“At one point, I was working in conjunction with a local Cambodian pastor to train some of his members to plant daughter churches. The soon-to-be church planters sat in a circle, and I asked them to share their experiences of why and how they came into a faith journey with Jesus. Their testimonies revealed that most of them began their faith journey because they received glasses, rice, land plots, or employment from Christian organizations. Upon hearing their stories, I knew that their experiences of how they came to know Christ would greatly affect their church planting approaches. As the church planters launched into various areas to plant churches, they began to ask the pastor and me for glasses, rice, land, and jobs for other people as a means to share their faith. The pastor did not have these types of resources readily available. I considered my options and realized that the only way I could keep this church planting process alive was to feed into the chain of unhealthy dependency. I was not willing to create a spirit of dependency around myself. So I declined their requests as well. One by one, the church planters quit when they realized they would not personally receive ongoing handouts and salaries or goods to pass on to potential believers within their realm of ministry.
Despite the majority withdrawal, several of these Cambodian church planters stayed the course. As they visited people and shared about Jesus, a question was repeatedly posed to them: “How much money do you make, and can you get me a job too?” Folk Buddhists among their community perceived the Cambodian church planters as paid hirelings of a foreign organization. Even worse, many Cambodians perceived those who joined the “Jesus religion” as traitors who were lured by opportunity for handouts, money, and jobs.”
We Are Not The Hero
By Jean Johnson