There's just no easy way to bring up the topic of money.
I tried to think of something cute and clever. I got nothing.
Do people get tired of missionaries talking about money? Nobody has actually told me that, but I wonder sometimes. A lot of times.
So can I just share a few things with you? I really hope you will get my heart in this.
(Note: My intended audience in this post is to our Church families and friends. Anyone else is welcome to read, of course, but this one is more personal than the greater blog sphere.)
We are fundraising right now. We will not be able to return to Tanzania until we have reached a certain amount.
Missionary fundraising is hard and awkward and wonderful.
It's probably like the feeling a man gets when he asks a woman to marry him. When a politician puts his name out as a candidate. When a person hands in a resume for a job he really, really wants.
It's a very, very vulnerable feeling.
Will people get behind us?
Will God confirm this is what He wants us to do?
Does anyone else think this is as important as we do?
Or are we just crazy?
We believe in what God has called us to do. We believe it is really, really important.
But we cannot do it without the Church. Literally and figuratively and spiritually and in every way possible.
No one ever wants to talk about money in our culture. It's, like, one of the most awkward things to ever talk about. And yet, that's our job right now. Ugh. Hard. Miserable, sometimes.
But then there's the wonderful.
I remember that many years ago, Gil and I read a book on mission fundraising. It told us that we should analyze the financial status of the people we know--look at their houses, cars, jobs, and then make an assumption as to how much money they make and how much they could afford to give us. Then we should ask them, face to face, for that amount.
We decided way back then that would never be our approach.
How can anyone guess the financial status of a person by looking at their lifestyle?
Maybe it's all on credit cards.
And who am I to "decide" how much they should give to our ministry?
Maybe they already give away so much, that they don't have anything else to give.
And most importantly, where is the Holy Spirit in that approach?
If we really believe that God believes our ministry is important;
if we really believe that God is the one orchestrating all of this;
if we really believe that it is God who compels people to join our support team;
then who are we to "assume" who will or won't join us, and how much they can give?
We are always, always surprised. And it is always wonderful.
Our biggest financial supporter so far is a couple that I had met twice, and Gil had never met, when they joined our support team. I barely knew them, and even if I had, I would have never guessed that they could help us so substantially.
There are three widows on our support team.
There are other missionaries on our support team.
People from all walks of life; some who are close friends, some who we don't know well. Some in their 80's, some in their 30's.
We have learned to have no expectations. God always surprises us. He delights in that, and in these days when I am feeling awkward, and anxious, and wondering if we we be able to leave on time, and wondering if people are sick of us talking about money, and wondering where it will come from....well, I must remind myself of that, over and over.
It's His work, His ministry. And He will surprise us.