Thank you all so much for offering your helpful suggestions. Bessy and I have gone over every comment. Many offered insights into cultural issues, help with the next step and other useful suggestions like sponsorship. Here’s what we have come to believe:
1. Most of the 250 readers are NOT in the poorest of the poor. They have cell phones, computer access, etc. They are what we would consider “middle class” in a country where the middle class is very small but not under the abject poverty on the masses. These people are often involved in serving the masses of poor.
2. The culture endorses “free” which leads to entitlement and we do not want to support that – it isn’t good for the community and leads to an individual “what’s in it for me” mentality. We Christians have preached a free grace gospel so long that we no longer believe there is a cost to grace. There is. It cost God His Son. But we are now endorsing a “give me” gospel. This is not what it means to be part of the Body.
3. There is little real value placed on spiritual things in this environment – other priorities take over – this is true in churches and with Today’s Word. This is perfectly understandable with the wretched poor. They are in survival mode. But our readers are generally not in this situation. Sacrifice is also part of the Body. Without it there is little real spiritual growth.
4. There are real “need” cases, none of which we will ever turn away. All they need to do is ask.
5. The support we are asking for is NOT for Today’s Word or At God’s Table or me – it is for their own community – so that we are able to do things in that community that fall through the cracks like we do in the English speaking community. We want to encourage members of the Body to act like the Body. That is the purpose of Today’s Word – to put hands and feet on the Scripture.
6. The cost to provide the above is relative to the culture, so $20 does a lot more there than here. Nevertheless, there is still a cost. We have born this without asking for anything for 4 years now.
7. We don’t care about the money (other than for #5 above). We care about the VALUE to the community. Without any response, the perception is that there is little value placed on this effort. Since Bessy lives in this culture, I value her opinion on the cultural issues we face. Today’s Word is not a “ministry” in the classical sense – given away at someone else’s expense. We did that for 7 years. What we want to build is a community of believers who learn together and work together for the benefit of each other. OUr community does not have to support bricks and mortar, salaries and overheads. We support each other. That’s what we believe is the biblical model – the fruit from each life supports the other lives.
8. I doubt that most of the 250 readers are using internet cafe access or that they can’t afford the access – I have met a lot of them. While they earn little compared to our USA standards, I don’t know a single one who cannot give anything at all. And since the giving is merely a sign that they want to help build the Body in Central America, I don’t believe God expects us to enable a culture of receivers. Meat, not milk. No more baby bottles.
9. When we decided to move to a donor model in the USA, there were 5000+ readers. Now there are 500. Everything is better. People care for each other. The teaching is real and makes a difference in behavior. I wouldn’t have cared if we had 12, but God answered that decision and we have grown by 150%. It never happened until we said, ”Make a commitment.”
10. I think that “opt-in” may be a reasonable alternative, but it does not meet the goal of #5 and, basically, they have had 4 years of “opt-in.”
11. I think transactions by internet may be a problem, but we might overcome that with some alternative. I don’t know how to do this yet, but I don’t think that this explains the lack of response from 95% of the readers.
So, we are going to explain once more that this is about the Body, supporting and committing to the Body of believers in your own culture where you have first-hand experience. We are going to ask once more for some sign of commitment, either write to us and ask or send some donation that we can use to help each other. And then we are going to cut the list in a week or so.
Bessy has never received any funds for her labor. I have never taken a salary from At God’s Table. It’s time for the Spanish community to realize this and support this effort – principally Bessy – because they all benefit from her work, and a workman (or woman) in God’s service deserves to be taken care of by those served. She has agreed to continue to translate even if there are only a handful. I hope that will not be the case, but I firmly believe that it’s time to stop this entitlement thinking in Christian circles.
Thank you again for all your input. It is wonderful to see so many who have a heart to help. If you do wish to sponsor someone, we can do that, but my guess is that what really would matter would be to sponsor Bessy’s work. She will be the one adding those who wish to stay but cannot donate.
May the Lord be blessed. May His name be lifted up. And may His people reflect His character. We are ready and willing to give of ourselves, but we know that the objective is to pass along the willingness to give, not the gift.