Frequently Asked Questions
About Christian Aid
Christian Aid helps independent indigenous ministries in poor or closed countries throughout the world. The main focus is to help mission groups doing pioneer missions in areas difficult to reach with the gospel—usually where North Americans cannot go as foreign missionaries.
What is the primary purpose of Christian Aid?
To establish a witness for Christ in every unreached nation, as well as to encourage and strengthen evangelical Christianity in nations where Christians are persecuted or few in number.
What is your ultimate goal?
When the disciples asked for a sign of the end of the age, the Lord told them that the gospel would be preached in all of the world as a witness unto all nations (Matthew 24:14). Our goal is to be used of the Holy Spirit to complete the Church and fulfill this prophecy.
Do you send out foreign missionaries?
No not at all. Instead Christian Aid collects funds from missionary-minded Christians in the United States and sends them to indigenous mission agencies in poor countries. These agencies then send out missionaries, citizens of nations where they are evangelizing.
Does Christian Aid "use the nationals"?
Absolutely not. Foreign missionaries who hire local citizens to work for them coined this phrase. Many foreign organizations lure workers from indigenous groups that have no funds to pay them, and turn them into hirelings. This neo-colonial practice has decimated local groups and hurt the cause of Christ in many nations. Christian Aid does not use Christians in other countries, but we do send help that enables them to do the job God has given them to do.
So what is the difference?
God uses native missionaries to build His church among their own people. In contrast, American missionaries use citizens of other countries to start branches of their denominations or mission organizations. This practice allows the Christian faith to be identified as "institutional colonialism" or "cultural imperialism." We help indigenous missions only.
What is the future of missions?
We at Christian Aid are thoroughly convinced that native mission groups will be able to evangelize their own lands and plant a witness for Christ among every tongue, tribe and nation.
"Give us the tools, and we'll finish the task," they say.
The most exciting, challenging, and rewarding era of missions is immediately before us. Your participation now will advance the kingdom of God as never before.
How does Christian Aid get the job done?
How do you check overseas groups?
Before any help is sent, Christian Aid makes sure the ministry is biblically sound, financially accountable, evangelistic in practice, and of good reputation in their country. Each ministry is checked to insure that it is not linked--or is a branch of--any foreign organization, but is truly indigenous.
How do you visit groups on the field?
Christian Aid area directors and other staff have traveled to many countries to visit indigenous groups to verify the ministry first hand.
Some staff missionaries were born in the countries they represent, and thus when they return “home” they are able to communicate in the national language.
In some countries Christian Aid has mission surveyors who visit groups to see the work in operation. They are able to see the mission headquarters, and observe native missionaries at work on the field.
How do you maintain financial integrity?
First of all, we do not send funds directly to individual missionaries. We send support to the group’s mission board, who together oversee the distribution of support to the missionaries.
Our intention is to inform at least two persons when funds are sent. This assures accountability, and encourages the mission to be fiscally responsible. Each year Christian Aid requests an accounting of all funds received by each group and how they were disbursed.
How do you learn about indigenous groups?
Our area directors and field surveyors are constantly on the lookout for effective native ministries in their own countries. Trusted leaders of ministries we are helping frequently refer us to other groups they think we should help. Often we receive letters or emails from groups who may have seen our website, or met indigenous groups currently helped by Christian Aid.
In addition, a countless stream of foreign ministry leaders visit our U.S. headquarters. They represent active ministries with anywhere from a handful to hundreds of missionaries on the field.
What do you do for indigenous ministries?
As a headquarters base for hundreds of mission boards based in poorer countries Christian Aid essentially serves mission groups, working for them, doing their work here in America by receiving gifts, providing receipts, sending funds overseas, writing newsletters, and advocating on their behalf. This service greatly helps the ministry which could not afford the huge expense to set up and operate their own personal headquarters in the U.S.
How do you meet your own operating expenses?
Christian Aid is grateful for those who believe in our ministry and regularly give for our operating expenses. Every effort is made to keep such expenses to a minimum.
Christian Aid receives help in many ways.
- Once a year the mission sends mailing asking regular supporters to give a special offering for headquarters operations.
