It is also important to note that the size of the military ministry
does not impact the level of support for the missionary. These men,
like all other missionaries, are supported by local churches in the
United States. When a missionary sees his church grow or he moves
to a larger ministry, he does get more people, more potential, more
priorities and more problems, but he does not get more pay!
2. “I would rather support a church planter than a military pastor.”
Most people in the United States do not understand that a
deployment to serve overseas is typically 24 to 36 months. This
means that one third of a military church transfers out every year!
Every three years the congregation almost completely turns over.
Every year the pastor, through evangelism and hard work, has to
replace one third of his congregation before he can even begin
the process of growing the church, and every three years he has
to plant his church all over again in the same place! The only true
difference between what we normally refer to as a church planter
and a military missionary is that the military missionary carries the
burden of existing financial obligations whereas the church planter
builds buildings as his church grows. The military missionary has
a building to pay for even as his people leave every year. A military
missionary plants a new church every three years, but he does it in
the same location.
3. “These missionaries have access to the military installations and do not have to live like ‘real' missionaries.”
Many people believe that because our missionaries are Americans, they have access to the same privileges as the
military (Commissary, Base Exchange, hospitals, restaurants, etc.). It is important to know that these well-deserved
base privileges are available only for active duty and retired military. Most of our military pastors can get a base pass
to visit their church members but they cannot buy food or goods on base. They get their necessities, gas, food, and
furnishings from the national stores and shops. This is a significant point because those that have base access pay
$3.50 per gallon of gas, at this writing, while the missionaries in Japan pay almost $6 per gallon!
Like other missionaries the military pastor goes to national hospitals, dentists, mechanics, grocery and department
stores and restaurants. I am much more familiar with the military works in Japan than Germany, Italy and others,
and I can assure you that the cost of living is much higher in all of these countries than it is in the States. One
missionary recently rented a house with two bedrooms and was forced to pay almost $3,000 per month! This is also
the reason that these men must be supported by churches in the States. In the United States churches are often able
to provide housing, insurance, a gas allowance, and a vehicle for their pastor. To do that in Misawa, Japan, would cost
over $6,000 per month in a church averaging 80 on Sundays. That does not even include a salary!
Conclusions This is not an article written by a missionary trying to raise support. As an evangelist, I have had the privilege of
visiting several of these military works, and I can tell you that these churches produce fruit for the cause of Christ
like few other works can. Currently, there are over 300 (this is a conservative number) churches in the United States
and around the world that are pastored by men who have surrendered to ministry in military churches. Away from
many distractions found in the United States, many of these men begin to work on Bible college courses, often set
up in local church Bible institutes. They leave their deployment and return to the States ready to plant or pastor a
church. Many, after seeing missions in action, surrender to serve the Lord on foreign fields once their tour of duty is
over in the military.
There are thousands of others that spend their deployment attending one of our military works. They receive a
constant stream of hard-nosed Bible preaching. They are taught the importance of Faith Promise missions and are
instructed in the biblical principles of tithing. They teach Sunday school classes and sing in the choir. After two years
overseas serving our country and attending a “Bible Boot Camp,” they return to the States and serve the Lord in
churches across our land. They become men with the discipline required to serve our country and the discipleship
required to serve their pastors.
We could write three articles this size and still only scratch the surface. It is my prayer that many who read this brief
article will gain a better understanding of military missions and in turn get a greater burden for their support. When
these men call, schedule them. When they come to your church, pray with them, and when they leave, support them.