Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Property Ownership and Missions Giving

Why the issue of property ownership can affect missions giving?  Part I

     A missionary has to deal with the property issue every time they are involved with a construction project.  Why? Because as missionaries we are often responsible for missions monies directed towards the project.  We have a responsibility to protect the interests of the donors.  But even greater is the responsibility we have to the Lord and His kingdom.   This investment of missions funds, just like any donation to a church, demands accountability.  Often the missionary serves as a conduit to meet the needs.

Securing ministry properties is a must.  Recently, I had to talk to a local pastor who is running  a school for Haitian children. In our country the Haitian community is very marginalized.  Many are illegally in the country, or with lapsed legal papers.  Very few of their children are in the public school system.  They don't speak Spanish, they don't have legal birth certificates, they may not have the income for the public school
Debbie and Ryan Pauly Visit the Haitian School
uniforms.   That is why we have become involved in helping this school reach out to the Haitian children.   Without an education, their chances of breaking the poverty cycle is slim.

We have served as channels in one way or another to provide nearly $5000.00 US for this project.  The lastest expense was a hand dug well on the property.  Their building is made of what we would consider scrap lumber in the United States.   We donated some used student desks to help and some sports equipment. Funds paid for the floors, walls, bathrooms, and roof of the building.  The donors were thrilled that they could make a difference in these young lives.  As humble as the surroundings are, there is a sense of peace and joy in the school.  The children look happy. The pastor and his small staff are providing a good education to about 60 children, who would otherwise have no education.

The problem is that the school is functioning on a piece of property that belongs to the pastor's daughter.  We would love to help provide a better facility for this school.  But when approaching churches in the US for help, there is always the question of who owns the land.  There is a risk that one day the daughter will sell the

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the Origins of our Missionary Calling

 There is no space in this journal to tell all the factors leading to our becoming missionaries. To save time I will say that Debbie and I met at Southeastern University (then Southeastern Bible College), Lakeland Florida in 1976. We were both missions majors. Which means we both felt a call to missionary service before we came to college. We both felt a call to work with Hispanics, and in fact both worked together, starting the first semester there, in an outreach program to migrant workers. We had both lived

overseas previously to attending college, and so had some experience already in communicating cross-culturally. We both spoke Spanish; Debbie was more fluent then myself. What we lacked was ministry experience. After graduating from SEBC, we attended two semesters of Wycliffe Bible Translators' Institute of Linguistics. This was an intense program to prepare missionaries for working with unreached people groups (UPGs) with no written language, or no Bible in their language. At the end of our year there in Dallas, Texas, we decided that our call was to work with Spanish speaking peoples. We moved to New Jersey, near Debbie's family, and worked to provide for our growing family (2 kids by this time), and immediately tied in with a Hispanic church that was starting in the basement of a pastor's home (Canaan Christian Church in Jackson, NJ). We began working with children, organized a children's church, a Royal Ranger scouting program, taught children and youth in the Sunday School program, and even had the opportunity to preach every once in awhile. Meanwhile, I had a year of my educational benefits (the GI Bill) left, but these would run out soon. After seven years in New Jersey, we sold our home, packed up and moved to Columbia, SC to study at Columbia International University (then Columbia Bible College and Seminary). We were excited about this school as it had a tremendous missions emphasis. I worked on my Master's Degree there in Bible, and Debbie on hers in Education. It was 1985 then, and we had three children when we arrived there. After a year of studies there, we began a Spanish speaking fellowship called Fuente de Vida. We felt there was a great need for this ministry. The 1980 census showed that there were over 5,300 Hispanics in the greater Columbia area. Today this church has over a hundred hispanics attending. We pastored this church for seven years before moving to the Dominican Republic.

  So how did we get to the mission field? In 1990, an evangelist friend, Pastor Roy Porter, mentioned that he had been going into the Dominican Republic to
Pastor Roy Porter from Greenville, SC
The 2012 Liberty Ministries Team 
minister for a number of years. He mentioned an upcoming trip in September and Debbie's heart began to beat rapidly. She really wanted to accompany the team. By then we had five children, and it was no easy task for Debbie to find free time to get away for an afternoon, never mind a whole week. I volunteered to take care of the family while she accompanied this team from Liberty Ministries, SC. She had a wonderful time of ministry, and her fluent Spanish was an important contribution to the team. That trip had a profound impact on Debbie, who now felt sure that God wanted us in the Dominican Republic. Of course, I reminded her that as head of the home, it was a decision we needed to be agreed on, and not hers to make by herself. Evangelist Roy Porter made it easier for me to arrive at a decision, he paid my way and Debbie's way next year to accompany the team as translators. We actually took Ruthie our oldest daughter with us on this trip also. I had never experienced such a reception in ministry. Everywhere we went, people responded to the message. We saw hundreds of people come forward to express a commitment to the message of Jesus Christ in services. As we handed out Christian literature on sidewalks in towns, people received the tracts gratefully. We had people coming to our hotel asking if we had New Testaments. One day, Debbie and I took a walk to a local park in Barahona, where we had been ministering for three days. As we were sitting on a park bench, two young men came up to us with a question. "He says the world will end soon, what do you say?" I told him that the Bible teaches that no man knows the hour or