- Persons who sponsor missionaries or children are encouraged to add something extra to cover administrative costs. Those sending designated gifts also do the same.
- Certain individuals name Christian Aid Mission in their wills.
- A number of Christians place annuities as deferred gifts. These funds are held in reserve until the donor goes to be with the Lord; then the funds are used for the ministry.
About indigenous missions
How do you define the term "indigenous"?
It means "native to the land." Indigenous Christianity is not an imported denomination or other foreign organization. A palm tree from Panama transplanted in Pennsylvania will not survive because it is not indigenous. But fertilizer from Pennsylvania applied to the palm tree in Panama will cause it to thrive in its native soil. Likewise, financial help from believers overseas can strengthen an indigenous ministry.
What about tribes and nations with no Christians? Don't foreigners initially have to reach them?
Essentially, all unreached people groups have relationships with believers through marriage, trade or similar neighboring tribes. At times, native missionaries must build upon a cultural overlap, such as learning variations of a native dialect to communicate with certain tribes in their countries. Our job is to find these believers, discern which ones are effective and send our help.
How many native missionaries exist?
More than 400,000 are on the fields or ready to go. Approximately 100,000 of these have no regular support, but are evangelizing and planting churches in their own nations with the few resources they currently have.
Under which mission boards do these indigenous missionaries serve?
They serve under the discipline of independent faith mission boards that are based in their respective countries. All of these boards are separated from apostasy and rooted solidly in the authority of God's infallible Word.
Are they accountable?
Definitely. Christian Aid has carefully researched and interviewed the leaders of the mission boards we assist. All must demonstrate that they are faithful stewards. These missions maintain full accountability for their missionaries, both financially and spiritually. Most have audited financial statements.
Where do all of the native missionaries come from?
As new churches are born out of evangelical revivals in Asia, Africa and Latin America, they very quickly begin to send out missionaries. Hundreds of these gospel workers have forfeited secular employment to serve the Lord full time in faith.
How can we be sure that native missionaries are sound in doctrine and Biblical in their practices?
Christian Aid appraises indigenous mission groups, examines their doctrinal statements and evaluates the fruits of their ministries to ensure that they are adhering to God's Word. Many of the leaders of these groups have been students in America and we got to know them while they were here.
Don't we first need to train the nationals before putting them on the field?
Thousands of indigenous ministries operate Bible institutes and missionary training schools that provide practical field experience with focused classroom teaching. Christian Aid has sent support to more than 150 Bible institutes in China that have trained and sent out tens of thousands of native Chinese missionaries. Many native missionaries have also opted to study abroad at evangelical colleges and seminaries in America, Canada and Europe.
About giving to Christian Aid
Won't giving money to indigenous works lead to corruption or fiscal irresponsibility?
Christian Aid never gives funding directly to individuals. We send help to mission groups whose leaders are responsible to one another. The group leaders then transmit the support to the workers. Every missionary is under the discipline of the leaders of his group. We have yet to see a case of corruption where all workers reported directly to supervisors who were citizens of their own country.
Shouldn't indigenous churches be self-supporting?
They always are. Christians in poverty-stricken nations generally give a far greater proportion of their income than do believers in wealthier nations, even though their burdens are greater. They must feed the starving as they care for widows, orphans, lepers and other destitute believers. These churches are self-supporting, but there is no such thing as a self-supporting mission board or Bible school. They must pray for support from God’s people all over the world. Christian Aid does not support local churches or pastors. We only send funds to mission boards to help send out missionaries.
Why can't indigenous mission boards provide support for their own workers?
The majority of these mission boards are based in lands of abject poverty. A billion people, including many evangelical Christians in Asia, Africa and Latin America, cannot find jobs that will provide cash income. They stay alive by growing tiny plots of rice, fishing or hunting insects. Those who do have paying jobs give generously and sacrificially; however, their wages are so low that the total sum of their tithes and offerings may only be a few dollars a week.
How much support does a native missionary overseas need?
Support needs vary by location and circumstances. Those who work in cities require more than those working in rural villages. Likewise, those who are married with children require more support than those who are single. You can help provide the needs of a native missionary for $50 per month.