High fuel prices affecting ministry abroad

By June 16, 2008

International (MNN) — We begin a five-part series on the high cost of fuel and its impact on outreach. This week we'll talk about how the high costs are affecting evangelism, relief work, missionaries, mission aviation and short-term work. Today we'll take a look at how rising costs are affecting evangelism, both at home and abroad.

According to Slavic Gospel Association's Vice President of Ministry Operations Eric Mock, the high cost of fuel for gasoline, heating and cooling is impacting their agency in every area of ministry. He says it "has caused the operations of the seminaries and Bible institutes we support to go up. It's reduced the amount of ministry supplement that we provide to church planters, meaning they cannot travel to remote villages where often they're planting two, three or four churches beyond the church that they're already involved in."

It's also curtailing the Orphan Reborn visitation outreach program. Mock says, "They've had to cut back to a couple time a month, which greatly reduces the effectiveness and the range of outreach that they can have."

While the high cost of fuel is affecting everyone in the West, Mock says it's having an even greater effect on them. "With the cost of fuel proportionately being even higher in countries like Belarus than it is here in the U.S., and considering their salaries are a fraction of what we're provided here, the fuel costs are almost insurmountable. So when we as a partner organization are not able to assist them, it shuts down their ability to move forward."

Mock is praying that increasing donations will help the national work.

Living Water International has 5,000 water projects in 13 countries, and diesel fuel is used to power each drilling project. The high cost of diesel fuel is causing them to cut back, which is affecting evangelism. "It has caused us to delay drilling projects. Every time Living Water International installs a well, we share the Good News of Christ, because that's why we do what we do," says LWI's Bruce Whitmire

Bible Pathway Ministries' Al Joslyn isn't optimistic because the high fuel costs are affecting donor nations, too. "People are experiencing the difficulties of having to pay for their vehicles to go back and forth to work. It eats into most of their contributions, or at least some of their contributions."

Higher fuel costs are causing problems for the evangelism and discipleship distribution. "Postage rates have been continually going up. Shipping companies are having surcharges for their shipping. Even our printers have been affected by this, as well. The cost of transport by everyone is being passed down."

While high fuel prices aren't helping, Joslyn says it's not hampering God. "God still supplies our needs according to His riches and not according to ours. So we need to be paying attention to what God says rather than necessarily the bad news of the economy."

Whitmire is asking people to pray: "Pray as they've never prayed before, especially for ministries like Living Water International who are so dependent on fuel to minister the Gospel to people and, also to look and see how we can give more."

Tomorrow in part two of our series, we'll take a look at how higher fuel prices are affecting relief efforts.

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