Read Mark 10:17-31. What must the rich young ruler do in order inherit eternal life? Jesus cuts to the chase: sell everything, give it all to the poor, follow Me.
The message here isn’t necessarily that every one of us is supposed to sell all that we have and live as ascetics following Jesus. No, the message is that we are to love Jesus more than our money and, if we are called to do so, that we would be not only willing but joyous to sell all that we have to follow Him. We should not view our money and resources as our own at all, but as God’s, and we should steward His resources accordingly.
The following subsections discuss two key aspects of stewardship as they relate to your partnership with AIM and your work in Cambodia.
Stewardship Part I
In Cambodia, how you steward your money can lead either to great harm or great good. After the Killing Fields (see Day 22 for more information on the Killing Fields), an organization with significant financial backing went to Cambodia to bless and empower the Church. For one month they asked pastors to come and submit their requests for funding. However, when people realized that the organization wasn’t there for the long-term, wasn’t going to provide accountability, and wasn’t going to check up on their stories, they began to invent churches, orphanages and other ministries in order to get some of the funding.
Through this well-intentioned effort, people learned that they could manipulate wealthy donors and get easy money. This practice is still a challenge in Cambodia today.
When you go to Cambodia, it may be that a pastor, staff or other individual will ask you for funding. While the request may or may not be ill-intentioned, we do not want to ever promote this type of behavior or create temptation for our staff or partner church ministries. It is always best to have a structure of accountability through which to give. If you want to promote the mission of AIM and the work that God is doing through their staff, please give to AIM directly, trusting that the staff know how best to steward and allocate your donations given their experience with the country and their work on the ground.
Stewardship Part II
Now imagine that you are part of a small church in a rural community. Another church from overseas contacts you and says you can choose between them sending a mission team to put on a VBS at your church or giving you the money it would have cost to send the team. It will cost them about $30,000 to send over their ten team members for the two-week VBS.48 Your church has been praying for $20,000 to repair the heating and air-conditioning unit that hasn’t been functioning properly for months, and the remaining $10,000 would more than triple your typical VBS budget. What do you think your church would do?
You have no doubt been raising money or have been paying out of pocket no small amount in order to go to Cambodia. The above anecdote is not designed to make you feel guilty about the cost to go and to serve, but it is meant to challenge you to consider what this short-term experience will mean.
You have the opportunity to see first-hand what God is doing in the lives of Cambodians through AIM’s ministry. You have the opportunity to serve alongside practiced staff, to love children who desperately need to know they are loved and cherished, and to give of your time, your energy, and your resources to live out God’s call on all of our lives to serve the helpless and the oppressed.
Some people view short term missions as an unwise use of money. Some believe it’s an appropriate use of money. It all depends on how you follow through after the two weeks you get to serve in Cambodia. If your trip prompts you to consistently give of your finances and time in prayer upon your return, then it was a good use of your time. But if it is was solely for a two-week personal experience, it was an unwise use of God’s resources.
The rich young ruler left Jesus disheartened because the wealth that he had was great. He did not understand the promise of riches from which he was walking away – that material blessing is worth nothing in comparison to the greatness of walking with and following Jesus.
Spend some time in prayer in thanks for the blessings God has bestowed upon you and ask how He may be calling you to steward His finances.
48 Anecdote adapted from Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012), chapter 7.