Riding the Rollercoaster of Financial Support
At one time during this Homeland Ministry Assignment (HMA), I was about $200/month away from being fully pledged to get back to Bolivia. I couldn’t believe it! And then the rollercoaster started up again…
For those of you who understand how support raising works, skip down a bit. For those of you who don’t understand how support based ministry operates, here’s a quick tutorial for how World Gospel Mission organizes our support:
Each missionary has two types of financial needs, a one-time cash need and a monthly recurring need. The one-time cash need covers expenses that will only happen once this ministry term, like airfare back to Bolivia, an amount allotted to set-up house again once I get there, any new technology to purchase for this ministry term, and (for me) my tuition so that I can go back and be the best principal for grades 7-12 that I absolutely can be. There are also times when a Bolivian or someone in Bolivia desperately needs financial help, possibly because of a death or illness in the family or a natural disaster; along with giving from my own personal funds, I can also provide some help because of people who have given to my ministry. This one-time cash need is supplied mostly from those amazing love offerings and one time checks that come from churches and individuals maybe once or twice, but not on any scheduled agreement. They are so important to every missionary! Even when people can’t commit to giving on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis, their gifts still meet crucial needs. The monthly recurring need happens when churches and individuals commit to giving on a scheduled basis, like every month, every 3 months, or every year. This type of gift can be called a pledge, a share, a faith promise, or something else that I haven’t heard yet. They can be any amount, given by check, cash, or through an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). This promise is between 3 parties (missionary, donor, and God) and in essence goes like this, “By faith, and for as long as God continues to empower me, I (the donor) promise to give (whatever amount) each (month, year, etc) to (whichever missionary or ministry God has equipped you to partner with).” All of these pledges are recorded by our headquarters and tallied up. Once the pledges equal the monthly amount needed by the missionary (and the one time cash needs given match what was needed), the missionary gets released from Homeland Ministry and sent back to the field. And there is much rejoicing!!
It sounds fairly straightforward, although I admit it was incredibly confusing when I first started with World Gospel Mission in 2003. What few people every talk about, however, is the roller coaster of emotions that support raising can be. Support raising is only one aspect of Homeland Ministry. I love the other aspects, connecting with my supporters already, sharing God’s faithfulness to us as we have ministered together (me through being there and them through helping me stay there!), connecting people with mission opportunities all over the world, and sharing how God uses ALL of His Body to do his work worldwide. I don’t mind the long hours driving, I enjoy the chance to share and serve! But the roller coaster of support raising can wear me out if I’m not careful.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there was a point where I was only $200 in those monthly pledges away from having all of my monthly need pledged. I KNEW it was all going to come in and I’d be released to return to Bolivia with no hiccups. And then the mission needed to recalculate what I needed to raise for insurance. OK, that was a hard blow, but I could still handle it. Then I got notifications about churches or individuals needing to stop their monthly support. I also get reports that while someone has told me that they are going to give a certain amount each month, they have yet to start. And some of those emails hit harder than others, not necessarily because of the amount given or not given. It’s more about the state of my own heart and emotions; really, it comes down to my faith. And that brings me to today. Even with some amazing new pledges that came in last month, my records still say that according to the pledges that have actually been consistently given each month, quarter, or year, I still need $457/month. If everyone who has promised to pledge will still be able to do so, that brings the need down to $312/month. But the whole 18 months feels like it’s been support coming in, new pledges coming in, support not coming in, and pledges not coming in, back and forth, like a roller coaster without the fun.
My faith tells me to hold on, but I’m discouraged. How on earth do I ever get back to Bolivia when the financial aspect keeps changing? How do I stay in Bolivia when everything keeps changing? Most importantly, how do I keep my eyes on God’s faithfulness and the NUMEROUS supporters who have been able to and chosen to give faithfully month after month, year after year, even when it hurt, even when they hadn’t heard from me, even when the world told them other “investments” were better? How do I remember how blessed I am when the fear and frustration threatens to be overwhelming?
By keeping the main thing, THE MAIN THING:
Keep praying me through, friends. Pray my faith will be strong and that I will let God use me in whatever way He deems best. And I’ll pray the same for you!