“Realize that support raising is your first ministry assignment.”
Some would-be missionaries tend to view support-raising as a necessary evil before they can get to a ministry assignment. Support raising is actually a ministry in itself – one that stretches and affirms your own faith as well as blessing those who become part of your support team. It is, indeed, a special type of ministry, and your first chance to help change people’s lives. Engaging people in God’s Kingdom work and providing opportunities for them to be involved and to have an impact is a special part of your calling as a missionary. Embrace it.
Learning to raise support often happens through training provided by the missions agency. Sometimes that training is extensive and quite helpful. Sometimes there is little to no training at all. That’s where it can be helpful to find other resources such as books and seminars to help.
One great resource that is comprehensive and inexpensive is called Partners for LIFE: How to Build, Grow and Maintain Your Missionary Support Team. It provides online video training sessions, downloadable materials and more that you can access anytime from anywhere. Many have found this training to be extremely helpful. Maybe you will, too. Start with the support-raising blog and a sample video.
Answer from Jeff, who has served in Haiti, Dominican Republic, and the US for ten years.
“Share your passion with everyone.”
I raised my support without realizing I was raising support. All I did was get excited about what God was doing in my life. That’s all. I started telling everyone I knew about how God had called me to Mexico as a missionary. I wasn’t even thinking about support when I was doing this, I just was so passionate about what God was doing that I couldn’t stop talking about it.
I was working as a waitress at a local restaurant, and one evening I was speaking about what God was doing in my life. It turned out that the couple I was waiting on were pastors of a church all the way across the country, and they were searching for missionaries to support. Just because of my passion, and my desire to communicate to others what God was doing, that one church now fully supports me and has been doing so for more than a year.
Prayer and passion… those are the two things that I had, and those are the two things that God used to get me what I needed.
Answer from Meggan, who has served in Mexico with United In Christ Ministry, Worldwide, Inc.
“Combine faith-filled prayer with fearless communication.”
I believe that where God guides, he provides. Yet, just as I learned how to preach, I had to learn how to raise support. The way I have raised support is by fearlessly praying and communicating.
First, I pray to find out what God wants me to do, and then through prayer I apply his promises to those needs. Second, in an honest up-front way, I share with my home church and prayer partners what I intend to do and what I need to get the job done. I have never begged for money. Instead, after praying about my needs, church leaders and supporters usually ask what I need. Sometimes the Lord gives me creative ways to share those needs in a newsletter or through some other communication with my support team.
Answer from Dale Pugh, who is international coordinator for World International Mission and served long term in Mexico.
“Watch God provide through doing your part and through others.”
When God started calling me to missions, it took me a very long time to listen. I’d left college with an honors degree and excellent references and was looking for a teaching job. After months of applications, interviews, and near misses, I gave into the “still small voice” and wrote to a missions group for information about teaching positions they had.
When the information pack arrived a few days later, I looked through it and was horrified to learn that I would have to raise personal support. I thought through my list of family and friends. Many had just left college as I had and were struggling to pay off student loans. Some were newly married and taking on the responsibilities of mortgages and other home costs. There was no one I felt I could ask for money, so I filed the papers under the bed and tried to forget about it.
I told my parents my new plan for the next two years, filled out the application forms, and let all my family and friends know. My dad and I began to dream up creative schemes for fundraising-donor dinners, bake sales, craft sales. I took a Christmas job in a shop to help pay off my school debt. In the early summer, my church let me have a table at the Village Festival to sell some of my unwanted belongings to raise money. Several people gave me one-time gifts, and offers of monthly support began to filter in.
There were no miraculous meetings, no huge, unexpected donations, but many small gifts, often from people I hardly knew. Before my dad and I had a chance to put any of our plans into action, I added up how much I had, how much had been promised, and what I had managed to save from my job. I discovered that slowly, quietly, and unobtrusively God had provided exactly the total I needed for my two-year commitment.
I always knew he could do it but never really believed he would do it for me. I have now been in missions for five years, and God has continued to provide for my needs, plus a few “wants” on the side! More than that, he has broadened my horizons beyond my imagination and allowed me to be part of His plan in many people’s lives.
Answer from Jennie, who has been a missionary with Operation Mobilization for five years.
Excerpted from pp. 186ff in the book Scaling the Wall: Overcoming Obstacles to Missions Involvement, by Kathy Hicks.
“Give generously to missionaries now and receive from others later.”
Over twenty years ago I quit my job as a pharmacist to join Campus Crusade for Christ. I needed to raise a significant amount of support per month plus some for one-time needs. One thing I recall is that I had been giving generously to different mission organizations in the previous three years, above the tithe to my church. As I gave, Luke 6:38 applied: “Give, and it will be given to you.”
I somewhat naively thought that the Lord could bring these pledges together in about thirty days. Praise God, he did exactly that. And my home church pledged nothing that first year.
Answer from Tom in Slovakia, where he has been a missionary for seven years.