What should be done when a foreign preacher asks for money?


Regarding the article "The Corruption of Money": What is the proper and scriptural way to support the work of preachers overseas? How should we approach situations where people write asking for money for individual health care or building buildings? I ask about these in particular because I have seen those often (and you've seen them abused) and I wonder if that isn't in a class of things belonging to local responsibilities (as compared to helping famine as in the scriptures). Instead of supporting strangers, should we be supporting people like Paul; men who taught us, worked with us, and whom we know personally?


When you look in the New Testament, congregations and individual Christians supported preachers whom they knew. Such support was a way to share in the work that they were doing. "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5). "Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-16).

Too often people feel that throwing money at a problem is the answer to everything, as satirically stated in Ecclesiastes 10:19. Becoming personally involved takes more time, but it is needed.

When you are considering supporting someone you haven't met, first take the time to get the know the person. Visit him and talk to others who know him. Too often a congregation will more quickly send money to someone who asks than a company spends in considering whether to hire someone. We have ample warning in the Scriptures that frauds exist. We are required by God to investigate. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Only when you are satisfied that the person and the need are legitimate should money be given.

Of course, the frauds understand this. That is why the appeals are always "urgent." They count on the sympathy of people to send money because there is no time to check. But remember that you are dealing with someone you don't know. There is always time to check and it is worth the effort since you are stewards of God's funds. Even if it means having to send someone to a foreign country, it is still worth the investigation.