What I would do with the Money
In the chapter, If you had $100 Billion, I asked the question about what you would do if you had $100 billion. Once we understand how money fits into the scheme of things, this spiritual exercise has great practical value. It will focus your spiritual vision and give you a better feel as to what’s truly important. You will become exposed to many new ministries and needs and will develop a deeper burden for the lost.
I have made much better use of my time and money since I undertook this challenge. I’ve been utilizing the resources I do have. I started by making a large list of needs and notes on how I felt those needs could be met. I pray specifically for each of the needs, asking God to supply the money and Christian workers. I give time and money where I can. On areas beyond my resources, I work hard to raise interest with other Christians.
I’ve even created my "World Evangelism Prayer List." This list (actually a book) contains all the projects I would undertake if I had 100 billion dollars. I have even estimated the cost and staffing needed so I can be more specific in my prayers.
In reality, a person with this much money would need to have tremendous spiritual maturity to stay focused on Christ. Although I hate to admit it, I don’t feel I could be entrusted with this much money. The temptations would be too great. I would have to put the money in a trust fund and set up several safeguards to protect the money from misuse. Fortunately, God has found faithful men, such as John Wanamaker, Henry Parsons Crowell, and Count Zinzindorf who did use their great wealth to lead others to Christ.
Everyone has different burdens and spiritual visions and the way I would utilize this money would probably differ greatly from how others would use it. However, I think the common goal of most Christians would be to ensure everyone has the opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the gospel.
Currently, there are thousands of reasons why the gospel message hasn’t reached everyone. Some are simple problems that can be resolved easily. Others are complex logistical problems requiring a great deal of effort to solve. In my opinion, the most efficient way of utilizing 100 billion dollars is to create an organization that will have three functions:
It would basically be a Christian research, development and deployment organization. For lack of a better name, I would call this organization Pioneer Technologies (PT). Although PT would be involved in many mission projects, it would not be a missionary organization itself, per se. As much as possible it would offer its services to existing missions. In situations where there are no missionary organizations working in that field, PT would help interested believers raise up an organization to meet the need.
Despite the mission work currently being done around the world, there are billions of people still without a consistent gospel witness. PT could attend to many spiritual needs right away. To identify the remaining needs (or as many as possible), a team would be assembled to make a thorough world survey. Besides listing the spiritual needs, this comprehensive survey would also include geographical, political, economic and other logistical limitations and bottlenecks.
Another team would then research solutions for these needs. Since computer technology and project management are my areas of expertise, I would create a special high tech computer network for research and brainstorming development. I have had a great deal of experience with research committees and know what things greatly enhance the flow of ideas. I would create special conference rooms where the members would have instant access to information and be able to express their ideas on a computer network that would display their ideas on multiple monitors.
While the research team is looking for solutions, another team would travel around the country raising prayer support for each of the projects. After some solutions were found, another team would work with existing missions to see if this solution is something they would want to pursue. If a mission could be found, PT would provide the solutions and resources. If an existing mission couldn’t be found to meet the need, another team would try to find interested believers to start a work in that field.
I firmly believe exposing a person to the world’s spiritual needs increases their spiritual vision. This is the reason why everyone employed by PT would spend at least two weeks a year on a "mission project." Every year it would be a different country with a different mission emphasis. If the mate or other family members were interested in participating, PT would pay their expenses too. Short term and summer missionary outreaches such as New Tribes Mission’s Summit, are excellent ways to meet current needs while exposing the participants to missions. I would like to see PT take an active role by sponsoring people who could not normally afford to participate.
Apart from helping existing missions, I feel it is important to seek out and help people who have a burning vision for a specific need. I have found these challenged people are often enterprising and innovative. Their passion tends to be contagious. It is these little brush fires that have the potential of turning into giant forest fires. This is the reason I want to nurture and support these people. If we want to set the world on fire for Christ, we must fan the little flames that rise up. The history of world evangelism will verify this. If you look at the great mission works (churches, Christian colleges, mission organizations, mission hospitals, etc.) they were usually a result of a specific person who had a fiery passion for the lost.
I’m also a firm believer in the power of prayer. For this reason all employees at PT would need to raise a certain level of prayer support. They would receive a paycheck as though they worked for a regular business, but they would conduct their spiritual life like they were missionaries. PT would create initiatives to raise up prayer support for various needs. I would also like to see several types of worldwide prayer "hot lines" (via telephones and the Internet) developed to solicit immediate prayer support for spiritual and medical needs. These hot lines would systematically dispatch the needs to interested individuals and churches around the world.
