“There are the Protestant lay pastors in Latin America, many of whom work at secular occupations so that congregations unable to support them full-time might still have a ministry. Even if they were full-time, they would receive a minimal stipend, well below $100 a month.” – from God Does Not Foreclose by David Lowes Watson.
Although I object to calling bivocational or “tentmaking” ministers “lay pastors” (are they inferior to full-time ministers, and thus the “lay”?), the quote above fully describes the position my brother-in-law Marcelo is in. He is Brazilian and receives only a minimal stipend from one American congregation. To support his family and keep the ministry going, he works full-time as a high school teacher. He stretches his finances and his personal strength to the limit in order to share the Gospel with people, baptize them into Christ and then disciple them in the Way. What he does is nothing less than amazing to me.
There are good books out there on the topic of tentmaking ministry, but nothing is more instructive than witnessing a life lived in this way. It sounds noble and we tend to romanticize it, but the reality is hard. Bivocational ministers are rarely recognized for what they do outside of the local church, if even there. They are often taken for granted, and they certainly don’t do their work for fame or fortune. They do it for the love of Christ and the hope of the Gospel.