Monday, March 05, 2007

Sending Money to Persecuted Individuals or Families

A little over a week ago, someone called our office regarding an Eritrean family that they had read about in our children's publication, Bold Believer's Magazine. They had read about how this family was waiting for their father to be released from prison because of his faith and wanted to know if it was possible to send money to them.

This is a question that we receive fairly often here at the mission. People read about a specific individual or family and their heart goes out to them. They want to help somehow and so they ask us if they can send funds specifically to them.

The answer to this question is not as easy to answer as you might imagine, as each situation and country in which The Voice of the Martyrs works presents unique opportunities and challenges.

1) Often when we mention a particular individual or family in our monthly newsletter, they are already receiving or have received assistance from The Voice of the Martyrs. Our mission has established several special funds (e.g The Families of Martyrs Fund, The Relief & Development Fund, The Legal Defense Fund, and others. Click here for a complete list) that are supported by our donors. These funds allow us to have money on hand when opportunities arise rather than having to make special appeals that would only delay our ability to respond rapidly and effectively when needs come to our attention. Your donations help replenish these funds which we have already given to these individuals and families in advance. We are then able to help others because of your generosity.

2) Additionally, it is not always safe or possible for us to publicize that we are assisting a particular individual or family. We simply may not be able to tell you what we are specifically doing for them. In many persecuted countries, it is dangerous to receive funds from abroad. If their enemies were to learn that they were receiving funds from abroad, our brothers and sisters might actually suffer greater persecution.

3) Many Christians in Canada are also surprised to learn that it is not always advisable to provide funds to particular individual or families in restricted nations. Not all persecuted Christians need or want our financial help. Money is not the answer to every problem, of course. Apart from the security issues mentioned above, receiving funds from abroad may cause division in families, communities and churches. It can also create unhealthy dependency on outside assistance that would hinder their ability to meet their own needs (1 Thess.4:11-12). We listen carefully to what church leaders and our partners tell us in such cases and follow their direction.

4) Lastly, for the sake of honesty and financial integrity, we cannot always guarantee that we can get funds into certain restricted nations. The banking system in many countries is very different from our own. Often funds have to be hand carried into the country. Sometimes, even this is impossible.

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