May 19, 2011

I Have No Medicine For You

I've been thinking a lot lately about who is worthy of salvation.  No... not from God's eyes.  I mean from a business stand-point.  Wise business people talk a lot about Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), to weigh the total anticipated cost against the total anticipated benefit.  There's merit in these types of assessments, because prudent thinking does not typically spend loads of money on something that will not have tangible (read: $$) results. 

As we have been sharing our vision for the ministry that we will have in France, the proverbial "elephant in the room" was finally spoken out loud the other day.  It was good that they had the courage to say what some others might be thinking.  Greatly paraphrased, the thought was that "your monthly support is difficult to justify, when there are many other places in the world that someone could send a mere fraction of that money and it would be much more cost-effective and better stewardship of God's money in regard to people getting saved."  This was spoken in utmost love, and I appreciate the courage that it must have taken to share the thought. 

That conversation, and others like it, reminded me of an exercise I had seen on TV many years ago.  Down in the depths of my basement, I've been saving an old VHS tape which I was able to convert to a digital format.  I believe it was around 2002 when Dr. Phil McGraw was still doing his weekly visits on Tuesdays on the Oprah show.  It shows a clip of a show where he
used a now controversial 'game' called "I Have No Medicine for You".

For years, I've thought about this episode because it just reminded me how every day we make choices about who we are going to give Christ’s ‘medicine’ to.  Frankly, as witnessing Christians, we have THE most powerful medicine available known to man, and we either make the choice to offer the medicine saying, "I have medicine for you", or we, through our inaction, silently say, "I have no medicine for you".  I suppose that sometimes, we also are forced to make very tough decisions about who we will send the medicine to around the world through missions.  Unfortunately, there are areas of the world, however dark and needing of the ultimate antidote they are, that we conscientiously make the incredibly difficult choice to say, "I have no medicine for you", because the ministry cost seems too great in relation to other areas of the world. 

We don't take our cues from Dr. Phil or Oprah, but as he says in the clip, the good news is that THIS exercise is only a game.  I suppose what is missing from his "Get Real Challenge" is any sense that the REAL exercise is about taking the REAL antidote to every tongue, every tribe, every nation, and every people group so that there can begin a movement of disciples who can then work at evangelizing their entire people. We feel passionate about the work in Lyon, France, but the mandate is global.  Hey world!  We have medicine for you.


  1. Good blog, guys! Enjoyed the Dr. Phil example. It would be difficult to stand before God one day and tell him the reason you chose not to go to France was because you did a cost-benefit analysis and you did not have a good enough business case! :) Praying for you guys.

    Chris and Jen

  2. Great thoughts. The CBA leaves out the element of faith and communication with God. Believing with you.

  3. I understand the concept presented in the video, and think this was an excellent way to get the point across. I also understand the "logic" behind the person questioning the "best use" of their giving. (In a way, don't we all? As conditioned consumers, we are told to only give to organizations that can show that at least 80-90% of their donated revenue actually goes towards "program expenses" and not to inflated overhead.) I have also heard someone say that they don't support ministry to prisoners since they are so hard-core, have refused multiple exposure to the Gospel, and the odds are so great that they will simply repeat a crime and end up back in jail. That person would rather support a ministry that is speaking to some group who may be hearing the Gospel for the very first time... with the logic that the odds of them accepting Christ will be greater than that, say, of a hardened prisoner. The truth is: ALL ministries should be inspired by the Holy Spirit, and if so, ALL are worthy of support. Some ministries have niche "markets", and unique "obstacles", and are in need of both funding and workers. I believe that if God has given you a passion for a particular ministry, then you should support it passionately... whether that be in finances or in volunteer or paid positions. There should be enough resources with the Church to do them all! But many times the human tendency is to go for the "glamour" (recognition) or the "efficient" (worthiness). But as in the local church body, the global "ministry body" has come to recognize that there needs to be a synergy between ministries. For example, a local ministry, The World Missionary Press" in New Paris publishes scripture booklets in over 300 languages going into every part of the world. Some is sent directly to those requesting them, but much of it is distributed by other organizations using their people in the field (like Gospel for Asia, Operation Mobilization, Radio HCJB, etc.) who use it as a tool for evagelization or follow-up. The WMP is VERY efficient with its resources, but the distribution end is also very important. What would happen if there were not the local churches throughout the world to act as points of contact and follow-up discipleship? ALL phases are necessary. As Paul said once, "some plant, some water, some reap". Yes, the church in France has withered, but with some re-planting and cultivating may be able to come back to bless that nation once again. Christ values each one of us the same, and would have died for each one of us if we were the only one left on earth to die for. The real question is not whether a particular ministry is "worth" enough from a business plan point-of-view, but what does the Holy Spirit command you to do with the opportunity you have to support it.