Asking Non-believers for Support: Is it Wrong?

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By on September 1, 2007   /   Leave a comment

Brad came to Christ in college and instantly started growing. It wasn’t long until he wanted to join a summer missions team to India. The only problem? He was required to raise $3500 and he didn’t have a home church, Christian family or friends. The only people he knew were his fraternity brothers. Sometimes fraternities do service projects to earn money to give to charitable causes. So Brad asked them if they would donate those funds to his mission trip. They agreed, as did two other houses he asked, and he was off to India.

When Brad returned, he gave a report of his trip to each of the houses during their weekly chapter meeting. In the midst of their usual cussing, drinking, and dirty-joke-telling, Brad shared story after story of young Indian students whose lives were transformed by Jesus Christ. After each meeting, Brad was able to recruit and lead a weekly evangelistic Bible study in each house and saw a number of men come to Christ. Brad was really the only light in their darkness and if he had never taken the time (or boldness) to ask them for support, that mini-revival may have never taken place.

Yes, he could have taken the holier-than-thou approach, turned up his nose, and spouted, “I shall not soil my hands with the filthy lucre of these infidels!” Billy Sunday, the crusade evangelist from the 1920’s, felt differently. He said: “I’ll take the devil’s money and I’ll wash it in the blood, and then spend it on the Kingdom!”

If you say you won’t ask for or receive gifts from non-Christians, I have a question. How do you know who is and isn’t a Christian? Personally, I refuse to play Holy Spirit and be the decider as to who is or isn’t saved. I encourage missionaries to ask every person they know to join their team and (who knows?) some of those appointments might transition into a gospel presentation! Besides there are Biblical examples of spiritual leaders asking for and/or receiving support from supposed “non-believers.

1. Nehemiah: Many scholars would say Artaxerxes was the most powerful man on the planet–but not a believer. Nonetheless, Nehemiah prayed and risked his life by asking the King to support his physical and spiritual rebuilding project back in Jerusalem (2:1-9). Nehemiah must have found favor with the King.  Artaxerxes gave him everything he asked for—and more.

2. Jesus: According to Luke 8:1-3, God in the flesh was supporting Himself and ministry through ongoing support from individuals. Whether or not He asked for support, the text doesn’t say. It does list some supporters: “Mary (called Magdalene); Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.” Most focus on Mary’s questionable past and how she may have acquired her money, but instead, ask yourself where did Joanna get the funds to give to Jesus? Probably from her husband’s salary, which was paid by…Herod! Was Jesus actually receiving support that came from this ungodly dictator who He knew would have a hand in killing Him? Apparently so!

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