This past week I had the privilege and joy of meeting with several other pastors in the annual Bangladesh Partnership meeting, this year hosted by Briarwood here in B’ham. Brothers from Montana, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Asia gathered to discuss how we can better support, encourage, and partner with the Presbyterian Church of Bangladesh (PCB).
I was first introduced to the PCB by Bill Nikides, another missionary CPC has supported for a number of years. Bill is still actively involved in the Bangladesh work, as well as several other countries where his expertise in missiology is needed. I remember him giving me several compelling reasons why this work was important for Community to get involved in. But one comment he made really stood out … he said something along the lines of “the PCB doesn’t need us as much as we need the PCB.” … and he was so right! While the PCB truly does benefit from the involvement of the US churches, I can personally attest to the fact that I have benefited far more than any contribution I can even conceive of making. Yes, that happened once again during this most recent meeting. Allow me to explain.
Though the finances of the partnership are in really good shape, every report often needs some explanation, especially when money is involved. One question involved an apparent shortfall in the budget. As the explanation was given it was apparent there was actually a surplus. But the explanation provided an opportunity to explain a very different perspective on money, budgets, salaries, ministry, etc. In our way of doing things here in the US, we would typically cut most any budget item before we cut a person’s salary. But in Bangladesh they would see the shortfall as a blessing and not hesitate to cut salaries, including the pastor’s. Their understanding is that it is God’s way of helping the pastor examine his heart, to determine whether he is in the ministry for personal / material / financial gain or in it for the sake of Jesus. While a few Bengali pastors have left the job because they didn’t get paid, the large majority persevere in the midst of this suffering, shortfall, want, and stress. They count it joy to be tested in this manner and gladly continue in ministry, believing that what they are doing has eternal significance and isn’t contingent on how much money they have in the bank that month.
So as I transition into a ministry where I have to raise my own support I’m greatly challenged by these Bengali brothers who so willingly persevere even when they lack proper financing. I often find myself more concerned about money than the unbeliever I’m seeking to reach out to. I often get anxious and worried about the possibility of not raising enough support. I frequently lack faith in God’s provision, faithfulness, and sufficiency. I often seek to impose my standards on what I expect God to do rather than trust Him for daily bread. Yes, I know I have the responsibility raise adequate support. I have financial obligations, bills to pay, a family to support, and a future to consider. But I long for the faith of these PCB pastors who are willing to faithfully serve Christ regardless!
Please join me in praying for the PCB. This church faces more daily obstacles than we likely ever will in our entire lifetime. Pray for their safety in the face of persecution, for church planting efforts, for finances, for leadership development, and for many conversions among the Bangladesh peoples. Also, pray for me to have faith as I press deeper into the ministry of evangelism.