A spate of headlines about the falling value of the dollar have caught many by surprise. But these recent headlines have simply confirmed the reality we have been struggling with here in Colombia for many years. Unnoticed by most Americans until recently, the dollar has been losing value for years now. Recently this trend has caught the eye of journalists and tourists and this fact has gained coverage.
Many headlines now bemoan the fact. Examples include leading newspapers and small town journals. The New York Times observed that there is â€œUS Silence on its Weak Dollar.â€ Newsweek bemoaned â€œThe Incredible Shrinking Dollar.â€ MSNBCâ€™s headline read â€œHow the Dollarâ€™s Plunge Hurts You.â€ And so one newspaper after another has been startled into consciousness by the unavoidable realization that the dollarâ€™s value has collapsed. While there have been previous ups and downs, such a sustained and pronounced decline in the American dollar is a phenomenon never seen before.
While there have been fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dollar and other single currencies from time to time, this is the first time ever that the US dollar has fallen consistently and steadily against nearly every other currency in the world. While the affect has been slight; maybe even positive for the United States, especially in the area of exports, it has been a significant problem for missionaries around the world. Here in Colombia, we have been affected even more than most other regions.
Purchasing power of the US dollar here in Colombia has plummeted. Many of our routine expenses have increased 400% or more in the last six years. In the case of our college scholarships, they have increased nearly 1.000% in that same time. As a result we have been forced to continually cut back on what we are doing here in the country. I have limited my travel but there is a need to visit and teach in the churches. We ceased to give out new college scholarships until a current student finishes and graduates. We suspended our printing ministry and only recently restarted it. But even now, we are not sure we can sustain it.
While we understand that income is often static or challenging in the States as well, we do encourage you to take this fact into account when setting your missions budget. Missionaries tend to be very frugal people (for example, we are driving a fifteen year old car to avoid spending money on a new and more dependable vehicle) but there is a limit to how far one can stretch a dollar. Please help us avoid further cuts in ministry at a time when opportunities are at their greatest. If you are able to increase your missions giving, the Lordâ€™s work here in Colombia will benefit.
As God opens great doors of opportunity, this is not the time to retrench and cut back. Join with us in praying that God provide the means as He opens the doors for greater service and increased harvest! Join with us in making certain that we do not have to ignore these doors that God has opened to us.