When my family decided to answer the call to missionary service, we didn’t realize that we had just become professional fund-raisers.
The missionary model of support is a strange one. Some church denominations send missionaries through a centralized board that is financed by each of the churches in the denomination. Missionaries are approved for service in a particular region by this board and funds are allocated for their ministry accordingly. In this way each person tithing to these churches is in an indirect way supporting missionaries all over the world.
That is not how our denomination does it.
Our church and our sending agency, World Harvest Missions, follow a more common model where each missionary must raise their own support before they can be sent to the field. That money is what will get us over to London, and the continued support of our partners is what will pay my salary and keep us on the field. This means that we have to reach out to individuals and churches independently in the hopes that they will “get” our vision and calling and partner with us financially. It is a tougher row to hoe in many respects. Especially since my wife and I are not really wired for asking people to give us money.
I grew up with a work ethic that says that you are paid for the work that you do. Do good work, climb the ladder, grow your skills – then reap the benefits of this hard work and be compensated accordingly. This new model of raising support BEFORE you can do work is in many ways foreign to me. Not to mention that it demands putting a serious check on my personal pride.
But maybe this is a good thing.
Raising support is definitely a struggle. We have no guarantees that the support needed will actually come, so we can’t really plan for the next year of our family’s life. We hope to deploy to London in September of this year, but we also have to make backup plans. This is a very tough space to be in sometimes and my wife and I both struggle with the uncertainty. However, this uncertainty requires that we have a more true dependence on God. We can’t just talk about faith, we have to truly live each day as it comes, believing in God to lead us and provide for us.
But maybe this is a good thing.
This model of support means that we must reach out to many people, in many different ways. We have done concerts, held events like Fun Runs and St. Patty’s Day parties, sent correspondence via mail & every electronic venue available and spoken to churches, Sunday school classes & small groups. This has put us on the road, out of our element and in front of countless strangers, who we pray will not only get this vision, but decide to be a part of it.
It has also put people in our path that bless us in huge and amazing ways. We have partners giving literally thousands of dollars to our ministry. We have met missionaries who have prayed with us and spoken into our lives in very personal and powerful ways. We have performed music for churches and groups and gotten to see the Holy Spirit move through the room. We have seen the movement of the Kingdom through the generosity and support of God’s people around us.
I know that this is a good thing.
While it would be easier for us to accept one large check from a mission board to finance our family and our ministry, it would not lead us into relationship with the amazing folks that are supporting us now and, hopefully, for the next five years. It would not connect us directly to the individuals that are generously sharing their money, their lives and their blessings with our family. It would not allow us to put faces on these acts of generosity and to thank them all personally.
This is a very good thing and perhaps a big reason that we are on this path, no matter where the final destination turns out to be. We pray to be sent to London, but in the end we are blessed just to be on the journey. By going on the mission field, our family is sharing our love for the people of India and expressing our gratitude for the wonderful blessings that God has shared with us, and they are many. We are putting ourselves on God’s time and seeking His plan for our lives.
This is a wonderful thing, even through the struggles.
Jan. 21, 2014