Joel carried me across the threshold of our little rental house (that mind you, I’d never laid eyes on until that day!) on Wheat Street, and we were surprised by my aunt’s gift of unpacking a majority of our house and wedding gifts and setting up the most precious little nest. I’m talking down to stocking the pantry and putting new toothbrushes in the holder!?! Talk about a blessing. It was a good thing too, because it was less than 24-hours later that we were swept up into the whirlwind of being full-time missionaries.
Now, you don’t just decide one day you want to be a missionary and you go to your location… we had applied, been interviewed, were placed on a team and had worked all spring and summer, prior to our wedding, raising support.
Finances, fundraising and just money in general is a sensitive topic that I’ve never written about before but I felt God nudging me to “go there” in this series because the area of finances has been an integral part of us “Following Him and Loving Them!” It is an area we are continually having to surrender to God’s control and trust Him fully. I’ve never felt it necessary to write about, because It can feel sort of private, and largely because people have all sorts of opinions and pre-conceived notions about support-raising. Maybe that’s you, or maybe you’ve never heard of support-raising, so here we go.
Okay, because God led us to minister through the platform of Cru, the world’s largest missions organization, one that has a ministry presence in more places than McDonald’s has burgers, we have committed to raising money to cover all our salary, insurance, benefits and ministry expenses. That’s a lot of dang money. Especially if you multiply it by the duration of your time in vocational ministry…let’s just say more than one college professor and well meaning friend lovingly said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” or “Well, when do you think you’ll get a real job and pull a real pay check?”
But you know what? We actually really enjoy living this way. In fact, we wouldn’t change it even if we could. Though both Joel and I initially felt really weird about asking people for money, God totally changed our hearts on the matter. I mean, how else could an amazingly godly man who was called to be a dentist and minister to his patients, reach freshmen in college and prayerfully lead them to Christ, just like someone did for him as a freshmen? It’s SO fun to give people the chance to take the Gospel to the future leaders of the world…so that’s why we gather a team of ministry partners. That’s why we raise support, because it’s not like we are bringing home big bucks. :)
If we are all honest with ourselves, God is the One who provides for us in every way, every day. So whether you receive a paycheck from a corporation or from a team of caring, committed individuals who believe in you and in what you’re doing, it’s all a gift directly from His hand. We each are really going to work every day, exercising faith that He will provide.
So, we spent the majority of our engagement, meeting with couples, individuals and churches, sharing with them the darkness of our mission field–the college campus, and the strategies we use to bring the Light of Christ to the darkness. We then asked and challenged people to consider making a monthly investment in our ministry and to share with others they knew who might be interested in our ministry, to help us build our team. And this is something we have committed to doing for the rest of our time on staff. Which, as of now, seems to be for many more years! We have a slew of commitments we make to our partners and we send out monthly updates so that people can see where there money is “going” and how their investment is reaping spiritual dividends.
The whole support-raising process is a lot like stepping on a tube of toothpaste, it’s crazy to see how much stuff comes out of your soul when you’re squeezed and asked to leave your comfort zone to walk by faith and not by sight. When we got in the car to drive to each one of those appointments we were humbled, nervous, and so unsure of if God would lead them to sacrificially give and be a part of our team of Gospel-laborers. And each time, He would provide in unimaginable ways. God provided our initial support in record time. We were blown away. There are so many stories that grew our faith as God provided for our initial support, making us able to report to campus. And now, as we raise support year after year, we continue to be humble, nervous and excited to see how God will provide.
Provide He does and thankfully for 5 years we were able to focus whole-heartedly on reaching students in Columbia, South Carolina. More on that to come!
This post is part of a monthly-long blog re-launch and series I’m writing entitled “31 Days of Following Him & Loving Them.” See all other posts in this series by clicking here.