In the Malawi district of Mwanza, 41% of the 138,015 people cannot read, write, or count. Nationwide, it’s 36% of adults, about 4.6 million people. Even more distressing, about twice as many women as men cannot read or write.
Illiteracy is a root issue. It leads to poverty, unemployment, and hunger.
When SOWERS sends a team to train churches in a new region to preach and spread the gospel, that team faces the reality of life in that community as well as the spiritual poverty. And while the costs of training are extremely low compared to sending Western missionaries, there are still costs.
Two Types of Need – Both Overwhelming
In early 2015, two huge cyclones decimated Malawi. Half the nation was affected, and basic survival dominated everyone’s time.
In Malawi and everywhere else SOWERS operates, we face two branches of need. These are the two reasons Sowers need support:
- A hunger and desperation for the good news of forgiveness and eternal salvation
- Massive poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and vulnerability to natural crises
That’s why we continue to depend on Western nations to support our Sowers. These are local missionaries. They are not from Kansas, or New Zealand, or New South Wales. They are from Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, and the Philippines. They live in the nations where these needs confront them every day. They were born there.
So while our goal is to see each nation support its own Sowers, it’s very difficult to sustain that. With such high illiteracy (including financial illiteracy) and unemployment, Sowers struggle to find people who can support them. Thus, they are left with
Two ways to fund their work for God’s kingdom:
- Start a fundraising project, such as a farm, to support themselves, their family, and their mission
- Rely on international support from nations with far more resources
SOWERS uses both of these options. But because of the harsh economic conditions in most of the nations we serve, relying only on the first option often isn’t enough. What’s more, God likes it when his family the church works together in unity.
How God Uses His Church – Even Jesus Had Support
It really is a perfect partnership. The people who can’t effectively preach to these nations because of vast cultural differences (Westerners) have abundant resources. And the people who can reach thousands of people in their nations with the gospel (Sowers) do not have easy access to financial support.
An effective evangelist is a full-time one who doesn’t have to worry about also providing for his or her own needs. Just as Paul wrote to the Philippians:
You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. (Phil 4:15,16)
Paul, the greatest evangelist in history, could not have spread the gospel so effectively without financial support. And at times, he had to stop his missional work and make tents to provide a living for himself. When he did this, what do you think happened to his productivity in sharing the gospel? It had to go down.
The same is true of Jesus. Even Jesus – God in the flesh – didn’t go out with his disciples without financial support. Luke 8:1-3 tells about a group of women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry:
“…Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.”
Jesus, Paul, and every Sower laboring for the gospel are far more fruitful when they can devote 100% of their energy and concern to their calling, knowing their own needs are being met.
So when you think about what moves God’s heart – generous and cheerful giving and support of his laborers is near the top of the list.
Trust, Accountability, Integrity
With SOWERS, your support goes directly to our local evangelists. Our board members and executive staff all work as unpaid volunteers. We also have a process for admitting new Sowers as supported associates. We only ask for financial support for those who have proven themselves as committed to the work of evangelism.
There is amazing gospel-work going on in these African and Asian nations. The heroic men and women going out on teams of Sowers to train leaders and plant churches need their own heroes to support them. And that could be you.
Because of the lower standard of living, fully supporting a Sower can be done for just a few hundred dollars a month! Think about that. They’re out there, sharing the gospel to thousands of people each year.
And for just $30, $50, or $100 a month, you can come alongside them and be a force for the gospel.
You provide the resources. They provide the gospel. Together, you make an invincible team, and you both fill God’s heart with joy because you care about what he cares about.
As Paul says in Colossians 3:
“Set your minds on things above, and not on earthly things.”