Posted by: Steve | January 17, 2008

Health care – Pain or Gain? (Part 1)

Increasing medical costs worldwide have made health insurance an essential element of personal financial planning. Health insurance is not optional in today’s world. In recent years, we have witnessed several missionaries benefiting from the FIM health insurance plan in substantial ways. We have also witnessed extremely high medical burdens accumulating on some who chose not to participate in the plan when that option existed. In accord with sound financial policy, and to better care for the FIM family, the FIM Board of Directors has determined that missionaries are required to enroll in the FIM group plan. The following information will explain why the Board of Directors requires missionaries to participate in the Fellowship International Mission group plan. The operational motto of the Mission, “Flexibility in ministry with Integrity and Accountability,” applies as much to the operation of the Mission in general as it does to the individual missionary. We use the word “integrity” in its sense of “soundness.” In Titus 2:7, Paul exhorts Titus to teach with integrity. The word used in the King James Version, “uncorruptness,” carries the idea of “chaste, without contradiction.” The term denotes general soundness. The New International Version has captured the meaning by saying, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. . . .” We at FIM value sound doctrine, but we also want our organization to be characterized by soundness. We want churches and individual donors to regard what we do for the cause of Christ as worthy of their support. Such soundness benefits the ministry of God’s Word in multi-faceted ways.

Consider these principles that help define that “soundness.”

Principle 1 – FIM bears a responsibility to God. God’s standard for us as believers is to measure our lives and ministries by whether or not they bring glory to God. As a Mission, we need to insure that God’s name is not defamed because we failed to care for the health insurance needs of our missionary family. The Mission bears a moral responsibility to prevent missionaries, their supporting churches, and individual supporters from being burdened with crushing medical bills. In addition, God is glorified when we care for His servants in the best possible way. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In addition, God expects our ministry to be conducted in an orderly way. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”

Principle 2 – FIM bears a responsibility to the sending churches of our missionaries. Most churches today place high expectations on their partner mission agencies. They expect mission agencies to implement policies that are in the best long-term interests of the work their missionaries are doing. Health insurance is typically a part of that expectation.

Principle 3 – FIM bears a responsibility to the Christian community at large. Good healthcare comes with a huge price tag. Missionaries without health insurance typically turn to their churches and individual supporters for funds to cover those costs. This burden drains away resources that would be better spent other ways and induces an “emergency” approach to giving.

Principle 4 – FIM bears a responsibility to its missionaries and their families. Unexpected healthcare expenses can compromise the future of missionary families by adding stress and limiting ministry. Often the only resources missionaries can use to meet unexpected healthcare expenses are funds previously set aside for other purposes. Spending down these accounts seldom solves the problem, but simply relocates and delays the burden.

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Responses

  1. Great Principles. When faced with the facts the reality is that it is better to be sure that your missionaries are on a good health care plan. Churches and organizations alike must agree on this in light of the health risks around the world. Of course, when the bill comes or the premiums go up, it is easy to forget how important our health is. So what’s more important: a missionary on the field in good health and able to complete the task God has called him to or one who is there, at the expense of churches and supporters, but not able to complete the task because of expensive health related issues? The answer is obvious! If we are to be about the work God has called us to we must be responsible and diligent. As for the expense, our God can provide! (You might want to copy this to pull out of my file on a later date 🙂 )
    We ought to revisit these principles from time to time as a reminder! The cost may be great, but our God is greater!

  2. I appreciate the comments from Steve Wilt about the importance of health care. I am one of those examples that he referred to concerning missionaries who have faced recent crises in health. I have just recently returned to the field after a six and a half month stay in the states for cancer treatments. After treatment I am cancer-free! Praise the Lord! But I also have the relief knowing that I do not have any outstanding medical bills facing me as I return to ministry.

    Two and a half years back I was diagnosed with a
    blood clot in my leg. This also could have set us back financially without the insurance. Up to this time I had been physically fit, and not too long before had been running marathons! Who would have thought that a person like me would develop health problems? So, despite the rising cost of health care, it is worth the investment when I consider the alternative in costs I would have accrued without it.

  3. I am wondering if this refers to Canadian FIMers
    as well? Presently I have complete coverage under the Belgian Plan, which in itself is quite costly, but one is well covered. One is also covered under this plan when travelling abroad.
    Greetings from Belgium,
    Donna

  4. Participation in the FIM health plan is optional for non-USA citizens. With the socialized system in Canada, it might constitute an un-necessary expense. My post referred to the US situation. In Canada, citizens pay for their health care through the tax base instead of paying premiums to private companies.


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