The annual Mercer’s Global Cost of Living survey has been released for 2008. It uses New York City as the basis to compare costs-of-living around the world. All statistics are measured in U.S. Dollars.
The results: Moscow is the most expensive city in the world, followed by Tokyo and London. (I lived in Moscow during the summer of 1993 for $400/month, including a furnished apartment, food and transportation. That kind of a deal is clearly ancient history.) New York is down to #20 and the only U.S. city in the top 50. The complete survey results can be found here. It’s interesting that São Paulo and Rio de Janero, in South America, are nearly as expensive as New York City.
The weakening dollar has a key impact on costs… making American cities comparatively cheap for non-Americans while U.S. executives sent abroad by their firms face huge bills in dollar terms. Mercer research head Yvonne Traber comments, “Cities in eastern Europe, Brazil and India are creeping up the list… The difference in cost of living can be significant, particularly for those executives with families.”
Substitute evangelists for “executives” and we see why Christians should be mindful of the weak dollar.
We do not feel its direct impact in the United States (though it is a factor in high oil prices), but it has caused evangelists in other countries to lose much of their salary. They must convert their support dollars into the local currency. They receive fewer and fewer Euros/Pesos/Rubles, etc. every time the dollar weakens. This becomes a significant pay cut, and at the same time food and fuel are growing more expensive. It’s is a double hit for these men and their families.
Today’s Dollar simply does not have the power it used to in the world. My recent trip to Colombia cost 1/3 more than the same trip two years ago, mostly due to the Dollar’s weakness. (In 2006 I received 2,500 pesos to the dollar. This summer I received only 1,610 per dollar.)
Nearly all evangelists in Colombia receive thier support in dollars and must then convert it to pesos. With the weaker exchange they have lost over 30% of the salary that they had in 2006. Some have been blessed with increased support to compensate for the shortfall, but others have received no increase of any kind and are hurting.
We in the U.S. deal with expensive food and gasoline like the rest of the world, but without the kind of salary loss felt by evangelists in South America, Europe and other places.
Christians and congregations of Christians in the U.S. provide for the needs of many brethren around the world. We have been, and still are, the only ones blessed to help on such a scale. Biblical principles must always guide this type of service to the Lord and His people.
The ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. (1 Corinthians 9:11-14)
This is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality– at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
I know some Christians and congregations already consider the impact of the weak Dollar and have made up the difference as much as they are able. As servants, we should remain aware of the needs of those we sustain so that our service to them, and to the Lord, may be complete. God sees those who take care of His people, wherever they may live.
In Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:16-19)