After several years of working on this spiritual exercise, I have itemized several needs that I would like to see met. Some of these projects are your typical evangelical outreaches while others are geared more for meeting specific needs of believers. Strong believers make better soldiers of the cross.
In the chapter, A Special Prayer Request, I talk about a couple projects I would like to see developed. They are the Phonetic Recognition System and the Computerized Bible Translator. There are other needs I would like to see met as well.
Transporting missionaries or supplies to isolated locations in the jungle sometimes requires canoeing or hiking for weeks. After a while airstrips are carved out in the middle of the jungle to provide easier access. Unfortunately, this is usually a manual process involving chain saws, sweat and man power which consumes a great deal of time and energy. To reduce this manual work, PT would airlift heavy equipment into the jungle to help build the airstrips.
Helicopters are often better suited for tribal work for a couple of reasons. First, it is much easier to build a small landing pad than a long airstrip. Second, they are better adapted for mountainous regions where landing a plane is difficult. However, the big problem with helicopters is they are expensive to buy, fly and maintain. Also, they need some special adaptations like larger fuel tanks. In areas that would benefit the most from helicopters, PT would set up a trust fund to subsidize the extra cost. PT would also help finance advanced navigational and safety equipment for missionary aircraft.
I would like to create initiatives to meet the special needs of children separated from their missionary parents. For example, I would like to develop a free (or at least affordable) satellite communication system so parents could hear and see their children on a continuous basis. I would also like to see a special trust fund set up so parents and children could visit each other more often.
I would like to see a procurement system setup to provide missionaries with equipment (computers, refrigerators, etc.) at about a third of the wholesale cost. Although PT could afford to provide these at no cost, I feel it is often healthier to provide a helping hand rather than a handout.
Indigenous Christian workers are Christians dedicated to reaching the people in their own country. Since they know the language, culture and customs better than most foreign missionaries, they often are more adept at reaching their own people. Also, their salaries and expenses are usually much smaller than their foreign missionary counterpart. More important, they are not viewed as "outsiders" so they often have fewer barriers to break down. I would like to see more Bible schools built outside the U.S. to train indigenous people. PT would set up a trust fund to pay the salaries of the indigenous preachers until local bodies could pick up their expenses. This is especially important in countries that are starting to close their doors because of political and religious opposition.
Short-wave Christian radio plays a major role in reaching large masses of people around the world, especially in restricted areas. Since many areas do not have strong churches to nurture new converts to maturity, the radio must be used to meet many of the spiritual needs. Therefore three main types of broadcasts would be needed. They are Evangelism, Inspiration and Growth, and In-depth Bible Study.
To provide a solid foundation for these believers, many hours of each type of broadcast would be needed. To effectively reach the top 500 language groups, many more transmitters must be built. There are over 100 languages with at least 6 million speakers and over 300 languages with at least 1 million speakers.
Christians entering the work force in the 21st century will need to have a solid foundation in the sciences and computer technology. Unfortunately, most Christian schools in the US and missionary schools overseas find it difficult to obtain the money to purchase the necessary equipment for their science and computer classrooms. I would like to develop a team that would work with these Christian schools to help them evaluate their needs and supply them with some of the costly equipment. If the schools are interested, their teachers could be given advanced training in chemistry, physics and computers.
I would like to provide technological assistance to existing Christian organizations. For example, when an organization wants to network their computers together, PT could provide hardware, software and expertise to set up their system. PT could also provide free network training to help them reduce the costly maintenance expenses.
There are many areas of the world that are culturally, politically or religiously closed to the gospel. To reach these areas a great deal of prayer, brainstorming and consultation is needed. Many creative initiatives may have to be tried before an opening is found. PT could help sponsor and finance such initiatives.
Another important resource for world evangelism is the media. The media, obviously, is a very influential tool. Various forms of multimedia have shaped much of our culture, political landscape and public opinions. Corporations and special interest groups spend tens of billions of dollars a year to influence people’s opinions. Although the primary purpose of most movies, TV shows and music is to make money, these mediums are often used to sway the opinion of the viewers and listeners. Movies formulate people’s opinion more than any of the other forms of media. The amazing thing is the ease and speed at which they are able to do it.
