The Parable of the Unwise Steward

by Michael Lyon
Posted on 1st September 2005

A lesson about medical insurance

The mission had great plans; to buy property for housing students whilst preparing them for local missions; to equip a mobile trailer with all the electronic gear necessary to power up a worship team, so they could reach out to the young street kids that would not normally come to church. In fact, this and so much more of their original vision now looked possible after many years of hard work and preparation.

Part of that vision also included having teams from back home come; to help with both the construction and the thousand other jobs that seemed to be multiplying daily. Therefore, it was with great excitement that the first team was welcomed.

John (not his real name) was part of that team. A good-looking young man that had much needed carpentry skills and a heart that wanted to serve the Lord. It was therefore a shock, when after only a few days when he fell off a ladder and had to be rushed to hospital with a cracked rib and collapsed lung. The staff at the local hospital did a great job, they helped fight off the infection that set in, so that after only a couple of weeks of further nursing (and many prayers) John was well enough to fly home and rejoin his family.

However, this was not the happy end of it. It transpired that John did not have any medical insurance; furthermore, neither John, nor his parents, were able to cover the cost of his hospital bills. They simply did not have the US$18,000 needed. Not only that, John's parents had assumed it was the mission's responsibility to look after their son whilst he was overseas. Therefore, with John now returned home, this left the mission base (and its long-term staff), as the only ones the hospital could seek payment from.

"What to do, lah?" as they say in Malaysia (where I serve). Neither John, nor his parents, could pay, so should the mission staff deign responsibility and, in doing so, build a barrier between themselves and the very people they are reaching out to? On the other hand, should they try to pay and see their vision delayed another decade? It is a hard thing to face, but thankfully, this story is only that - a story.

In real life, the story is a medley of those heard over the past few years from various missions around the world. More importantly, each was a wake-up call about stewardship and the need for missions to do something about medical insurance. We cannot always presume that, because we are carrying out our Lord's "Great Commission", we have divine protection. After all; we do live and serve in a fallen world. Therefore, I believe we need to be both responsible to, and for, each other within the body of Christ.

Michael Lyon is CEO & Founder of Talent Trust Consultants, a ministry providing international medical insurance designed specially for Church and Mission workers carrying out the Great Commission. For more info, see