“Let God grow your faith.”
Ultimately, it’s God’s responsibility to provide for us as we follow his leading. He is the Lord of the universe for which there is nothing too difficult (Genesis 18:14). He even calls into existence things which do not as yet exist (Romans 4:17). This is a source of great comfort for us. Sometimes, however, neither his calendar nor his pace are as rapid as we might wish. Abraham had to wait quite a while before he received the promise of his son Isaac.
Remember, for God the issue is not simply money. He will use our support-raising experiences to develop other characteristics in us, such as faith, patience, and sensitivity to others.
In the following passages, study God’s faithfulness to Abraham: Genesis 11:27-25:11, Romans 4, and Hebrews 11. Then consider Philippians 4:10-20, where Paul in every verse refers to his own experience in fundraising.
Raising support is actually a spiritual issue. Becoming a missionary means expecting God to enable us to communicate a message to people of another culture that will lead them to change their whole worldview. Only a miracle can accomplish this end.
However, we believe in a God of miracles, who reached out to us and is changing us day by day, and we believe he can do this in others’ lives as well. Similarly, if this God, who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, calls us to serve him, can he not also provide for our needs? As the mission we served under told us, “The provision of your financial resources is God’s seal on your call to serve him with us.”
The great majority of American missionaries today have gone through the process of raising support. But it’s not just garnering support. It is entering into a partnership with people who will commit themselves to share our vision, opportunities, trials, difficulties, and blessings.
As Paul tells the Corinthians, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11, ESV).
Answer from Jack Voelkel, former missionary-in-residence with the Urbana Student Mission Convention; originally published on the Urbana website. Previously, Jack served thirty years with Latin America Mission in Peru and Colombia.
“Resist the temptation to fear.”
God did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Think about it. If God is leading you, then who would like you to be afraid of doing what it takes to become a missionary? The enemy! Resist the temptation to allow support raising to be a fearful experience or an obstacle that keeps you from going into missions.
Support raising means simply sharing with others the exciting vision that God has given you. When people hear your heart (and God’s direction) as you share, they will get involved. Usually support will come from sources you did not expect. Support raising is an exciting faith-walk with God.
As you meet people and share your vision, listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This takes some practice, and you may make some mistakes at first. For example, when you meet with a pastor, a missions committee, or an individual, know that the Holy Spirit will guide you in what to say and do.
And follow the peace of Christ in the decisions that you make. If you don’t have peace, move on and don’t dwell on it. When you sense the peace of the Lord, then you can be confident that God is at work making a divine connection for your support team.
Answer from Kelly, a missionary in Southeast Asia.
“Avoid sales pressure as well as presumption.”
My experience over the last decade as a faith-supported missionary is that I’ve had lots of fears and confusion regarding financial support. But it all boils down to two questions. When I answer yes to both of them, everything is OK. When I’m not answering yes, I consistently run into problems. Here are the questions:
1. Do I trust that God will take care of me and not “hang me out to dry”?
2. Am I asking God for provision each day (“Give us this day our daily bread”) and accepting each day’s provision with heartfelt thankfulness?
Some type of formal training in raising support is a good idea. Scriptural teaching on support raising is crucial, as is learning from the experience of others. Training is important, since missionaries all too easily fall to one extreme or the other, humanistic sales strategy or presumptuous faith.
Answer from Nate Wilson, who served as a missions mobilizer with Caleb Project.
“Never doubt God’s involvement and provision.”
When I was preparing to serve short-term, I estimated what I the amount of money I needed per month to stay for about eight months. As I put money in my savings account, I thought I had enough money for this short-term trip. So when people asked me about the finances I would need, I told them my savings covered the trip.
Just before leaving, however, I had several unexpected expenses including new eyeglasses. Then, when I arrived in Equatorial Guinea, I found that my expenses were higher than I had expected, and I quickly realized that I had enough funds to last only about four months. I also realized that I needed to extend my time in Equatorial Guinea for an additional seven months in order to accomplish the work I was there to do.
What did I do? I began to pray about the situation. God answered in a marvelous way. He led a few friends to send support, even though they were unaware that I needed it. I finished the fifteen months and never lacked in finances. Praise to his name!
Answer from Mike, who served ten years in West Africa and North Africa on a Bible translation team with WEC International.
“Learn now to discuss difficult things.”
Raising support is difficult for most people. Your mission agency will have information advice, and perhaps even training in this area. Talking to your pastor and church missions committee may also help you develop a more positive attitude for support raising.
For many aspiring missionaries, if they don’t have the support, they don’t go to the mission field. If you keep that in mind, then raising support is just another step toward the place you believe the Lord wants you.
Talking about needs and asking for support is a difficult thing. But then, speaking about Christ to the lost can be just as difficult. Support raising is one way to help you develop an ability to talk about something difficult with people who may or may not be positive in their response.
Answer from John in Japan, where he has been a missionary for five years.