Those Great, Wonderful Missionary Works

Those Great, Wonderful Missionary Works examines the claim of great success when thousands are saved. But are they really?

A Perfect, Blessed Missionary Ministry

Let’s examine what is happening in missions. Missions are very simply some established churches who send money and pray for other works that are being. While this is very easy to see and understand, things get a little complicated very quickly. Every missionary that comes to a local church in the United States (let’s say) come to that church presenting their ministry. But what do they present? Is their ministry a great success? Or are they a failure? We need to think about this.

God’s Ministers are to be Humble

I have been a missionary, living totally from missionary gifts, since 1983. I am not new to missions. But it has always been a problem in my mind and heart when I am asked to present our labors and ministry for the Lord to a local church. The reason for this being a problem is that God’s ministers are to be humble. So I downplayed what we have done, are doing, our successes and future goals. But then in each case, you are placed beside other missionaries who, according to their boasting, they have won the world over a dozen times in their ministry of just a few years. Billy Graham was part of this. He claimed that he had preached in his ministry to more people than Jesus Christ had preached to in his earthly ministry, and Graham claimed that millions were saved under his ministry, and that was a lot more than Jesus could claim.

At first glance, I just have to say that I have not saved a single solitary person in all my ministry. I only lead people to Jesus, and He saved them. While I am like a friend of the bridegroom who acquaints the bride with the bridegroom, I don’t really have a part in their relationship. Each person who gets saves (and they are really saved) is because they “find Christ the Savior”. There is no other way.

Having said that, if you are looking to exalt yourself and your own ministry over Christ, you are truly wrong from the beginning, middle and end. We all have to give all the glory to Christ. What we do for Christ has to do with what God has given you, as well as the individual hearts and wills of the people you are seeking to lead to Christ.

An illustration was given of D.L. Moody when he went to Spurgeon’s church to preach. Afterward, Spurgeon and Moody were walking on the sidewalk to get something to eat. A drunk was vomiting in the gutter and passed out. A man with Spurgeon and Moody walking with them said, “Mr. Spurgeon, there is one of your converts.” Spurgeon quickly responded, “Well, of course, he has to be one of my converts because he obviously isn’t one of Christ’s.

This situation is forced on missionaries simply because they will never get their support raised if they do not boast about themselves. Humble quiet missionaries are broke and rarely get to the field. The most proud boastful missionaries rarely have problems raising their support. The missions “system” that we have by default (whether we want it to be this way or not, it is this way), but that system penalizes the humble, and rewards the proud.

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

What is a missionary conference except exactly this, different servants of the Lord in an organized striving for a few missions dollars? It doesn’t make sense what we are doing in missions.

1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Should churches question and get to know the ministry of a missionary before they support them? Absolutely. But it is more important to know the person that the propaganda. In other words, let them preach a normal sermon. A Bible study Sunday School lesson. Make events where the people can talk to the missionary one-on-one. If you do not know the missionary personally, it will be extremely hard to pray for them.

The Image of Greatness Some Ministers Project

While it would seem very common for God’s ministers to present themselves as some great thing for God, we need to examine that seriously. One missionary here in Mexico says he has the largest church in Central America. He boasts of 6,000 members and 20,000 people saved EVERY YEAR since the 1990s. So supposedly he has seen probably upwards towards a million people saved in Mexico in his ministry. But is that greatness or failure?

At first, we have to say that in every church, not everybody who professes Christ is really saved. That goes for people who supposedly are already saved, and change their membership into your church. Some of them may be unsaved, and deceiving themselves about their own salvation. Moreover, those that are baptized (another measure by which many want to measure success) often leave the church permanently within a small amount of time.

But just the laws of statistics would say that this should not happen extremely frequently. If a guy has 6,000 members and has gotten 1 million people saved, is that a tremendous success? That works out to a retention rate of .006 people of those who are supposedly saved. I would say he should re-evaluate his plan of salvation and their practices (like baptizing people immediately) because he has very little to show for such “success.

What Local Churches should be Looking at

Some may say I have sour grapes because my ministry cannot compare to this guy’s ministry. I don’t mind you disagreeing with me. My gauge for doing well in the ministry is foremost faithfulness to the Lord, and everything else relies on that basic concept, a faithful gospel presentation, faithful doctrine, etc.