The reason for this is a phenomenon called "storybook acceptance." We have imaginative minds, and we enjoy daydreaming about unique, intriguing and unrealistic adventures. We enjoy books and movies that stretch our imagination and cause us to visualize the impossible. Since we realize certain stories are fiction, we are able to accept unusual or impossible scenarios, such as talking animals, super heroes or incredibly "lucky" people like Indiana Jones. As we ride along on these imaginative journeys, we usually view things from the perspective of the main character. Since we accept these stories as fiction, we are willing to view a scenario from many unique perspectives. The perspective from which a story is shown, usually determines the side with which we align ourselves.
For example, in one movie you’re on the side of a cowboy protecting the settlers from the savage Indians. In another movie you’re on the side of the brave Indians protecting their families and homeland from the pale-skinned invaders. Another example is a movie where you are on the side of the policeman who is fighting dangerous criminals. In another movie you’re on the side of a criminal who is fighting against a corrupt legal system.
To demonstrate how quickly and easily we change sides, let us consider how we flip-flop sides in nature films. In one film, you’re on the side of the lion trying to snag a deer to feed his family. In another film, you’re on the side of a deer trying to avoid the hungry lion. Although these stories are based on the exact same situation, you may change your alliance 180 degrees from one movie to the next. Since we view these stories as fiction, we don’t see a conflict with "changing sides" so easily.
This perspective alignment is what makes stories so influential. When you start identifying yourself with the plight of the main character, you begin to develop emotional responses to his problem, and you begin to feel the issue from his perspective. Movies are more influential than books because a story can be told in a couple of hours, and the visual and audio adds to the viewer’s emotional response. Although one movie usually doesn’t produce too much of a shift in a person’s overall opinion on a subject, it probably does have an impact.
My point is not to condemn movies. I personally think there is entertainment value in wholesome movies. My point is Christians should capitalize on this powerful tool.
Currently, many TV shows and movies feature people who are struggling against the "religious right." These Christians are portrayed as zealous bigots who are hypocritical, narrow-minded, unforgiving and intolerant of other life-styles. Although I won’t go into much detail, I have many initiatives that would utilize the power of the media to provide a more balanced view on some issues and to enhance the cause of Christ.
These initiatives could be used in the U.S. and in other countries. One initiative would be to finance the creation of movies that would demonstrate the dynamic power of God and the salvation message. To help these movies reach a larger audience, they need to be professional and of the highest quality. The new computerized special effects can provide creative options that were never available before.
C. S. Lewis’s series entitled Chronicles of Narnia and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress are a few books I would like to see made into movies. Frank Peretti’s books Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness are excellent books that describe the possible angelic fights which take place behind the scenes. What makes Peretti’s books so powerful is the way they show how our prayers influence the outcome of angelic wars. I feel these books could be made into powerful movies.
The abortion debate is another issue that has been greatly influenced by the media. Through the abuse of the media, the focus of the issue has been cleverly shifted to be viewed as a matter of "choice." This goes to prove no matter how ridiculous an idea may be, if you say it enough times, people will accept it. The pro-life protests have probably been the most peaceful mass demonstrations in the history of the U.S. (comparing the number of incidents per 1,000 protesters). Yet, the media has portrayed these protesters as violent demonstrators terrorizing innocent doctors who are simply doing their job. In fact, RICO, the antiracketeering law designed to destroy organized crime has been used against several pro-life groups.
History has repeatedly shown us when the core population of a country is indifferent on a subject; unethical actions are allowed to take place. Where there is a lack of passion, rights are trampled. Europe experienced this the years preceding the start of World War II. Currently the core population of America is indifferent to the issue of abortion. Comments like, "I personally believe abortion is wrong, but I believe everyone has the right to make their own choice," show people really don’t believe and feel innocent babies are being murdered. If they did, they would not stand for it any more than they would for a child being killed immediately after birth.
Having the support of the core population is essential in making substantial changes in laws to protect the unborn. Changing the attitude of the core population, even on controversial issues, is a realistic possibility. America’s new acceptance and tolerance of homosexuality is an excellent example. In the mid 1990s (after President Clinton used his presidential office to endorse homosexuality), several evening comedy shows featured episodes dealing with the "homosexual issue." The plots were remarkably similar. Usually a homosexual is encountered and some of the straight people are repulsed by it. During the show something happens to make the straight people realize there is a need for more understanding and tolerance of alternate life-style. The viewers were being shown, from the perspective of the homosexual, what it feels like to be a victim of intolerance.
