As I walked down the hallway to put our coats away, I saw a long time friend who’s known about our journey to the field for several months. She’s been very supportive and asked questions regarding our status through all of it.
Then I sent out our newsletter beginning the process of support raising and everything changed. All of a sudden, she turned the other way when I saw her at church.
She would quickly pass me by without even giving me a nod in acknowledgement and when I stepped in to say, “Hello” to her, she would stop, breathless to say a quick hello, and then off she went again. Barely a word spoken to me. Mind you, we were good friends and hung out every week for two years.
The only thing I can glean from this change in reaction is that we had entered the support raising process and she may have been avoiding being asked to get together as we sought partnerships in our ministry.
This story is not new. Many missionaries who have had to raise support have relayed extremely similar experiences of nearly being ostracized by those they were most excited to share about ministry with because of their great friendships.
I get it. Support raising entails asking people for money. At least that’s the outward view.
Not many people like to be asked for money but let me give some insight into this difficult task that missionaries must accomplish.
Support raising isn’t about asking for money.
Well, not most of it. Support raising is more about wanting to share what God is doing across the world, in the spiritual realm, with people who we care about and who care about us.
Yes, there must be a moment where the actual question of partnership via prayer and money comes in, but that’s not why support raising is important. It’s important because God raises up a team of prayer and financial partners to accomplish His work in the world.
Scripture mentions Paul being on support from his churches throughout his missionary journeys. In fact, there’s only one instance where Paul says he is self-supported (one instance written about in three places of Scripture) and in every other situation, Paul is writing to churches asking or thanking them for various forms of support. In this post, you can see many of the ways Paul elicits support from other believers and churches.
Support raising isn’t easy.
We are bent toward self-suffiency so if we had our way, we wouldn’t need to ask anyone for anything. However, God, in His amazing plan to bond the Body of Christ together, also desires to mobilize (or get people involved) in the work He is doing.
He doesn’t want us to be self-supporting. He doesn’t want us to be lone ranger Christians. He wants others to be witnesses to how He is changing hearts around the world. He wants believers worldwide to praise Him for His goodness, power, faithfulness, worth, and glory. Part of how this happens is when word of what He is doing spreads around the world from those who are connected to the work being done.
Inviting others to be on our support team means that we have accountability, prayer, encouragement and care from people that God is raising up to be a part of the work with us. We also get to share the tremendous victories & plead for prayers of grace from those on our support team.
I would be remiss if I neglected to point out the warped perception that many people have with money, and potentially why it makes the task of raising support harder. I think this video is a perfect illustration of the difficulty in raising support in this day and age. When we, generally speaking, spend more money on Halloween costumes for our pets than on the work of the Gospel among people who have no hope of hearing it unless missionaries are sent, there’s a problem with how money is viewed and handled in the Church.
Support raising is a necessary task.
While most of us don’t like this process of support raising, we must do it. We want to invite people into this ministry with us and in order to simply meet our needs on the field, we need the resources that the Body provides.
We want to see unbelievers become believers. Unreached to be reached. God’s name to be made famous in the darkest parts of the world. We cannot see any of these without being sent, which means without having our needs met. Through God’s great grace and goodness toward us, He provides for us through other people. We just have to ask.
Give us the grace to endure the small amount of time to allow us to share what God is doing, share the vision for ministry God has given us, and yes, ask for your support without making us feel like beggars or that our friendship meant nothing.
Relationship > Support
Quite frankly, it hurts deeply when people you know well all of a sudden don’t give you the time of day or turn to go the opposite direction when they see you coming.
We hope that, as adults and fellow believers, you can simply tell us, “No,” or “We’ve decided not to support you,” and still allow us the privilege of sharing our lives and this work with you. Sharing what God is doing, our hopes and fears, and our lives with you brings us joy because we get to invite you to praise God for all that He has done in our journey, and pray for hat He will do with expectation.
We care much more about our friendship and relationship with you than we do about you becoming a monthly supporter.
If you have friends who are on the road to becoming missionaries, may I please make a suggestion?
Love them. Love them well enough to be honest.
The best thing you can do to help those raising support is to simply care about them enough to give them an answer.
If God is drawing your heart to support them, tell them right away! If He is not, please just tell them no and continue the friendship.