But there are some points of logic that need to be dealt with. Firstly, these people raise money professionally in the United States among churches to financially support what they are doing on the foreign mission field. That would seem to be the New Testament way. I have no problem with that. But really! If a guy has a church in Mexico with 6,000 members each Sunday, and they give $1 US dollar once a month for that missionary’s salary, why would he need to raise money in the states? I mean, is God’s church a bunch of hogs at the trough eating? These 6,000 members only come to get free things they give away, and, in general, they do not support the work of their own church? Is that faithful teaching tithing? No, these guys are obsessive about money. There is never enough.

Moreover, they want sacrificial living from all their own ministers (except the top level ministers who live in high luxury), and they squeeze their church members for high offerings. Then they go to the United States and boast of everything they have as though they personally did it all. They go out once before returning to the states to witness to one person, and some guy on his staff takes a dozen pictures of “him witnessing“, and he takes credit for it all.

Churches should see through False Prophets

Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

The word “apostle” just means somebody sent on a mission. Jesus sent out his disciples on a missionary journey (Matthew 10:5), and they returned from that “mission” and their name stuck with them. So an “apostle” is somebody sent on a mission or a missionary.  Paul refers to Titus as an “apostle of the churches” in 2 Corinthians 8:23, but the KJV translates that into “messengers of the churches“.  Paul says 2 Corinthians 8:19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

So the commandment of the Apostle John in Revelation 2:2 is that the churches should examine their missionaries (or apostles) to see if they are liars. That is a biblical obligation on every individual Christian and church, to examine their missionaries. I would suppose the most important point is their presentation of the gospel. But also of how they do the work of the Lord.

Water Baptism is the Act of being saved (for Catholics)

In a country which is highly Catholic, I have been hesitant in baptizing any and everybody that wants to be baptized. Unfortunately, in times past, I was not “so picky,” and we baptized new people. We have a baptismal class that they must go through before being baptized. But my observation is that many people coming from a Catholic background think that if they can just “get into our baptismal pool,” that getting wet will actually save them. It is very irritating that these people are so insistent on getting baptized “IMMEDIATELY” but while they are very insistent before baptism, they totally disappear after being baptized. I mean, the next Sunday they are not there, and you cannot get a hold of them again ever.

My conclusion as a pastor of many years in a Catholic country is that Catholics are not satisfied with their church’s practice and doctrine on salvation. The fact of the matter is that everybody seems to understand that salvation is a conversion, a moral change from before to after. That change is that the person is different in his moral character after salvation, and that change is that they are more morally like God.

When they do not see their Catholic brethren making any moral change, they think the Catholic’s church’s salvation and practice is defective, so they will “get saved” by “getting wet” with the Protestants. Unscrupulous Baptist pastors will use this to project an image of greatness of what they are doing. But are these people taken aside and patiently taught the true gospel over weeks and months before baptizing them? Do they teach that baptism doesn’t save them?

Moreover, some baptists even teach that a Christian can lose their salvation, so they want their own people to again come forward, repent, and be saved again (and baptized again), and that “adds to their numbers.” Does this sound biblical? No.

Defining Success

But true success is that the church on the mission field continues the work of the Lord without the American, and without Americans pulling the strings, and without American donations and money. That is the only thing we can consider “success.” Modern mission boards want to outright own the church buildings on the mission field, as well as have each local church’s bank account in the mission board’s name. These practices are not necessary if their missionaries are truly so successful. But that is where the deception and fraud enters all of this. We are given “shows,” that in reality, covers up what is actually just a raw buying of people. While somebody is paying nationals a salary, they are loyal to that money. All other considerations are blocked. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons or Catholics come along, these converts will move to whomever pays them the most. I would define that as a failure.

Yes, there are people that are converted, are baptized in a baptist church, and even rise within that church, and then change to some other religion with an unbiblical gospel. That happens, unfortunately. But that is not just a Baptist thing. That is Satan attacking the church of God. But we should not really make things easy for those kinds of people. We should pray a lot and examine, and test people to see if they are liars.

When some ministry becomes hard to believe all that they claim, they probably are just lying. Even in the United States, we need to test the ministries. Billy Graham claimed upwards of 100,000s of converts where he had an evangelistic campaign. But upon closer examination, a lot of those “converts” went to revitalization masses in the Catholic church. Upon more investigation, Graham insisted on the local Catholic Archdisosis sending nuns and priests (in street clothes) to be Graham’s counselors. Yes, Graham had 10,000s of people come forward in these services. Even 100,000s. But what do you say when the person who is supposed to guide them to faith in Christ is a priest or nun? Deception needs to be identified and called out.

Those Great, Wonderful Missionary Works

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