ml 07 money

Financial and Support Issues.

Financial and support issues are crucial to the work of a missionary.  This is an area that requires much prayer and trust in the God who provides.  While some missionaries raise all of their support independently, others are supported by churches, individuals, and mission organizations.  A missionary’s work is not a solo venture but a conglomerated effort and mission of numerous members of the Body of Christ.  Some key things that I would like to learn include: the different means and strategies of support raising, difficulties and struggles, the allocating of raised money, approximate expenses of living and working in different countries, and much more.

Excerpts from interview with Professor JF: The leaving behind of all the things we have possessions, connections, and family can be a huge struggle – The call is a sacrifice and there is loss – Our secular world tells us that we should base our decisions on monetary reasoning but we should not be basing it on such concerns.  God will direct us and in our seeking out his will in which we will be provided.

Excerpts from TR and KR interview.  Was there anything difficult in making the decision to go? Finances?  The mission work was taken care of by the LCMS who provide their training and travel to Japan.  Once in Japan there was a stipend from the school that Tim and Kathy taught English, which provided the means to live week to week. The English teaching was the key to getting support for the workers as well as a church, which was funded through the students learning English.  Students had to pay quite a bit of money to attend and it would have seemed that the stipend would be a good amount but through administration it seemed very little money made it to Tim and Kathy.  It was not anything that kept them from living but it made it difficult but the reality of an unbalanced difference of value between the Yen and the Dollar.  Tim and Kathy where in Japan during the trade problems between the U.S. and Japan which was a key to the money concerns.  Dependency was also a big issue, which was talked about in the interview and now seems like a good time to bring it up. There was a problem with Japanese pastors who wanted to become self-dependant and it was a premature move leaving many churches under funded.  This continues to be a big deal. 

Excerpts from interview with JC.  Was there anything difficult in making the decision to go? Finances?  What J told me simply amazed me in that upon leaving to go to West Africa they sold everything.  All their possessions such as home, car, and furniture they got rid of. He mentioned that they had never been big into materials so it was an easy decision.  He said that living on the mission field was very reasonable in that the cost of living was so low that no issues of hunger or stress occurred.  It was pretty easy to live on the money they made.  God abundantly supplied them filling their needs.

From WMPL Lady who spoke at OHSCO luncheon:  WMPL missionaries do not ask for financial support from people, but rather they place the utmost importance on prayer and building of a prayer support team.  They do not wait until a person has all the funds needed but rather trusts God along the way to provide and He does.

Interview with Dr. B:  Dr. B. received support from the LCMS and was paid monthly.  This sum of money was more than ten times what the people he was living among made.  At first he gave out money when asked but this built dependency and as he said, “it can skew a culture.”  He began saving the money and then used it to educate children.  He would tell families that if they raised the first half of what is needed he’d match the other half.  In this way he was allowing the parents to feel ownership of their child’s education.  

            One of the biggest times he was asked for money was in times of a burial.  The custom was that the extended family helped in the time of burial.  It took Dr. B. six years to become part of the extended family so until then he was outside of the system “standing alone.”  This system did not work in the way that westerners are familiar with:  “I borrowed you $10 so you owe me $10.”  Rather, they say, “I helped you when you buried your father so now you will help me in my time of need.”  

It took Dr. B. years to figure out this system, and until he did he kept records of people who owed him money.  Once he gained an understanding of the system he figured out how he could get help from people.  He calls this system: reciprocity.  He learned not to think of himself as Mr. Moneybags that people wanted to know; rather, he learned the faults of his western culture judging value of things by money.  This culture was more focused on relationships.     LW

 “Money is never the issue in missions.  It’s the ability to tell the story and excite people.”

Quotes from the book Stepping Out: “God’s Pattern of Provision.  Understanding the biblical precedent for support raising.”

Many go into support raising for missions with feelings of fear, guilt, trepidation, and even shame.  However, the first step in the process is understanding that support raising is biblical (71).  Some examples:

  • Jesus himself relied on people such as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who helped “support him out of their own means” (Luke 8:3).
  • Jesus taught the disciple to accept gifts from others, “eating and drinking whatever they give you; for the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:4-7).  
  • Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:14:  “In the same way the Lord has commanded that those who preach the Gospel should receive their living from the Gospel.”
  • Paul himself chose to raise some of his income through the making of tents.  This is where the term “tentmaker missionary” came from:

Definition of a tentmaker:  “a cross-cultural witness who works at a paying, usually secular, job overseas.  Often they are able to gain entry into “closed” countries which restrict traditional mission efforts.  Tentmakers rarely make tents for a living, like the apostle paul did, but they all should have the intention to further God’s work” (57). 

  • Paul also depended on support from churches for ministry and requested it of them:  “When I go to Spain…I hope…to have you assist me on my journey” (Romans 15:24).  The original Greek in this verse confirms that Paul was requesting money” (72).  

Accountability – It is the foundation for sustaining credibility and building trust. 

– To use it effectively, partners must have a common commitment to it, a clear understanding of what they are accountable for, and a shared set of ground rules.

