Summer is a great time of year. Backyard barbecues, running through the sprinklers, feeling warm breezes on bare arms and legs—most people claim summer as their favorite time of year. But if you’re trying to run a ministry, or meet a church budget, summer is a time of scarcity. People on vacation aren’t home to make donations or mail checks, and we rarely put something in the offering when we’re just a visitor somewhere else. Ministries that run on donations know that summers make them tighten their belts, so they send out scads of donation appeals. My mailbox is full of them.
Being on a limited income, there’s no way we can send money to everyone who asks. (When Jesus told the disciples to do exactly that—see Matthew 5:42 and Luke 6:30—I often wonder if he had our era of mass communications in mind!) The problem is that they’re all worthwhile causes. How can I possibly choose between puppy-eyed orphans, rescued slaves, starving families, unborn children, our local homeless shelter or food bank, refugees, and entire people groups without any knowledge of Jesus? Indecision leaves me paralyzed.
Here are the other two prayer points for my upcoming trip to Swaziland. If you missed the first two, I posted them last time.
While we don’t want to overlook opportunities to share God’s love along the way, the primary purpose of our trip is to serve the orphans and their caretakers at a particular CarePoint in Swaziland. Some of the children who attend live with extended family, many live on their own, with only brothers and sisters to care for them—or for them to care for. They’ve watched their parents and other family members die, mostly from AIDS. They’re scared, alone, hungry, and to a large degree, unloved.
It’s already August. Our trip to Swaziland leaves in less than ten weeks. What are we doing to prepare? A lot!
The most common question I get relates to money—how is my support-raising coming? I’m happy to brag on God. We were supposed to have $3,000 of the total $3,500 in our account by the end of July. Some goes to pay for the plane tickets. Some was to send to Children’s Hope Chest (CHC) so they could prepare for our arrival. For example, we will be delivering care packages to the children’s caretakers when we visit them in their homes. Since we have no real concept of what items are most needed and suitable, CHC will do the shopping for us, with funds we send now.
(If you missed the rest of my posts about my upcoming mission trip to Swaziland, you can read them here, here, here, and here.)
We have plane reservations! I’m staring at a piece of paper listing our flights… a red-eye from Denver to London, then another red-eye from London to Johannesburg. When we finally arrive, at 7 a.m. local time, bleary and jet-lagged, we’ll board a van provided by Children’s Hope Chest (CHC) and drive the six or so hours to our home base in Manzini, Swaziland. I hope I can still function that afternoon!
Thanks to God nudging some extremely generous folks, my support is slowly coming in as well. Although I missed the first deadline (we were supposed to raise $1,500 by the end of May to pay the deposit on our plane reservations), I’m on track for the next one—$3,000 of the $3,500 total is due at the end of July. As of last week, my account contained over $2,300—what an incredible answer to prayer!
I’m in the middle of raising the funds needed for my mission trip to Swaziland this October. A number of exceedingly generous people have contributed to my church account, but I have a long way to go. I admit, I’m struggling.
It’s not that I doubt God’s ability to provide. Pete and I have a long track record of God meeting our every need, even when things looked humanly impossible. My God is a God of miracles.
It’s not that I doubt my “call” to go on this trip. God clearly told me to go. I hadn’t even considered going to Swaziland before I heard his prompting, so I know I wasn’t confused by my own desires. The way he has put his motivation into my heart confirms his direction.
No, the problem is that I have a hard time asking anyone for money.
For the past few months I’ve been writing about my upcoming mission trip to Swaziland. I’ve prayed, researched the country, prayed, researched the organization we’ll be working with, prayed, attended team meetings, prayed, worked long hours in our church cafe to help raise the needed funds, prayed, and prayed. Now the time has come to raise up a support team. Yes, I need to send out a letter asking people to pray for me and to give financially toward the trip expenses.
How would you like to walk up to one of your friends and ask, “Hey, can I have $50 or $100 a month for the next umpteen years?”
How long do you think they’d stay your friend? Yet, this is what we expect missionaries and many other full-time ministry workers to do. It’s called “support raising.” Pretty awkward, yes?
We’ve managed to sugar coat it somewhat. We tell people it’s their chance to get involved in what God is doing. We promise significance. And if there’s any way we can connect them to what we do, we show photos of starving children or cherubic orphans.
Will you please support …
- my mission trip to India?
- Bible smuggling in North Korea?
- me as I go to England with YWAM?
- the college ministry I joined as staff?
- my church-planting ministry in Germany?
- our kingdom business in West Africa?
- our orphanage in San Salvador?
- the local rescue mission?
The list keeps growing. We have a lot of close friends and relatives who are supported in their ministries by donations. Our “Global” Sunday School class hosts a steady stream of missionaries all needing more money. And all our mission-minded friends have kids who are now graduating from college, joining various ministries, and raising their own support.
I’ve been commenting on an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.
In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:
I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. … From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”
If you want to read all ten myths now, check out the article online. You can see my other articles on this topic by choosing God:World under “Categories” on the right-hand column of my blog page.
Everyone knows about organizations such as World Vision and Compassion. How many people are aware of The Seed Company, and Alex and Laura Crum?
Every so often I come across a ministry that I believe is worthy of support, but is not well known. Perhaps they’re small, or working in a part of the world that can’t be publicized. Or perhaps they’re just starting out, as this young couple is, and could use a helping hand.
Of course, I realize that there are thousands of places to give your financial, prayer and other support—Pete and I can’t afford to support all the ministries we’d like to, either. We wish we were wealthy, just so we could give away more money. Giving is so much fun!