The moral weight of fiscal stewardship

I love my job. Passion Life offers me the opportunity to travel around the world to some of the most amazing, beautiful, exotic places that you can imagine. I have seen The Great Wall of China. I have seen the Taj Mahal. Most of the time when I go on these trips, I do not do any sightseeing. I do not do any tourism, but every once in a while our local hosts will say, “Hey, we have an extra half day here. Can we take you to see a local site?” I have seen the Bay in Vietnam where they have recorded the Hong Kong movies a few years ago, just beautiful cliffs and mountains that drop right into the sea.

When we were in Cuba two weeks ago, we happened to be at a place that was right on the coast. Our local host asked us if we ate seafood. This is a man who used to work for a famous restaurant in Cuba and is kind of a world class chef. When we came home for dinner that evening, he had gone out diving and caught lobsters. It was an amazing meal.

We get to see things, we get to do things, we get to experience things that are all part of what we do. However, we would be mistaken to be posting pictures of us walking on white sand beaches and eating lobsters on our social media because the vast majority of what we do is actually less comfortable than that. Our job is less pleasant and more awkward than that.

For every minute that I have spent walking on a white sand beach in Vietnam or in Cuba, I have spent many more hours in the economy row of a budget airline flying from one small city to another small city or riding on a train between towns. I rode on a train once, in India, for many hours next to a man who was holding a chicken in his lap. I had a standing only seat.

My point being, we are happy to get to experience many of the things that God allows us to experience while we are on these mission trips. That’s why John is the first to say, “I love my job.” We love our jobs. It is the commute. That is the trouble. It is getting to work. That is a problem for us.
My last plane trip was an overnight plane trip that left at 9:30 in the evening from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and flew through the night to arrive at JFK at 7:00 in the morning. I rode the whole way in an economy seat which was more than a little uncomfortable. I do not have any pictures on my Instagram story of myself crammed up next to a window seat or of me sleeping, probably with my mouth open for everybody in the cabin to see.

We try to do everything that we do with integrity and a high degree of fiscal responsibility. We want to be faithful to you as partners because we know that there are many Passion Life partners who are making huge sacrifices to give the amount of money that they are giving to us. For some of our Passion Life supporters, it hurts. It hurts to see fifty or a hundred dollars going out of their bank account every month because they very well could be using that money for life’s other niceties. But they have sacrificed it. You have sacrificed it in order to send us to these places because you believe it is important. You believe it is God’s will. You believe it is your way of being involved in rescuing the most vulnerable in the places where the help is needed most. We want to affirm to you that we do not want to use any of your money in an irresponsible way at all.

In Argentina, we spoke to a group of Christian lawyers on our fourth day of this trip. Those lawyers took our team out to a wonderful Argentinian meal of steak, ribs and mashed potatoes. They have beautiful techniques of grilling meat in exotic ways in Argentina. They paid for it and it was wonderful because we did not have to use the money that was given by Passion Life supporters on that meal. They poured Argentinian wine and, you know, it was just a beautiful outpouring of their gratitude for us having come all that way to work with them as partners in pro-life ministry.

Sometimes we do get treated like kings and queens and it is an honor. But I would also have our supporters remember that we were in the car for 10 hours the next day in the rain, driving from one city to the next. We were cooped up in the backseat of a small car traveling to be able to teach. We arrived at midnight and we taught from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the next day. At 9:00 that evening, I was able to preach a church service from 9:30 to 10:30 before being able to get back to the hotel and fall down, exhausted and thankful for the opportunity to do what we do.

What’s my point? Why am I sharing all this? I just want you to note that we take the partnership of the donors of Passion Life very seriously. We are thankful for you. We are thankful for your sacrifice. We recognize it as such. We are not misusing or misappropriating your funds in any way. We do not have a home office. We do not have a building that we rent, lease or have purchased that we have to pay for out of the funds that we raise from you guys, at least at this point.

All of Passion Life’s staff members work from home with their own personal computers. We are lean. We have figured out a way to trim the fat so that when you give sacrificially and generously to Passion Life, you can feel good knowing that your funds are being used in a maximal way. We do not pay ourselves exorbitant salaries. We do that because we know that we are partners with you. We do that because we know that for some of you, as you write your monthly check or see it disappear by auto draft from your bank account, it’s a sacrifice. It hurts. And that is important to us. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Luke 8:1-3 says, “Soon afterward, he (Jesus) went on through cities and villages proclaiming and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God; and the 12 were with him and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities. Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out. And Joanna, the wife of Chuza who was Herod’s household manager, and Susanna and many others who provided for them out of their means.” Jesus lived on the generous and donated support of these women and many others. He did not fund his own ministry. He did not have a job, if you will. His job was to proclaim the kingdom of God and these generous, sacrificial supporters, made it possible for him to do what he did.

I work for Passion Life, but, in essence, I do not have a job. You guys are supporting our ability to go out and do what we do. We are thankful. We are humbled. We give money to what we do ourselves. We are with you as donors of Passion Life.

Sometimes the people that we work with on the field are generous donors as well. We are thankful when they give because when they do, we are able to save that money and spend it on the next trip. We are able to go to places where people have less to give. We want to be very responsible with the money that we give and we recognize it as a partnership with you. Thank you for what you do in sending us out around the world.

Please continue to pray for us, to give sacrificially, continue to tell your friends about the blessings that you are experiencing as a supporter of this ministry. I believe that it’s good for you and for me to give sacrificially to Passion Life. That is why I am not ashamed to ask people to donate to the work that God is doing through Passion Life. Thank you for being faithful and we look forward to reporting to you many more stories of what the Lord is doing with your sacrifice, generosity and partnership.