“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7
Boots on the Ground International’s history as a ministry is currently being written but the calling of it is a great story. Our time in the ministry has awarded us the privilege of not only going all over the world on mission trips, but also meeting and befriending many who have answered the call to be full time missionaries. In 2010, on a mission trip to Africa, Mike and I heard God speak very clearly to both of us. Though we did not feel the call to permanently go on the mission field ourselves, we felt God call us on that trip to financially support those who are. The problem was we were not even married yet and already facing debt and financial burdens. Our next steps became clear.
Immediately after our return from Africa, we got a hold of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University curriculum and started implementing it in our life. We learned how to handle money God’s way and over the next three years, as well as getting married, we paid off all of our debt and started giving obediently and radically above our tithe to church and missionaries. We also started teaching others to do the same through Financial Peace University small groups. Through subsequent mission trips to places like Haiti, Peru, and Nicaragua, our passion and calling has only grown stronger and clearer. God is calling us to use our financial story and know-how to get others to financial freedom to unlock their kingdom giving power. What would happen if missionaries felt the support of people united together behind them? How much faster and more powerful could the Gospel spread around the world if missionaries were freed from much of the burdens that tie them down and handicap their ministries? What difference could they make if instead of leaving the field prematurely due to burnout, they were spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially healthy to stay and finish the task to which they were called? Enter Boots on the Ground.
Worldevangelicals.org did a study on missionary retention rates that categorized reasons for leaving the field as preventable or unpreventable. Unpreventable reasons include such things as death, retirement, expulsion from country, visa problems, etc. The preventable loss of missionaries is what concerns us here. According to this study, “the number of missionaries leaving for preventable reasons is increasing over the past 20 years. (1.69% per year during the period from 1981-1985 versus 2.17% per year during the period from 1995-2000.)” The study then asked missionary agencies to list the factors that most hinder missionaries from staying and completing their objectives. Lack of finances was the number one factor.
David Cox, a missionary to Mexico, pointedly addresses the issue. He says, “Because of the high cost of getting Americans to other countries, fluent in the language of that country, acclimated to the culture of that country, and working the work of God there, we need to be very concerned about missionary drop out.” Paracletos, another missional organization, estimates that more than 7,000 missionaries will drop out in a year, which equals one every fifteen minutes. Even more sobering is their estimation that of those 7,000 dropouts, 70% are from preventable reasons. According to Alongside, an organization committed to reducing attrition in all areas of ministry including pastors and missionaries, “it cost an estimated $250,000 to $400,000 to recruit, equip, and send a new missionary family to replace each family that has to leave the field…” These are staggering statistics and shows the need for missional support such that Boots on the Ground International can offer.
We plan to make a change by employing 4 strategies:
- Provide RESOURCES through giving. Boots on the Ground exists to ease the financial burden on missionaries by being good stewards of the money God has entrusted us with, as well as, using our God-given creativity for fundraising.
- Provide REINFORCEMENTS through team trips. Boots on the Ground exists to ease the physical burden on missionaries by providing fresh hands, feet, and muscles to accomplish large outreaches, service and building projects, and anything the missionaries need assistance to accomplish.
- Provide REVITALIZATION through prayer and fellowship. Boots on the Ground exists to ease the spiritual and emotional burden on missionaries by providing encouragement through prayer, communication and friendship. It will also accomplish this through providing opportunities for vacations, retreats, and other restful activities for missionaries and their families.
- Provide opportunities for RESPONSIVENESS through awareness. Boots on the Ground exists to provide opportunities for all those not in active missionary deployment to engage in the battle by giving of their time, talents and treasures to see to the advancement of the Gospel.
We currently support missionaries in several places around the globe. Many of these countries cannot be named online due to the need of security for our Partner Missionaries, but can be discussed offline. Suffice it to say that they are spread throughout the continent of Asia, in Europe, and in Africa, with more soon to come. You can read more about our Partner Missionaries, their ministries, and our mission to support them on our website: www.bootsonthegroundinternational.org