When it comes to poverty in the context of Christian missions, Scripture seems pretty straightforward. When we encounter people who are financially impoverished, we should endeavor to address their needs. Simple, right? But when I started to “unpack” a few Bible verses, I quickly realized that God’s commands about poverty can be applied to several aspects of Christian missionary work. Here are three verses that I found particularly provocative.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)
I started with this verse because it’s a great reminder that being financially impoverished is only one kind of poverty. When we meet people on a missions trip, we should keep in mind that we can serve them spiritually and physically. We can pray silently for them, we can pray with them, or we can ask them what they’d like us to pray for. This verse also reminds us that there are far worse things than being poor in a financial sense.
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. - Leviticus 25:35 (ESV)
Leviticus is always a great source of verses that make me wonder “Am I supposed to follow this literally?”. If all Christian missionaries obeyed this verse to the letter, we’d be bringing new roommates home every time we went to volunteer abroad. That’s not exactly what I take from this verse. It seems to emphasize the importance of maintaining communication with the people we meet on mission trips. I love the last phrase, “…and he shall live with you.” It reminds me that we should continue to minister to them even after we’ve returned home.
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. - Proverbs 28:6 (ESV)
How many times have well-intentioned Christian missionaries made promises to those that we meet on our trips, then failed to follow through on them? No matter how pure our intentions are, making promises that we’re unlikely to keep is more reminiscent of the crooked rich man than of the poor man with integrity. I’d rather make a few promises that I’m committed to keep than make a whole bunch that I won’t be able to keep.
It’s never too early to start praying about your next Christian missions trip. Whether you choose to do work in the US, or to volunteer abroad, you’ve got plenty of options with Mission Discovery. Please don’t hesitate to visit our website to see the variety of mission trips we have available for all ages, genders, and lengths of time. Now is the time to start planning for a mission trip with Mission Discovery.