30:24). 

We Need to Be Properly, Fully Involved

However, if we are going to support preachers in other areas, we need to do it right. We all know that governments can throw money at things—poverty, education, the environment without really improving them.

We should verify those preachers we support are teaching soundly, lest we unwittingly share in the sin of false doctrine (2 John 10, 1 Timothy 5:22). We should accompany our funds with encouragements and prayers. Psalm 127:1 reminds us, “Unless the LORD builds the house they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” Some works could become more successful if we’d simply pray for them. Paul writing from Corinth, said to the Thessalonians, “pray for us, that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). Paul asked for the same from the Ephesians (6:18-20), though he was writing from Rome hundreds of miles away.

--John Guzzetta