God's Bottom Line
Several years ago, a speaker at a national generosity conference made a presentation urging the audience to be strategic in their giving. The idea was that if you gave $1,000 to a ministry that will use it to reach 100 people for Christ, then that is a better use of funds than giving $1,000 to a ministry that is only going to reach 10 people for Christ.
In the audience was Joy Boerop, the wife of Dr. Bill Boerop, the Founder and President of World Thrust International. Joy was born and raised in China until the age of 18, and she took issue with the speaker. The following are her comments (excerpted from The Gathering newsletter, Fall 2001):
On our most recent trip to China, we were privileged to visit a church where my father had ministered many years ago. One of the ladies thanked us for our visit. She and other believers were reminded that my parents had willingly given up comfort, family, and material wealth to come to China. She wrote in a note, “It was because of your parents’ obedience to God and willingness to endure difficult circumstances for the sake of sharing the gospel that many in China now have eternal life through Jesus Christ.”
With all of the talk today of the fiscal efficiency of Christian ministries, getting the most bang out of your buck, applying financial rating systems, and modeling analyses of Christian charities after those done for for-profit companies, the note from the Chinese lady keeps burning in my heart.
Let me tell you about my father. God led him to China in 1925. In a miraculous way, he met my mother. They were married in Shanghai. The first four years of their marriage, they constantly fled from the communists as Mao Tse Tung chose the area where they lived for his famous “Long March.” Each one of their three children was born in a different city or province. Three times they lost everything they had. They were interned for over five years and did not see their children for almost six years during WWII. The mission station my father built was burnt down because the Japanese chose to use it as a warehouse for storing ammunition. Dad was taken to be shot, accused of being a spy. Three days later, he was released by the grace of God. In 25 years of service with the former China Inland Mission, now OMF, he had one furlough.
Most of the above I, as his daughter, only learned about much, much later. Trials, suffering, and difficulties to my father were only evidence of the importance of his task. He faced them calmly but with immovable determination. When I asked Dad about how many Chinese found the Lord under his ministry, he answered, “If I can count them on both hands, I am thankful.” He served his Lord faithfully, praying for China every day of his life, until God took him home.
Was my parents’ ministry in vain? Were resources wasted on keeping them in the field with so little results? The words of our Chinese friend keeps ringing in my ears, “Because of their obedience to God…many in China now have eternal life through Jesus.” There are millions of believers now in China. In fact, no one knows how many. One quote is as high as 50 million. In every mission station where my parents served, there is a strong church. One of the men my father discipled became pastor of the Ningdu church, and now his son is a pastor. A Chinese church leader told us that in Jiangxi, the province where my parents worked, there are now more Christians than Buddhists. And the ministry goes on.
Yes, indeed, it was worth my parents’ efforts, their faithful service to the Lord in spite of difficulties. God’s rating systems are much different than man’s. He measures by different standards. As someone asked, “What is the bottom line when there is no bottom line?” The true question is: “What is God’s bottom line?”
What do you think? Are people too concerned about giving metrics today? What's the bottom line?
This post was written by Terry Parker.