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Recession: Bad for missions, or good?

“If we were to cut back on something, it would never be missions and benevolence,” said Trey Morgan, minister for the Childress, Texas, church.
For now, the Childress church is surpassing its weekly budget, Morgan said. But congregations feeling the crunch of the economic slowdown also are determined to continue funding domestic and international missions, church leaders told The Christian Chronicle.
To cope with the possibility of declining contributions, some churches plan to change the way they fund mission work.
In Antioch, Calif., for example, the Eastside church is tightening its budget for 2009, said Rick Johnson, worship and body life minister. Instead of cutting programs, the church plans to fund some of its mission work and benevolence programs through special contributions in addition to the weekly budget.
Contributions have remained strong at the South Knoxville church in Tennessee, said J.L. Steele, a deacon in charge of benevolence. The church has assisted churches in two small towns in Honduras for several years, and is raising funds to help one Honduran congregation buy land for a meeting place.
But the economic downturn has affected church members’ personal finances, said Steele, who is a Realtor.
“I was hoping to return to Honduras this past summer on a Latin American Missions campaign,” he said. “That had to be postponed.”
Several international ministries associated with Churches of Christ rely on multiples sources — including individual donors — for support.
Global Samaritan Resources is “holding our own,” said Ed Enzor, director of operations. The Abilene, Texas-based nonprofit distributes food, clothing, medical supplies, vehicles and furniture worldwide to people in need.
As part of a recent fund-raising appeal, the ministry reminded potential donors that, though the U.S. economy is bad, many people Global Samaritan serves live on less than a dollar per day, Enzor said.
Several church members, including Steele, told the Chronicle that the deepening recession gives Christians opportunities to practice sacrificial giving.
“It’s my hope that, instead of worrying about the doom and gloom on the news, we will use this an opportunity to ‘put our money where our mouth is’ regarding our faith,” Steele said.

Filed under: International

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