One of the important aspects of any mission and its future continuance is the financial side of those who give. If Christians are having financial problems, that is, overburdened in debt, then hardly anything will be left for supporting mission efforts. The question of whether it should be this way or not is rendered irrelevant since this is the practice in most people's lives.
You may think that I am writing about my own support, or that of other missionaries and mission works, but I am actually writing about the local work here in Brazil. Brazil is booming economically. People have more financial buying power than they have ever had before by the increase in salaries, easy credit, some lower interest rates (although lower, they are still around 280% a year on major credit cards, yes, that is not a mistype). Most everyone is buying new cars, new TV's, new everything, and going into major debt. This is also happening with a lot of Christians. The similarities of this new economic "freedom" remind me of the U.S. in the 90's.
If the church is to become mature and support its own workers and mission efforts then the Christians need to control their buying habits, live on less than they make, and save for emergencies by being content with what God has given them. I have been teaching the João Pessoa church, material from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course. I asked for his permission to teach and distribute some of his material. He happily agreed, and I began translating and teaching. I have even had the privilege of cutting up Terezinha's credit cards.
I traveled to Patos this past weekend where I also taught this same Financial Peace material over a 16 hour intensive class. I was already hearing the comments about saving to invest in God's Kingdom and stop wasting money on our own desires. I also preached, using the parable of the Unfaithful Steward in Luke 16:1-13. It was great to spend time with these Christians and to be encouraged by their desire to seek God's will in everything they do.
The mentality of those taking the course has changed, and with time the signs will show. Please pray for Terezinha, the church in Patos, and all of those who have gone through this course so that God's Word may spread with more speed and through good examples.