From the beginning of our life and work together, we have valued simplicity: a lean, low-overhead, “simple” approach to our ministry.
From the Handbook we read: “In the use of money and goods the Mission believes that it is God’s plan for its workers to live on a modest and sacrificial scale rather than on an abounding one. Expenditures for maintenance and equipment are held to a minimum, consistent with the requirements for useful service. The missionaries and workers live and conduct their work in as simple a fashion as possible, while seeking to maintain health and good order” (¶ 40).
There are many reasons for the emphasis. Let me mention three:
Focus. Money will burn a hole in your pocket, we are told. And it is true. Once landed in your pocket, money has an extraordinary power to command your head and heart. You wonder how to invest it. You worry how to spend it. And soon you are doing things, not because they are helpful spiritually or missiologically, but simply because you can. The focus of your life, too often, is diluted-or sometimes coopted altogether. Our commitment to simplicity recognizes the power of our possessions to infect our priorities. We want to be “simple” in focus. We want to be driven by one, flaming center: to make disciples of the nations. And we do not want to become over-complicated with things.
Stewardship. We have received our resources as gifts from God, whether people, or talents, or dollars. We believe it our responsibility to employ them as purposefully and effectively as possible. Our commitment to simplicity is a commitment to stewardship. We are committed to the adventure of fine-tuning our lives, decisions, habits, and priorities as stewards of Christ and his Kingdom.
Witness. Jonathan Lindell wrote: “We must live in a world….We need to relate all of our lives to a world-a hungry world, a sick world, a lost world. This must not be just theory to us either, but life!” (The Spirit of God was Moving, p.66) Christian witness must follow the example of Jesus: who emptied himself and took the form of a servant (Philippians 2). This will mean daring acts of identification among the poor, and self-giving service among the world’s hungry and lost. Our “simplicity” must serve our witness.
This is our commitment. But there is nothing austere about this life. Indeed, there is simple joy in simple abandonment to the person and purposes of Christ.