Do you know what missionaries were created to do? Spread the Gospel.
Do you know what missionaries spend a good chunk of their time doing? Raising funds.
I’ve never met a single missionary who enjoyed the process, and yet most of us invest far more time than we’d like doing it. From contacting churches to sharing our needs with friends… it’s a necessary evil. See, we need the cash of the Kingdom to make it bigger— and maybe even keep food on the table in the process. But it’s time consuming, it’s awkward, and let’s be honest, it’s not what we’re called to.
And yet… this is how it works. This is The Way It Is. So, we add fundraising to our other invisible tasks: the team-building, the logistical planning, the resource gathering, the scheduling. We don’t begrudge those things, because they feel productive. They feel fruitful, in the preparedness kind of way that you understand if you’ve ever sat down to plan out how you’re getting kids from point A to point B on a particularly hairy day. It’s part of your job description, so you just go about getting it done.
In the same way, like it or not, finding backers for the work is folded in to the job of reaching the unreached. Honestly, my husband and I? We’re terrible at it. We’d much rather train our eyes on the harvest we’ve seen this year as our family has labored alongside Bible teachers in a college for young Christians called to ministry in Nepal, or in a series of trainings for church planters in a far-flung corner of Cambodia, or in a birth center in Asia run by believers, or in a stateside conference for parents wondering how to plant the seeds of missions in the hearts of their children. This is what we’re called to do.
Because we’re not folks who think with our checkbook, we tend to ignore the bottom line until it can’t be put off anymore. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, that’s an attractive way to avoid the uncomfortable job of increasing financial partnership totals right up until the moment your husband realizes that that three training events in Cambodia he’s been working on for months? Yeah, he can’t buy a plane ticket.
The work has increased. God has been so faithful, so abundantly generous in opening doors for our whole family to engage in Kingdom building work in some of the least-reached parts of the world… and we’ve failed to prepare by inviting friends and family to partner with us as we prepare to labor.
To be honest, I find myself at a loss when I try to communicate the reasons why people should support our ministry financially. I never know what parts people want to hear in the business sense, so I focus solely on the work. I talk about men so hungry for the Gospel that they escape the room in which their family has imprisoned them to limp to on a broken leg for miles to hear my husband teach. I talk about the miracle of believers receiving roofs over their heads in spite of the best efforts of the hostile Hindus attempting to deny them shelter. I talk about itinerant midwives being given adequate training, and pastors who have no flock but their own wife and children being able to shake hands with men who understand because they, too, preach without ceasing and wait for the day when the hearts of their own village will be turned.
What I don’t talk about is the fact that our sending agency, The Global Missionary, is extremely transparent in its financials. I don’t talk about the fact that while every other agency I’ve ever heard of charges at least 8% in administrative fees (with 10-18% be more common), ours holds just 5%— which is not used for staff salaries. As a matter of fact, TGM’s board serves on a strictly voluntary basis, and that admin fee is held for the purpose of missions. I don’t talk the young, new-to-the-gig couple with no children we met recently, who shared that their agency had set their support level at $8,000 per month due to their own personal needs, their outreach to a segment of the local university’s student body, the “team” financials, and the larger agency financial pool in which they’re required to participate, while we manage to sustain a family of 11 individuals, multiple active ministry streams on two continents, and a fully functioning Bible school in Nepal on just about a third of that amount. I don’t talk about how every single check with our name in the memo section doesn’t just fund two missionaries, but 11. I don’t talk about how we’re a whole family, actively praying, working, and using our unique gifting in spreading the Gospel here at home and around the globe in ways you can see, and ways you can’t.
I don’t give people the big picture, because most of the time, I don’t know what to say. I don’t want people to feel pressured, or uncomfortable, or taken advantage of. I don’t want my friends to see me and start running. As a result, this year, there’s a strong chance that we will say no to some projects and training requests in which we’d love to invest. And that? Well, that encourages me to embrace boldness. To open my mouth a little more often. To ask.
See, the Bible tells us that the harvest will be plentiful. If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of someone who just put the name Jesus on the fire that’s been burning in his gut his whole life, you know the truth of that statement. People are hungry for the freedom we have in Christ. They long for Him.
Jesus also said that the workers would be few. And yet… here we are. Endeavoring to take the Gospel to the people who need it the most: Moms and Dads here in the U.S. struggling with how to disciple their own kids, women spinning prayer wheels in Asia, former soldiers in Myanmar.
I have no doubt that God’s provision has already been set in motion. This week, I watched as my family pulled pumpkin after pumpkin from our field, marveling at how the seeds we had sweated to get into the ground had multiplied into more pumpkins than we could manage. We laughed, we got dirty, and we praised God for the strength to do the work, the means to buy the seed, and the materials to reap the harvest. Our prayers now are that we will find the same favor as we seek to raise additional ministry funds, and seek to plant seeds whose fruit will be eternal.