15 April, 2015

Missionaries with a hidden agenda?

"Meeting with the people" or "catching up with people" or "having coffee with someone".
This was one of the most unusual "catch ups" that
we've ever had. Our friend and OMF colleague, Jan,
lives in Melbourne. She spent the day with us
at the National Youth Wrestling Championships last
year, cheering our son. Unusual, but it worked.

These are phrases we've used a lot this year. But what do they mean?

I hadn't even thought of it until someone I contacted to "catch up with" checked that we weren't looking to gain financial support from them.

I was horrified and wrote back:
Absolutely not. That is not our motivation at all. No pressure whatsoever from us on that. That's between the Lord and yourselves. But of course if you don't want us to come, please just say so. We just want to get to know you better.
By the way, OMF missionaries aren't allowed to solicit money. We never talk about it unless others ask.

He replied saying that they've had bad experiences in the past, so they prefer to be upfront.

Oh dear.

I wonder if some people worry about talking to us because of this issue. I know that OMF's policy of non-solicitation isn't the only way missions raise money. I'm really glad that we don't have to mix money into our conversations with people this year. That would be awkward and uncomfortable, a bit like being forced to have coffee with one of those fundraisers you often see in shopping centres.

When we catch up with people, it really is like friends catch up with one another. We don't go with an agenda. We answer questions and ask about our friend/s' lives. We usually offer our short photo album for people to look at and give them a prayer card, if they don't already have one. There is information on the prayer card about "partnering" with us (prayerfully or financially), but I've never pointed that out to anyone unless they asked about supporting us.

I want to ask you: "Have you had a bad experience while talking to a missionary?" But that will only produce negativity, which I'm not too keen on. How about: "Do you have any friends who are missionaries? Have you enjoyed catching up with them when they're in your area? What have you talked about?"


Camilla said...

My friend Wendy is a missionary. I last caught up with her a few years ago when they were in Australia. It was absolutely lovely. I'm looking forward to catching up with her again on Wednesday (if that still suits?)

Wendy said...

It absolutely does suit. :D I'll message you to figure out time and place.