In January 2008, when I began a two hundred day mission down the East Coast of Africa, food prices
were increasing by the month and within a year, the price of oil per barrel had more than doubled.
The global economics of the basics of life had drastically changed thus putting millions of people
in developing countries in dire straits. The news media reported global demonstrations and riots
over the cost of staple foods and spiralling oil prices demanding that the government assist them.
The price of oil peaked at $147 a barrel and experts said it could go as high as $250, though by November
it had dropped below $50 a barrel. The knock-on effect of increased oil prices is transferred to virtually
everything, but especially public transport, and food distribution. For many, the financial crunch hit
home and even in the West many of us began to buckle our belts and make saving as best as we could.
If the cost of living is hitting our household, then spare a thought for the missionaries abroad and other
fellow labourers, many of whom have come to Britain to sow back into our needy land. How much harder must
their struggle be?
On my return from the Africa Mission I was reading about the life of (James) Hudson Taylor who founded the China
Inland Mission in the second half of the nineteenth century; the phrase economise to evangelise came to
mind as he lived a very frugal life in order to be better equipped for his part in the Great Commission
– ‘Go into all the world and preach…’
Hudson made cutbacks, he bought cheaper food, less coal for the fire and walked more frequently rather
than take public transport. He economised so that he could not only survive, but thrive and evangelise.
On occasions there was hardship as he took up his cross daily, but through them, his training ground,
many life lessons were learnt which would be invaluable on the mission field.
His economising was with an eye to God heart – ‘For God so loved the world…’ and through Hudson’s lifestyle he was able show forth
the practical love of God; not only in word, but in deeds as well. By his sacrifices he was able to be an
extra blessing to the families he visited in the slums of London, assisting the poor, distributing tracts
and preaching. His cutbacks also helped fund the extra expenses needed to pay his medical college fees
and within two years he sailed for China (a five and a half month voyage) and arrived in Shanghai in 1854.
In China, Hudson was a medical missionary; but one who did not go with the flow. He lived to serve God,
to serve the Chinese and came down to their level to identify with their needs. This self sacrifice of
living in Chinese dwellings, eating Chinese food, wearing Chinese clothes as well as having a Chinese
style haircut and pig tail was outrageous for many a European missionary who scoffed at the naïve lad
in his early twenties. But his economising, in the midst of famine prices in Shanghai, not only saved
the missionary society money, but opened many doors for itinerant and pioneering evangelism inland where
the name of Christ had never been heard. He would go on to found the China Inland Mission (1866) and by the time of
his death, he had over one thousand workers, with a CIM missionary in every province in China who were proclaiming
the riches of Christ.
So, now that we are in the twenty-first century, what can we do? I believe we can all economise to evangelise
and be better stewards of that which is entrusted to us. I believe we can all make cutbacks, even
if only a little and use that money to help fulfil the Great Commission.
‘…It is required in stewards that one be found faithful’ (1 Corinthians 4:2).
For some, we may have to make saving just to pay our bills and should pore over our monthly finances
to see what is an essential need and what is not. Shop around for gas, electricity, phone, internet,
satellite or cable TV provider, car and home insurance etc. and big savings can be made. Likewise, when
we go shopping we should also ask ourselves, is this item a need or a want? Do we need it because it is essential;
we cannot do without it, or do I want this non-essential item?
Economise to survive to thrive and evangelise. Self-denial for the betterment of others is not only
a good discipline, but the life that Jesus lived. Be imitators of Christ.
Handling your Finances
The Great Commission
Mathew is the author of:
Revival Fire, 150 Years of Revivals Go
Extreme Faith, On Fire Christianity Go
Global Revival, Worldwide Outpourings Go
Discipleship For Everyday Living, Christian Growth Go
Understanding Revival and Addressing the Issues Go
Revival Answers, True and False Revivals Go
Revival Fires and Awakenings, Thirty-Six Visitations of the Holy Spirit Go
How to Plan, Prepare and Successfully Complete Your Short-Term Mission Go