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99% of UK Christian mission workers struggle to pay living costs, Stewardship charity finds

99% of UK Christian mission workers struggle to pay living costs, Stewardship charity finds

People pray inside St James's Church at Piccadilly in central London, Thursday, July 23, 2009. | AP Images/Sang Tan

Almost all Christian volunteer mission workers in the U.K. do not have enough money to cover basic living expenses, new findings from a Christian charity show.

According to data from Stewardship — a U.K. organization that supports more than 250,000 mission workers in all kinds of projects — most full-time volunteers in Christian ministry "forgo basic needs and fail to meet financial demands throughout the year," Premier Christian Radio reported Wednesday.

The group's chief generosity officer, Daniel Jones, told Premier that for many volunteers a broad range of reasons exist as to why they struggle to get by.

"Often it's with incidental expenses. Often it will be getting by on just enough, relying on sometimes some direct support from close family or friends," he said. "But it's when some of those bigger expenses hit that problems occur — the car breaks down, there isn't anything in the savings pot to cover a rent increase, etc.

He added: "For people working overseas often it might be cases of illness where there isn't the NHS that they can fall back on and therefore having to pay for additional medical costs."

Jones went on to say that while trusting God to provide is necessary and that asking people for financial support can carry a stigma because some tie it to lacking faith, seeking such support is actually biblical.

"I see evidence in the Bible of times where God's people have been shown and encouraged by the Lord to fundraise and to go to others within the community of believers to say, 'Look, I'm doing this particular gospel work, please, will you will you support me?," he said.

Jones' group is in the midst of a campaign to give every full-time Christian mission worker who is part of their organization additional support of $129 during the Christmas period.

While the financial challenges mission workers face while serving are testing enough, they also face such hardships once they return.

According to CDF Capital, formerly known as the Church Development Fund, because missionary work is not lucrative, when they return home it is probably not a to a full savings account.

"And even if the believers who supported their mission work are financially helping them transition out of the field, it will not happen indefinitely. This puts returning missionaries on very insecure footing," the firm noted in a November 2017 post on the struggles returning missionaries face.

"For many of us, having a car break down or getting sick is a temporary setback, but for missionaries trying to get some financial traction, these challenges become huge obstacles. Many missionaries feel like they are one catastrophe away from devastation."

Stewardship is a London-based charity committed to strengthening Christian causes and that has been in operation since 1906. The group boasts on its website of helping more than 25,000 individuals annually give approximately $772.6 million to a database of over 19,000 charitable causes.

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