“What you need depends on your model.”
I first considered coming to Africa with a large, old, international, and well-known missionary agency. Although I was coming alone they wanted me to raise between $125,000 and $170,000. I also found out they did NO church planting at all.
I soon connected with a group with a different model. We go poor to the poor. My church sponsored me for $500 a month. Three friends pledged a total of $300, and $200 of that fell through in 90 days. Due to the fact that I lived in a goat stall, ate what the locals ate, and traveled using local public transportation, I was fine.
The other agency wanted a huge exit strategy, emergency funds, money for a home, a very nice vehicle, and a salary that would allow me to live like a Westerner in Africa. Since this was inconsistent with my vision, I went the other way. But they are very experienced and in their model which is many time revolving around medical opportunities and helps ministries, they have deemed this as necessary. They also took a small management fee but offered excellent support, mentoring, and resources.
I am 60 in a few months. I have spent much of my time in a mud hut and also living in or near the slums in Nairobi. Obviously, I have chosen a path that required little. I have been here four years.
You must look at your model, whether you have small children involved, and many other factors to determine your funding needs, first of all. If the Lord does not provide, then wait. It was shared with me by a long-time missionary that what God wants, God funds. Take your time. Prepare. But go.
Answer from Glenn in Tanzania who has served with Kingdom Driven Ministries in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda for four years.
“Maybe it’s the call.”
Just a quick story: We are on the mission field full-time now, but in our younger years my husband and I felt strongly called to missions work with Filipinos. We explored options with organizations. One was determined to send us to France. We both felt that this was the wrong way to go. Though we still strongly felt that God wanted us in Filipino ministry, the doors were not opening for us!
So we decided that maybe a better first step would be to find a Filipino church in the States. There we were, in Los Angeles, where there were as many Filipinos as in Manila! So we got out the yellow pages and started visiting Filipino churches. We ended up on staff at a Filipino church for seven years. And those same people now support us on the mission field in Haiti. God moves and calls. We just need to listen and move, maybe not in a traditional direction.
Answer from Janis who has served in the Philippines and Haiti for fifteen years.
“Serve as a sender.”
I sure do like answer from the man who lived in the goat stall. Yes, possibly you are with the wrong agency. But from another perspective I would ask: Did you follow the Acts 13 model of your church hearing the Holy Spirit say, “Separate unto Me…?” If the personal passion for cross-cultural ministry is still deep in your heart, maybe you need to go back to that step.
Having that support system behind you, finding an agency with more modest budgets and follow good principles for developing a partnership team, and you may have a better go of it.
On the other hand, is it possible that God developing a call to mission means you are to be part of [someone else’s] partnership team? Read Serving as Senders Today.
Answer from Neal Pirolo who has served with Emmaus Road International in countries around the world for more than forty years.