“How do you get paid?” "Do you have to raise support?"
These are questions many people ask us as they consider a career as missionaries. The thought of "asking for money" terrifies them when it comes to missions. Yet those same people would find nobility in asking other people to help someone whose house has burned down or whose family has incurred great medical expenses. Just look at Caring Bridge, Go Fund Me, your Facebook page and a host of other web sites to see what I mean. In our case we are only inviting action for the physical and eternal life of perishing tribes of people. The missionary teams not only save lives on a regular basis but teach others to save lives. Dealing with educational needs, poverty, bondage, medicine, persecution and many other evils is a normal part of ministry to the unreached. More importantly we work to bring eternal rejoicing and praise to our God through those who have been and will be redeemed.
Yes, without coercion or manipulation, we ask people to give their resources and even their very lives to help us do this work. We do that by faith, believing that God has something better for all of us who will get involved in those things which matter to God.
A person who wanted to be a career missionary told me, "If I serve with [another very good mission] then I will not have to raise support."
On the surface that sounds like a great idea but that also means that a lot of people who know him personally will not have the blessing of directly participating in what God will do through him. Nor will he seek as earnestly to engage other people in that work. (There are plenty of books on the Biblical basis of fund raising, so I won't get into common errors of popular thinking here.)
Start With Nothing
I left Borneo, Indonesia at age 19; with a suitcase half full of books which I would never use and clothes that I could not wear where I was going. What works well among the orangutans of Borneo just doesn't in the USA in winter. I wanted to be a missionary bush pilot to serve remote tribes of people who had no other hope of hearing about Jesus by speeding the urgent work of fellow missionaries. The prospect was huge to me. Where should I train? Where will I get the funds? Each step since then has been a walk of faith: knowing the direction and purpose but trusting God for the steps and means to get there. Over the first eleven years God brought a wide variety of ordinary people into my life who were willing to exercise extraordinary faith in God's work in me. Through them and my own hard work He provided what I needed to take the next step toward working with New Tribes Mission among unreached tribes.
Include Other People
Some people who are exploring a career in missions are frightened by the concept of raising funds for personal and ministry support to serve others. What they don’t realize is that God uses their need and the impossibilities of their personal endeavor to draw other people into what He is doing for their good, for His glory as well as the eternal salvation of the people they work together to reach and the people whom they will reach with the Good News. (2 Cor. 4: 15)
We are talking about the eternal souls of men and women who are destined for an eternity separated from God, when the cure, the message of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, is already in our hands to give to them.
What we do is show them what God’s word says and ask them to start moving by faith. It may seem simplistic to say, “Who made money anyway?”, but faith is about who is worthy of our trust.
Trust God For Everything
As “faith missionaries” we still don’t know from month to month how the bills will be paid, how we will be able give to the missionaries we support or how we will be able to accomplish the next thing toward which God is directing us. Sometimes it is really difficult to believe that God will provide all of our needs. Sometimes we felt that He didn’t. Yet I can tell you, that despite our monthly struggle, I can look back at more than 25 years of ministry, seeing God’s amazing provision and stunning work in the lives of people we have served. (We would love to tell you some of our many stories!) We are so glad that we trusted God so that we could begin to see what He is doing!
Ultimately it boils down to grace, values and choices. We all give to each other out of recognition of God's grace toward ourselves. We want to minister that grace to the missionaries we support, to the people who send us and to the people we and our fellow missionaries serve. Grace: unmerited favor. Thank you for extending to us the grace of God! We intend to go and do likewise.
Like the people we counsel, I cannot tell you how God will provide. I don't know.
I can tell you what He has done in the past. I can tell you generically about some of the people who supported us for a while and some who still do; every month. It's not about the size of our faith. It's about the object of our trust. God most often uses ordinary people like us (you and me) who see a need and, by grace alone, provide for other parts of the Body of Christ to accomplish His purposes.
We would appreciate your prayers. Our foundation of monthly support has been weak for consecutive years, affecting our ability for outreach. Other ministry opportunities can be leveraged only after the rent/mortgage and utilities are paid.
God often provides through one person telling another about vision, purpose and opportunity; then inviting them to join in. If God leads them to do so, and they want to, they will.
So here's my pitch:
Would you like to join us in our journey of faith? Would you like to help strengthen our monthly financial foundation for ministry?