05 February, 2015

The importance of support workers in mission

During the Falkland War (1982) the Argentinean military leaders placed many Argentinean soldiers on the Falkland Islands to occupy them. These soldiers were not very well trained and poorly equipped. They also did not receive the logistical backup an operation of that nature required.

The Islands legally belonged to Great Britain, who sent troops to the Islands to re-occupy them. The British soldiers were well trained and although the Islands were thousands of kilometres from Great Britain, the British Navy supplied remarkably good logistical support. The British soldiers’ moral was also much better than the Argentineans’. Although totally outnumbered by the Argentineans, the British were able to overrun the Argentinean defences within weeks, with great loss of life on the side of the Argentineans.

After the war the Argentinean president and two members of his military government were brought to trial and found guilty of negligence during the war. They were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment each.1

True story!

But how is it relevant to this blog? 

Somehow an imaginary line has been drawn in people's minds between "real, front-line missionaries" and "support missionaries". Our mission actually has no such categories, thankfully.

One of the things I've done as a support missionary is to
 help other missionaries be better writers so
they can communicate their unique stories.
A blog post appeared recently in my Facebook feed called, "In Praise of Mission Support Workers". It is written by an OMF church planter in Thailand. He wrote that he hates the question: “How much [finance] goes to admin?” I have to admit that I've never been asked that question and I'm glad. 

First I don't have a figure to give. 
Second, it implies that money not used directly in evangelism and church planting is wasted money. 
Third, I am a support missionary. 95% of what I do is supporting other missionaries, so what is a question like that saying about me and my ministries?

Modern military forces would never send their armies out without support. They need a lot of infrastructure to be effective. People who aren't on the "front line". The same principle apply to mission.

The above author successfully points out that he can't do his ministry and do all the things that are needed to support his ministry (including admin related to donations, visas), nor is he capable to do things that are necessary to keep missionaries on the field (like medical advice, teaching their kids, supervising language students).

1. Zakheim, D.S. (1985) The South Atlantic Conflict: Strategic, Military, and Techonological Lessons. In Coll, A.R. &; Arend, A.C. (eds.) The Falklands War: Lessons for Strategy, Diplomacy, and International Law. Allen & Unwin, Inc, USA.) pp 177 & 179.

1 comment:

Georgia said...

Thanks Wendy. This is quite relevant. You know how I feel.