While I was terrible at math throughout my school-days, my answer to this titled-question will include two equations: the first and foremost incorporating theological math; the second, numerical, regarding our expected expenses for the year ahead.
Most sincerely and significantly, the math of our mission is built upon the utterly extravagant provisions and purposes of God. (A library couldn’t contain all the books and articles written about God’s life-giving, life-transforming gracious gifts, but I will attempt a succinct explanation of the theological root of our missional motivation.)
Deb and I believe to the core of our being that Psalm 24:1 is as true as any mathematical theory: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it….” We have life; we’ve had an abundantly good life (more than we could have expected or deserved); we have family and friends; we’ve had good health; we’ve enjoyed countless adventures and pleasures; and, most crucially, God’s grace broke-through our self-centeredness to inspire faith and what we hope and pray has been on ongoing growing and outward-focused understanding of faith; we have been blessed with talents we have felt called to use not just as a means of income and prosperity but to be used in service to others–Deb within nursing and me within pastoral ministry.
Deb and I also believe God’s economy of grace is relevantly and expectantly true as presented in Jesus’ parable of the Merciful Master (Matthew 20:1-16), who showed grace to ALL and gave equally to ALL those called to work in the vineyard–those who began work the earliest and thought they deserved even more and those who worked just an hour at the end of the day and who were considered undeserving by those who were hired (shown grace) first. God has created each and every human as God’s good, beloved, deserving child created in God’s own image, which is the spirit of grace and generosity in which we hope to serve our Malawian sisters and brothers.
Finally, Luke writes, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Sounds so simple and yet it has taken Deb and me a lifetime to respond to our sense of call to “Go” and “Give” and “Serve” people who are among those considered least across the globe of nations. (Most people we have told about our upcoming year abroad have not heard of Malawi; in fact, they say they thought we said we were going to Maui.)
In the big picture of all we have received and all we have saved, what we will be giving-in-service will compare to a drop of rain in draught-stricken Malawi. Nevertheless, we will humbly and gratefully contribute our drops of giving of time, talents and monetary donations, trusting that God will use them there for God’s good and gracious purposes.