Friday, April 24, 2015

The Experience of Fundraising

We sent the letter out with hope and trepidation.  Our emotions mixed together like chocolate sauce on melting vanilla ice cream - at first you can distinguish the dessert from the topping, even tasting the two distinct flavors, but as the chocolate sauce mingles with the melting ice cream it's sometimes difficult to tell the two apart.  Our hope and trepidation blended like that when we sent out our support letter for Cameroon.  The first couple weeks were filled with days that wavered between true hope or true trepidation.  It's happening!  The letter is out and now we can raise funds to GO!  But what if the funds don't come in soon, or at all?  What if people don't want to support us, or just can't?  But God has paved the way for us to go so He's gonna bring the funds in - it's gonna happen!  Our emotions went back and forth so much that soon they became one new emotion: hopidation!  Somehow, being nervous through the fundraising process forced us to keep praying and remain hopeful, lest we give in to defeat and despair.

We knew it was important to invite others into our ministry.  It was an opportunity to allow others to learn and grow in their knowledge of missions just as we were learning and growing.  By sending our support letter we were inviting people to help launch our mission trip so we could get our feet on the ground and live and learn and report back what God was doing to build His kingdom in another corner of the world.  Part of the invitation was asking people to join us in prayer.  That part was easy and gave not the slightest hint of anxiety.  The other part of the invitation, however, was asking people to join us financially.  That part was not easy and gave more than a hint of anxiety that ultimately fueled our mixed emotions.

It is not easy to ask people for money.  It's not easy in situations when you can repay them let alone when you can't.  Our culture is individualistic, where we expect people to earn and pay their own way and not rely on the resources of others.  Ours is also a culture that views money as a deeply personal and private matter.  People don't typically discuss their personal budget with others or open their checkbook for the world to see.  So for us to enter into the experience of fundraising for missions was to step away from our individualistic instincts and privacy concerns in order to adopt an entirely different outlook on money.  It was humbling but good, difficult but important.

Something that helped with the experience of fundraising - something which inspired the hope in the hopidation - was looking at the biblical model for it.  Paul said it directly when he wrote to the church in Corinth: "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes?  Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? .... If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?" (1 Corinthians 9:7, 11).  Paul then declared that he had a right to receive support from the Church.  That's a bold statement for a 21st century American audience to hear.  But it's a principle Paul was explaining and modeling for the fledgling Christian Church.  What's more, Jesus Himself received support during His ministry.  While Jesus didn't address this matter directly like Paul did, we do know that He and the disciples were supported by others at least some of the time.  Luke 8:1-3 says, "After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.  The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna, and many others.  These women were helping to support them out of their own means."  These women, who'd been healed and changed by the love and power of Jesus Himself, were following Him and offering support along the way because it was apparently needed and because they couldn't help but offer whatever they could to Jesus.

And so, with a mixture of hope and trepidation, we wrote and sent a support letter to raise funds for our mission trip to Cameroon back in 2007.  It was an amazing learning experience.  We were so focused on what we could learn once we got to Africa that we didn't anticipate how much we'd learn through the fundraising process itself.  We learned about the logistics and timeline of it all, but we also learned about inviting others into this journey so we could participate in the Great Commission together.  We learned how encouraging and generous people can be.  We learned how humbling and motivating it is when you're only able to minister through the support of others.  And we learned that God will open the floodgates when the task and the timing is right.

Now, eight years later, we have sent another support letter and we're finding ourselves with that same mixed emotion: hopidation.  Hope that the funds will come in, but trepidation that they won't.  We've waited ten years for this!  It's finally happening!  We can raise funds to GO!  But what if our budget is too big this time and it's too much for people to rally around?  What if we didn't explain something well enough in the letter?  But we've got time and we know God is pushing us back to Africa so He'll ensure the funds are there.  So yay!  But what about...?  No, stop worrying.  Just yay!  We can testify that fundraising is a unique experience!

This time it's the same undertaking as before but with a greater investment...and a greater reward too.  We still have the joy of inviting people into the world of missions with us, but this time we're inviting more people to join us, and for the long-haul if they want.  It's exciting and nerve-wracking, especially because who on earth are we to be going out into the world with the message of Jesus as if we're anybody special???  We're just one family committed to a call who are trying to follow through on that call.  And we need to ask people to financially support us in this endeavor.  It's humbling to say the least.  The rewarding part is that we have the privilege of being people who GO with the support of an assembly of people behind us.  We also have the honor of following the example of Jesus and allowing others to support us out of their own means so that we, in turn, can minister to the sick and the poor.  It's an experience few people will have, and we are praying not only that God will be faithful to provide our financial needs to be missionaries, but also that He'll be faithful to work joy and peace into our hearts as we undergo this process of fundraising.


If anyone is interested in learning more about the fundraising process, we're happy to answer questions.  We're open to talking about our budget and what the funds will be used for.  Please feel free to contact us.  If you're considering a donation to our ministry, you can visit or ask us about other options for donating.