Here in the Central African Republic (CAR) the dry season is on the way. Rainstorms are becoming less frequent and shorter. Soon the rains will stop altogether until April. People hope that the crops they have stored will carry them through till the harvest next fall.
It seems that dry season has also arrived at ELCA Global Mission. The church-wide office in Chicago foresees the possibility of a 30% reduction in giving. This is apparently in protest of actions taken in Minneapolis a couple of months ago. This reduction comes on top of a 10% funding cut earlier this year, due to the world-wide economic downturn. Losing so much funding in one year has required GM to make some drastic cutbacks in personnel and programs.
Regardless of anyone's opinions regarding the actions taken by the General Assembly, protesting by withholding funds has serious consequences which are detrimental to the work of our partner churches, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the CAR (Also known as the EELRCA, after its French acronym). Due to this sudden drop in funding, ELCA-GM has been forced to withhold the 4th quarter grant to its partner churches. The EELRCA counts on these quarterly contributions of ELCA, which constitute almost half of the EELRCA's annual budget of $670,000 (less than the annual budget of some larger congregations in the U.S.).
Without ELCA's promised 4th quarter contribution, church projects are now out of money here in the CAR. Salaries cannot be paid, and may not be paid for several months. With no money for activities or salaries, the development, education, and evangelization projects funded by ELCA in CAR cannot do their work and are closing their doors. Other programs continue, but without the necessary funds, how long will they be able to keep on providing services?
For example, where Deborah teaches at the Theological School, students may have to go without their $40 a month stipend. Some of the students there gave up careers such as teaching to become pastors – and more pastors are desperately needed in the CAR. Now they may have to watch their children go hungry. Money for doctor's fees for their families will be impossible to pay.
Others who may suffer include AIDS patients, villagers waiting for clean water, and families who cannot afford medicines or school fees for their children. We don't think that ELCA members who have decided to withhold funds from Chicago wish for these outcomes, or even know that as a result of their actions people are suffering in the CAR.
Now is the time when you can help turn this situation around. We thank you for your continued support of our ministry, and ask your help to convince others to continue to support the work of Global Mission, especially in the neediest countries, such as the CAR. May God bless you as you serve Christ in your community and around the world.
Your missionaries in the Central African Republic,
Joe and Deborah Troester