One of the most common questions that Clay and I are asked is “how is support raising going?” As we share, the person on the other end of the conversation sometimes comments about how hard it would be to ask people for money or how incredibly awkward or scary it seems. Money and finances are often thought of as a taboo topic, so people tend to tread lightly or (let’s be honest) avoid it at all costs.
Well, as missionaries with Mission to the World, Clay and I have the beautiful opportunity of raising 100% of our own funding in order to get to El Salvador, live there with our 3 boys, and do ministry for at least 4 years. We don’t have the option of avoiding the topic of money. In fact, God is teaching us some of the coolest and most trust-provoking truths we’ve ever learned because of this support-raising journey.
I’d like to share with you why we feel like support raising isn’t scary or awkward, and how it’s actually been a gift – both to our family and also to our ministry partners who have chosen to invest their resources in what God is doing.
1. God Has Already Appointed Each Person Who Will Join Our Support Team
From before missions was ever on our radar, God had already appointed every person who would learn of His work in El Salvador and choose to support it. In the first month of our support raising journey, I read a verse in Acts that recounted how Paul and Barnabas shared the gospel in Antioch, and the whole city came out to hear them. Then it says, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
The Holy Spirit made clear to me that the same thing would be true with raising up people to support us. Just as He is working in my family’s heart to lead and draw us to missions in El Salvador, He has been moving and stirring in the hearts of those who will come alongside us and send us by sacrificially giving of their resources. Those He has appointed will become our partners in this ministry – and nothing can stop God’s will from being accomplished.
Realizing that truth almost immediately took the pressure off. If God knew before you and I were ever born that we would become his beloved children, and he also sovereignly and lovingly ordains all the details of our lives, then I don’t have to stress over someone choosing to join our support team. God knows. God appoints. God enables. God gets the glory.
Our pastor, Chip Miller, recently said in a sermon that whatever God calls you to do, you can be sure He will equip you for it. We can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is calling us to serve the people of El Salvador. We have been walking down this path towards missions for 1.5 years now, and God has done nothing but fling wide every door. It’s scary, but we will continue walking forward and trusting Him, including trusting that He knows exactly how and through whom He will provide and equip us. It may be a mystery to us at the moment, but it has never been a mystery to Him. Isn’t our God great and gracious?
"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." - 2 Corinthians 9:8
2. Our Support-Raising Success Doesn’t Depend On Us
Now this is a hard one to swallow for someone growing up in a legalistic, quid-pro-quo culture. But here’s the truth that God is teaching us about raising up a team of ministry partners… our efforts don’t equal results. It can be so natural to think that people are giving to our ministry because we are inspiring, brave, or winsome. Let me tell you in case you don’t already know (and if you know us personally, you already know) – we are none of those things.
In God’s economy, we are strong when we are weak (2 Cor. 9:9-10). He is at work even when we are not. He can accomplish His purposes with or without us – His will doesn’t depend on our performance as vision-casters or inspiring speakers or extra godly, super Christians.
When we fail to communicate well during a presentation or fail to connect during a conversation with a potential partner, it is easy to believe that they won’t support us, and that the burden rests on us to prove ourselves. And when we pack our schedule with meetings, give presentations, and make brave asks, it’s tempting to believe that new support is due to our own labors. But the truth is, God is the one doing the work in BOTH cases, and we are lovingly invited to be active participants in the process.
God is the one who will cause His work to prosper and His gospel to go forth. God is the one who will turn hearts towards His love and transform lives with hope and peace. Clay and I and our boys simply get a front row seat as we seek to be used by Him. We believe wholeheartedly that this is His story and His plan, and in his graciousness, we get to be a part of it.
So, when we meet with people and share what “we” are going to do in El Salvador, the truth is that we can do nothing apart from Christ. He is the one who will do it. He is the one who will get the glory.
When people give to support our ministry, they are giving to what God is doing. They are giving because the Spirit has moved in their hearts and given them a desire to see His will accomplished in El Salvador.
3. Giving is a Spiritual Gift
According to the Apostle Paul, being enabled by the Spirit to give generously is a gift of grace held in the same high regard as those who are able to teach, lead, encourage, prophecy, and serve. Just like any other spiritual gift, as we exercise it, we become stronger in it and it becomes more natural to us. Giving generously becomes more and more a part of our lives and thought processes as we do it, and it transforms us as a work of God’s grace.
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:4-8
To give generously is an extremely sanctifying act. Matthew 6:21 says “Where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.” Where we invest our money reveals the priorities and love of our hearts. So, being on the receiving end of a generous gift is an inexpressible blessing and miracle, because in order for that person to have given, God had been at work growing, strengthening, and beautifying that gift of generosity in their lives.
When people choose to invest in our ministry, it is a heart-work of the spirit. We are never the ones to convince them – we are not that talented or moving. It is always God who is growing people in the gift of grace that is generosity, and we simply get to be a small part of His work.
And that’s not scary or awkward. That’s beautiful!
A Note to Those Who Cannot Give Financially
As I wrote this blog, I worried many times that someone unable to give financially would feel put off. While my focus here is specifically to shed light on why raising financial support is a beautiful, God-glorifying journey contrary to most people’s initial perspectives, I don’t want to leave unmentioned the incredible need for prayer and for generosity to be a lifestyle. If you cannot give to a ministry because of your financial limitations, you can exercise the generous giving of your time and energy in many ways – prayer being number one.
There was a moment in Jesus’ ministry when the disciples weren’t able to drive a demon out of a young boy, and they privately asked him how Jesus was able to do it. Jesus’ response to them was, “This kind can only come out by prayer” (Mark 9:29). There are challenges and trials we all face that no amount of money, wisdom, sweat, or skill can get us through. The only thing that will carry us to the other side is the prayers of the saints.
If you feel God stirring in your heart to be part of what He’s going to do in El Salvador, but you can’t give financially to support the work, would you commit to intentionally and consistently pray for us and for the people of El Salvador? All the power of hell cannot stop a team of humble, prayerful people.
We are praising God for all of you.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:21