In the following years many more shows were produced showing homosexuals as victims, stressing the need for coexistence. In 1997, there were over 27 comedy shows that had homosexuals portrayed in a positive light. This continued exposure has effectively conveyed the message of tolerance towards alternate sexual preferences. The message is clear; homosexuals are just like us and need to be accepted. America’s core population shifted its position from "homosexuality is wrong" to "I don’t understand why a person would want to be gay, but I think we should be tolerant of other people’s differences." When Ellen DeGeneres "came out of the closet" on her show Ellen, it became the first comedy to have a gay leading character. If this had been tried five years earlier, the show would have quickly died due to a lack of public support.
America’s core population no longer views homosexuals as people practicing an immoral and unnatural life-style. Instead, they are viewed as an "oppressed" group who are being victimized. Americans love the underdog. Americans look down on people who are mean to those who are victimized. Likewise, anyone who stands up on behalf of those who have been victimized are considered heroes. This is the reason so many talk shows and magazines have praised Ellen as a hero.
This shift in America’s core population in regards to gays was no accident. It was a well thought-out process. Without going into much detail, I’ll give you some highlights. Part of the push came from a surprising source: Disney.
According to the National Liberty Journal (May 1997), Michael Eisner, the CEO of Disney, said up to 40% of Disney employees are homosexuals. I am uncertain, however, if he was including Mickey, Goofy and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney was one of the first companies to offer medical coverage for homosexual partners. When it purchased the television network ABC, it extended this special coverage to ABC’s employees.
In May of 1996, (according to the article) Eisner allegedly asked Matt Williams and Tim Allen of the popular TV show Home Improvement about adding a couple new neighbors who were gay. After these new actors became popular, a new show would have been created for them. Commendably, Matt and Tim said no to their bosses. Eisner then allegedly approached Ellen DeGeneres, of the TV show Ellen, and asked if her lead character would "come out of the closet." She was more than willing.
The point I’m trying to make is, the core of America’s population can be influenced. I am convinced we can make Americans view the unborn as "babies." We must let Americans see these unborn as victims, not fetal material. Although random acts of violence may shut down some isolated abortion clinics, it hurts the pro-life cause more than it helps. The pro-life movement must carefully rethink it strategy to win the hearts of the core population.
Americans have a tremendous love and concern for babies. Just as a mother bear will passionately defend her cub, Americans historically have passionately tried to protect babies. We’ll do almost anything to protect them. Companies often use babies in their commercials when they are advertising a safety product, such as brakes. Politicians will say things like, "… this law will adversely affect children and babies…" when they are trying to gain emotional support. Incidents happening to babies gain much more media attention than if the same incident happened to an adult. Therefore, to win the battle on abortion, we must get the core of America’s population to think of the unborn as babies, not just "fetal material." We must get them to develop the same feelings and passion for the unborn as they do for babies. Once this happens, the average American would be outraged by how these unborn babies are being treated.
If done correctly, commercials could be used to help reach this goal. It is important, however, not to make "abortion" the issue in these commercials. Instead, you want to tap into the emotions people have for babies and then gradually let them see that there is no difference between the born and unborn. Since these commercials will not be confrontational, the viewers would not feel they are being forced into "taking sides." I’ve even written screen plays for several pro-life commercials and sent them to a couple pro-life groups. Although the issue of abortion does not directly affect world evangelism, it is a moral issue that cannot be ignored. History has shown us true Christianity has an obligation to take a stand against major moral injustices.
Another area PT would utilize its resources, would be the defense of Christians who have been sued for taking a stand on moral issues. Lawsuits are common tools used to intimidate groups and to create public policy. Supreme Court rulings carry a great deal of weight, thereby molding the direction of America’s future. This is the reason why several Christians have found themselves sued by the so-called civil liberty groups. Many of these groups spend millions to force-feed an issue through the courts. Most of these Christians, however, can’t afford to fight against these expensive high-powered lawyers, especially if they have to go to the Supreme Court. Fortunately, there are some Christian groups that have taken up these causes. PT could help pay some of the legal expenses.
There are many more projects I would pursue if I had the resources, but this should give you an idea of what I am thinking. Once again, I challenge you to try this spiritual exercise and see how it will affect your spiritual vision.
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