Our undertaking to India really appeared to me, on its commencement, to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored. We had no one to guide us; and while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, ‘Well I will go down if you will hold the rope.” But, before he went down, he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit to this effect, that while we lived we should never let go the rope. You understand me. There was great responsibility attached to us who began the business. -Andrew Fuller
With there still being a good number of unreached people groups (deep mines, as Fuller referenced) we still need both people to “go down” and people to “hold the rope”.
It is worth noting that what Fuller had in mind when he said “hold the rope” was not a casual sort of making sure that the rope did not break but a solemn responsibility to provide as much assistant to this mission that he could. Fuller went all throughout England raising funds to help Carey and this mission to India.
The cooperative program is wonderful and it is a helpful way for churches to band together to “hold the rope” for foreign missions. But I am convinced that what is needed is much more than simply cutting a “tithe” to the cooperative program every Sunday. I believe Fuller would have agreed with a missionary named Jason who said:
“…there will continue to be millions and millions of people who do not hear as long as we continue to use spare time and spare money to reach them. Those are two radically different questions. ‘What can we spare?’ and ‘What will it take?’” (quoted by David Platt in Radical, 129)
Can I be honest with you? That question scares me and rocks me to the core. Throwing my spare change at missions means that I don’t really have to make a ton of sacrifices. But asking “what will it take” means that I have to ask questions about whether this book, this game, this meal, this _____, is actually purchasing food that does not perish or if it is simply making me comfortably numb.
What would happen if all the churches of the SBC began asking “what will it take” rather than “what can we spare”? What would happen if we’d spend less money on expensive buildings, programs, maintenance, salaries, etc. and instead through all of our money towards enjoying God and extending His glory? How different would our church look? How different would the world look?
As Piper has said, “you have three possibilities in world missions. You can be a goer, a sender, or disobedient.”