International (MNN) — Donor support is vital for God’s work around the world. But are there cases where there is a better option?
Dick Prins of Advancing Native Missions says, “Over time, ministry organizations have become increasingly dependent on Western donations for their viability and continued ministry.”
Many ministries are seeking to do missions that enable poor communities be self-sufficient in the long run. This allows ministries to grow in size and impact without continued support from the outside.
ANM has been using an approach that’s found success in helping indigenous pastors support themselves and their church. It’s called Business As Missions. ANM has been working in 80 countries, most of them in the developing world. As for the individuals they select for these projects, Prins says, “They’re not formally trained in business, but they have a gift to understand the elements that lead to a successful business. Our goal at ANM is to identify those who have that gifting and to come alongside them and understand what we can do to support them.”
The projects include sewing centers, agriculture, and goat farming. The results are encouraging, and now for the year 2014, ANM is looking to support bigger projects that will make a bigger impact. The projects ultimately go to support the pastors that they are training so that they will be able to continue ministering to the area around them.
One pastor that ANM has been partnering with for 15 years is a great example for how indigenous missions can be successful. In fact, he gave the ministry practical ideas on how to run a business. He runs a hotel, convention center, radio station, and some other businesses. He’s only supporting himself, but also 175 staff members, including 62 pastors. “He understands business, and he has a great vision to support not just his ministry, but other ministries across Africa through business,” Prins says.
So what does it look like for Western Missions to get involved?
ANM partnered with this same pastor in his Shea nut business. They sent him a hut from the United States for a much lower price than it would have been in Africa. This provided him storage for his business. Realistically, missions can provide the proper tools and techniques to help indigenous people jump-start their businesses and be on their way to growing their ministry’s impact.
For the people who are able to run a business, this approach is helpful for ministries to stand on their own two feet. ANM analyzes the situation to ensure that the individuals they partner with will eventually be able to run their business without external support: “Each pastor or ministry leader that we partner with and support has to have a gifting, to start with, in business,” Prins says.
For those who do not live in an area conducive to self-sustenance or who do not have a business mindset, traditional ways of giving are still very much needed.
So what can you do to help? You can start by visiting ANM’s Web site and seeing what projects you can contribute to. Another way is to research organizations that use the Business-As-Missions model and that encourage self-sustaining projects and ministries. Your gift could go to support a community long-term, helping ministries grow their impact from the inside out.
Pray that these self-sustaining projects will grow and expand the reach of the Gospel.