What we wish you knew
22 Jun 2015
Ben has been support-raising with his family for 18 months now. Here he shares a couple of things that may be helpful for you to know about the whole process:
What we wish you knew is that we don’t like this process! We would rather perform open-heart surgery on ourselves with a corkscrew then support-raise. Or as one author put it: “Many missionaries would rather go die a martyrs death than support raise.”
I don’t mean to make it sounds so doom and gloom—after all, as we look back it’s not a process that we would change at all. Maybe we can liken it to having your wisdom teeth removed: it can be a painful process but the benefits are worth it. This whole process has grown our faith in God amazingly.
How does it make us feel?
We feel frustration because of the transition: three years of Bible College training finished, we are psyched and ready to move our family to a new country and begin the ministry that God has called us to. But first we must support raise. So you may have your degree, you have your role—but you cannot start. The longer the waiting, the more the frustration grows. It has also been a greater chance to trust in God, and find contentment in Him, not our role or location. But it is something that we wrestle with.
We also feel frustration because of the transformation that is taking place: we are transitioning from independent people to people who must rely on the generosity and faithfulness of others. For some (myself included) this can be quite difficult. I like earning and giving and I do my best to not be a burden on others. Now we are in a place where we are not earning and in a sense we are becoming a load for others to carry, namely the body of Christ. We are learning to ‘take our pride and swallow’, which is not always easy.
Guilty and disappointed
We first planed to leave five months ago and spent a year of support-raising telling people our planned departure date. However, when the time came and we were not able to leave, we were disappointed. Then the guilt began to set in—we felt we had let our supporters down, or lied to them in some way. How would we break this news to them? God provided the wonderful realisation that we are not in this alone and that there are many more people invested in this ministry then just ourselves. What we wish people would know is that we do experience these negative feelings, and your encouragement can help us enormously through this process. Maybe remind us that we are not in this alone; that though it’s disappointing, you are praying for us and you are with us all the way!
How can you help?
You can communicate
We wish you knew how wonderful communication can be. We are often facing a great deal of uncertainty, so receiving communication from people is wonderful. We send out newsletters and updates about our family, but rarely get to hear about what’s going on in your life.
Also, speak up about the level of communication that you would like—either more (“I don’t hear from you enough”) or less (“don’t worry about us, invest your time in others”). What tends to happen is the supporter might get disgruntled and just stop supporting without any communication, leaving the missionary without their required support and wondering what went wrong.
You can clarify
We wish you knew how wonderful clarity can be. This applies particularly to those who have said yes to supporting us financially but are not officially on board yet. No one really enjoys talking about money or chasing people up for it—if you have said you would support someone then follow through with it, or keep up the communication about it. It’s not like the missionary will rock up to your house to repossess your household items, but it would be nice not to have to feel like that. Because let’s face it, it’s awkward addressing the issue of money.
You can let us serve
We wish you knew how wonderful serving can be! Normally we don’t offer to help simply to be polite, but because we genuinely mean it. If we offer to serve in some way then allow us to! We are on the receiving end of so much generosity that it is nice to be able to give back in some way shape or form.
Ultimately, we wish that every Christian had to go through this process, because of the way that it has driven us closer to our loving Saviour in ways that we could of never imagined it! It is hard and can be painful but we would never want to exchange this for anything because of what God has revealed to us in this journey.