Missionaries in Europe, parts of Africa, and the Middle East are spending their dollars faster than ever. As the dollar declines relative to foreign currencies, many overseas missionaries are finding their buck doesn't go so far as it used to. Many have had to cut back on spending or even return to the U.S. to fundraise. Mission agencies are also finding they need to spend more money to maintain their overseas operations.
"The decline in the dollar is affecting our international development programs, in some cases quite dramatically," says David van Vuuren, vice president of international operations at World Relief.
Over the last two years, the dollar has significantly fallen against the euro. Worth more than 0.91 euros in February 2003, it has fallen to 0.76 euros in February 2005. The end of 2004 was particularly difficult, says Wendy Norvelle, spokeswoman for the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. From August 2004 to January 2005, the dollar fell roughly 0.10 euros, from 0.82 to 0.72 euros against the dollar. Many economists say prolonged government budget deficits and consumer trade deficits have pushed the dollar down.
The dollar's value has decreased almost 30 percent over the last year. Douglas LeRoy, assistant director of Church of God World Missions says that of the denomination's $30 million annually spent on overseas missions more of it is going to Europe in order to maintain missionaries' buying power. The most difficult country for missions to be in is Russia, says LeRoy. The rest of Europe and other countries in the Middle East and Africa, where some economies are tied to European currencies, have also been difficult.
Both the Church of God and IMB adjust missionary salaries so that ...1
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