Identifying Confidence Factors – Faith that accountability will be successful

  1. A reliable accountability structure            4. Capable Personal
  2. Clear Goals                                       5. A Good Reputation
  3. Written Policies                         6.  A Favorable Track Record
  4. State your expectations in writing
  5. Share all relevant information
  6. Focus on outcomes, not intentions
  7. Review confidence factors often
  8. Resolve conflicts immediately

Twelve ways to be Accountable – Ask these Questions

  1. Am I accountable to an informed and involved board of directors?
  2. Are my goals for the partnership clear, measurable, and achievable?
  3. Am I as concerned about good results as I expect my partners to be?
  4. Do I earn my partners loyalty by giving them mine?
  5. Can I be counted on to fulfill my promises
  6. When I ask my partners to incur some loss or give up a benefit do I lead the way by taking at least as heavy a hit?
  7. Am I diligent in reporting back to my donors?
  8. Can local Christians say that I won’t mislead my donors or feed them half-truths?
  9. Can I properly account for my trusted ship funds?
  10. When I ask the partners for a financial report, am I ready to share mine with them?
  11. Am I compassionate with partners in difficulty?
  12. Do I ask my partners to tell me when they think I am off the mark? When they do, do I respond positively?

Some more quotes:

“Be sure that you never look at this wonderful opportunity to raise support and involve yourself with others as something negative or as a burden.”

“Most people find themselves a little uneasy as they approach the challenge of support raising.  It seems to go against our American culture to depend on others—especially for finances” (73).

“We must remember that the Bible strongly states that accepting support gifts is part of God’s economy” (73).

“The bottom line is that you need to be willing to do whatever the Lord asks you to do, or you won’t be qualified for any missionary career”(73).

“A laborer in God’s Kingdom is truly worthy of being paid for His service” (72).

“Money is never the issue in missions.  It’s the ability to tell the story and excite people.”

From Chapter 6

“Make the Right Connections.  How to involve others in the venture from the very start.”

“You may hear protests like, ‘Is this why I paid for you to get a computer science degree?’ or ‘No daughter of mine is going to be begging for money!” (49).  

From Chapter 12

“Have Fun Getting Funded.  How to face the pitfalls and practices of raising support.”

Pitfalls of poor thinking when it comes to financing a short-term trip and then at some practical ways to get the job done.

Pitfall One:  The Beggar Bugaboo  Raising support can seem like a sure way to turn off friends and offend your family.  But, raising support is actually team ministry and most often it draws people closer rather than apart.  It also prevents putting missionary plans on hold in order to independently raise the funds.

Pitfall Two:  Checkbook Guidance. This reasoning comes from looking at one’s checkbook and if the present money situation is good then one will go, and if not than one won’t go.  However, if this is how most mission enterprises operated, then little would be accomplished in missions.  In trusting God to provide beyond your means, the process of support raising becomes exciting and one’s dependence on God is deepened. 

Pitfall Three:  Rich Uncle Syndrome. While a select few are actually supported by just one individual or organization, it can be a dangerous approach to God’s work.  A person must make sure to go to God for His strategy and His strategy may call for going beyond a lone individual for support.  “More people on your support team means more people influenced, involved in, and affected by your mission” (76).  

Pitfall Four:  Ignoring the Supernatural. God often works in “wonderful and unusual ways” to provide money.  We must get it fresh in our minds that God is the Provider.  

Some positive steps:

1. Pray “Pray that money in.”

2.  Make a budget

Type out a budget so you can be prepared to share it with those who may ask you how much it your trip will cost.  The budget will speak of your seriousness about the trip.

3.  Develop a financial strategy

Create a list of all your resources—people and other.  Consider selling some of your stuff.  Pick up another job.  Ask God to clear a strategy.  Make sure you follow the guidelines of your mission agency.  

4.  Be prepared to make a presentation

One of the best ways to make people aware is through face to face interaction or public presentation. 

 Stepping Out pg 73. We must recognize that the bible strongly states that accepting gifts is part of God’s economy.  In a sense accepting support is a matter of obedience to God’s work and calling, not of following your feelings.  If God calls you to a supported ministry position, then He will provide everything you need to fulfill your ministry position, including emotion strength and perseverance. (Phil 4:19, I Thess. 5:24).

  Stepping Out pg 75.  Today, many churches are willing to help support short-term missionaries if they can show that their mission will have an impact for the Kingdom of God.  

  Pg 75. Support raising is not rattling a tin cup for spiritual welfare.  It’s team ministry.  You’re asking others to add their financial and prayer strength to the total effort of your mission group.

  Pg 76.  More people on your support team means more people influenced, involved in, and affected by your mission.

  Pg 79. Tips for an Effective Support-Raising Presentation

  • Don’t rely on letters.   Letters alone are the least effective means of communication your mission and your need.
  • Make personal visits. 
  • Telephone calls are second only to personal presentations
  • One good method is to use a response card.  Your donors will need to know pertinent information like how to give, where to send the check, how to get in contact with you,, and whether tax credit can be received.

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