How do I refuse to support an Evangelical missionary?

A dear Evangelical friend of mine has, for the second year in a row, sent a letter to her friends and family asking for support for her upcoming mission trip. This year she is going to Ireland, with a group that, according to its website, tends to go to predominantly Catholic countries, although their materials do not specifically claim an anti-Catholic bias.

Last year I just promised her my prayers.

This year I feel called, in love, to explain to her why I cannot in good conscience financially support this endeavor, through a written response to her e-mail. My primary motivation is love for Christ, for her, and for the people among whom she would share the gospel (with a limited understanding of it).

Any suggestions on the best way to witness to her?

First, let’s understand exactly what your friend is doing. She is repeatedly soliciting friends and family – in, presumably, a form e-letter – for funds for her missionary endeavors … and without regard for the religious convictions of those to whom she is sending her solicitations. She is exploiting her personal relationships with friends and family to embarrass them into supporting something they may not otherwise dream of supporting. Given that, you would be justified to treat such solicitations like other spam you receive from charities you do not wish to support and delete them without response.

However, this is your friend and we should charitably presume that it has not occurred to her that her solicitations are in poor taste and could be considered offensive by those who do not share her religious beliefs. Rather than engage in an argument with her over her plans to evangelize a Catholic country, the charitable thing to do would be to explain to her that she may be straining relationships with other friends and family who are less tolerant than you of her behavior. If this results in her having to stay at home and earn her own way for her trips, then you will have accomplished the task of stopping her evangelism on this trip to a Catholic country without having to mention it at all. If not, at least you will have demonstrated more respect for her religious convictions than she has demonstrated for yours.

If at all possible, don’t write. Call or meet her. A person-to-person contact has more chance of persuasion. Whatever means you choose, I suggest saying something like this, as gently as possible:

I just received your letter and wanted to talk to you about it. I’m sure you did not intend it this way, but the letter is an impersonal solicitation. I know that you only wanted help in funding your mission work, but it is awkward for me as a Catholic to be asked – without regard to my personal convictions – to sponsor your work simply because we are dear friends. Since we are such good friends, I know your intentions were only the best, but perhaps others on your mailing list do not know that and have been inadvertently embarrassed and hurt by your appeals.

Recommended reading:

How I Solved the Catholic Problem by Kristine Franklin

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