One of the hardest parts for me about being a missionary is raising our own support. We took a course on Partnership Development and we learned all about why it’s okay to ask for support, why it’s necessary and even beneficial for those giving. We learned that it’s Biblical and how to do it well. We also learned that it should be comfortable and a blessing to all those involved.
We learned so much about raising support. The only problem…I still feel so awkward. Nothing stuck for me. I didn’t suddenly get comfortable doing it. I didn’t suddenly feel great about it. The idea of support raising, asking individuals and churches to support us and our ministry financially still makes my palms sweat, makes my stomach turn and makes me feel so awkward.
I’ve often told Phillip that I wish we could make our own money. Maybe get part time jobs and support ourselves. That way we could buy whatever we wanted and not feel guilty about doing certain things with our income because it was given to us. I feel uncomfortable eating out, going to Starbucks, taking the kids to the zoo. I always think “would our supporters be upset that I’m using their money for this?”. I know that it sounds silly, but when we are paid by individuals and not necessarily an organization I really start to think about what we’re doing with this money and what other people would think about it.
It’s stressful sometimes too. Living on support. To be completely honest, there are times that we don’t know if we’ll have enough money to make it through the month. Sometimes people forget. It’s normal. I’ve forgotten to pay a bill before. And if it’s not coming out of our account automatically, I have to put up reminders to pay things. Life gets busy. People forget.
Sometimes people have to stop supporting us for whatever reason. We get it. It’s not personal. But it also means that we have to figure out how to raise that extra money.
You see….for me, living on support is difficult. It can be awkward, it can be uncomfortable and we have to constantly do it.
But here’s the flip side. Here’s what makes it all worth it (for me anyway):
Living on support is living on faith. We have to trust God for EVERYTHING! I cannot tell you how many times we have been on our knees asking God to come through on our behalf because the support just wasn’t there. And it’s crazy you guys, just absolutely crazy because God does come through. Every. Single. Time. He comes through. He’s a miracle worker!
About a week or so after we miscarried I was feeling pretty crappy. Not only was I mourning this incredible loss, but we were cutting it very close in the finance department. I was growing increasingly agitated and grumbling at God about how we’re supposed to be doing His work yada yada yada, and He’s not even there for us. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was mad at God for not providing and for allowing us to live this uncomfortable life.
Seemingly out of nowhere, I got a card from a girl in my Bible study expressing her sorrow about our loss, but also exclaiming that God laid it on her heart to give us this money. The money was just the amount we needed! God is faithful. But He’s more than too. Yes, He faithfully provided the money that we needed, but He also provided some measure of comfort that I was longing for.
A few weeks before Christmas we decided that we would drive back “home” to visit with family and pick up some welcome baskets a supporting church made for refugees coming into our area. We were hesitant to make the decision to go because we just didn’t have the money. Like…we did not have the money. At all! But we knew we needed to go because we had to get those welcome baskets back here somehow, AND my dad told us he wanted to buy us a new vehicle! And so we prayed! We told God our needs, asked Him to somehow provide for us and thanked Him for His continual provisions. And we set out for the Midwest.
I kid you not, within the first 2 days of our trip we received $1000 from various people. One thousand dollars! Is that not insane?! We were blown away. Even now as I am writing this, I’m getting all choked up thinking about how God prompted several different people to give of their hard earned cash. He cares! And He provides.
These stories are not unique to us.
It’s funny though because I continue to worry and stress when bills come in and there isn’t enough in our bank account to cover everything. I still get nervous when a supporter doesn’t give one month or when checks come in late. I still sometimes doubt that God will come through this time, for whatever reason.It’s living on faith. Constantly, every day.
Often Phillip and I will discuss whether or not we should get jobs outside of the ministry, to help offset some of our costs, to pay off our student loans, to save some extra money. These conversations usually take place when we are smack in the middle of money stress. It seems that within moments of these conversations (that may be slightly exaggerating. Maybe hours or days) God provides for our needs in very specific ways. And then we say “Well, I guess He wants us to just keep doing what we’re doing?!”
Living on support is a love hate relationship for me. I still don’t always enjoy it, I still feel awkward sometimes. But I love that it causes me to have to trust God completely. I love that I have to rely on Him, that I get to pray about specific things all the time. And I love the ways in which He provides. It’s always different, it’s always amazing.
And really, I love having a connection with our supporters. I have such amazing feelings towards them. I’m humbled all the time by their generosity, by their love and support. More than most people, my heart goes out to them. I think about them and pray for them often because they are allowing us to do this work among refugees without the added worry of working a traditional job to afford it.
We are certainly blessed.