Many of you have been following our summer travels and know we are actively raising a team of both financial and prayer partners so that we can reach our financial goal and depart for Papua New Guinea. But “Support Raising” or “Deputation” (as it used to be called), is something that doesn’t come easily to most Americans. Here’s a sneak peek into our own misconceptions regarding fundraising that we’ve had to correct and get in line with Scripture, and also an explanation as to why Wycliffe refers to support raising as Partnership Development…
Misconception #1: Friendraising vs. Fundraising
Wycliffe makes an important distinction between raising funds to go on the mission field and raising up partners to be a part of our ministry team. There is a HUGE difference. Anyone can write a check. And God who created the universe would have no difficulty creating an abundance of resources to further His work around the globe. BUT, God created the church and desires individuals in the church to work together to accomplish this. A partner is a partaker in the ministry. He or she is one who may not be called to go to the far ends of the earth, but someone who is committed to the ministry, to the missionary and devoted in both praying for and financially resourcing the ministry. Friendships cannot be one-sided, however. In a true partnership, the missionary is also devoted through prayer, friendship and in ministry to their partners here in the US. The relationship is a mutually enriching, spiritually encouraging friendship, that results in the furthering of the gospel and in our case, Scripture translation.
Misconception #2 Support Raising is Begging…
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”…”Pull yourself up by your bootstraps”…”You’re a self-made man”… These American sentiments make support raising extremely uncomfortable for most Americans.
If you’ve lived for any length of time in the United States then you’ve certainly heard these phrases. Unfortunately for me, the mentality of being self-sufficient had wormed its way into my subconscious and has made the act of fundraising extremely uncomfortable. Fact is, I’ve been brought up since childhood to work hard and earn a living. The idea of Fundraising made me feel like I’m “begging” and relying on others for my income, a little like food stamps and other subsidies. As I’ve studied the Scriptures, I learned pretty quickly that my mentality was false and founded on some faulty thinking.
God looks at raising a partnership team very differently than we do. Throughout Scripture, both Old and New Testament, there are countless examples of how God views his Christian workers and how He provides for them through His vast resources. The Levites, for example, were God’s chosen workers who were set apart for His service. In Numbers 18, He called all the men of Israel to take up arms and reclaim the land of their inheritance, but to the Levites he gave no material inheritance. Instead, God desired for the Levites to depend on Him alone for their sustenance. In turn they were to serve God and the people of Israel in the temple.
God set up the financial system in Israel so that each man, woman and child tithed 10% of their first fruits (the best they had) to the temple. Those tithes were given to the Levites for the work they had done for the Lord. (In other words, the Levites were not expected to wear shoes that were too small or collect used tea bags to flavor their cups of tea. They received the very best Israel had to offer.)
Two things stand out to me in this passage. 1. The Levites worked and received their due wages. 2. By giving tithes, the Israelites acted in obedience to the Lord, and by receiving tithes the Levites depended on God for their provisions.
Misconception #3 The Biblical approach to support raising is being a tentmaker…like Paul…
As Wycliffe missionaries in Papua New Guinea, both Wojtek and I will have jobs. We have set hours, a job description and the whole 9 yards, just like we would in a paying position in the United States. If we were to underperform in our job, we would be accountable to our employer, (Wycliffe). However, because we are serving a population that has very little, we can’t simply be tentmakers and earn an income that would sustain our family and provide for our ministry needs. Even in Paul’s case, tentmaking was a temporary solution. His tentmaking kept him from his ministry, only allowing him to preach the gospel on the Sabbath. When Silas and Timothy arrived with financial support, he immediately transitioned from tent-making to disciple-making. This is evidenced in 1 Corinthians 9. In fact in vs. 7-10 Paul gives several examples in support of financial partnership, including: 1. The soldier has a right to have his expenses paid. 2. The farmer should be able to eat the fruit he produces. 3. The shepherd should be allowed to drink some of the livestock’s milk. As 1 Corinthians 9:14 states: “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
Misconception #4 Missionaries are simply living of the backs of other people’s labor because they can’t hack it in the real world…
Now hopefully most don’t see it this way, but it has been expressed to me, that some people feel that people only become missionaries when they can’t be successful here in the US. Being a missionary on support is their way of ensuring they have 3 square meals each day and a roof over their heads. This is biblically wrong for many reasons, but specifically within Wycliffe we are all required to pass a technical evaluation proving that we are adept at our skills prior to even being accepted into membership.
Personally, Wojtek and I were at the most financially successful point in our careers and were quickly climbing the ladder to “bigger and better” things. But, when God calls you, then you must be obedient and respond to that calling! For us, that meant actually setting aside the security of “3 squares and a roof over our head” to the unknown, and ultimately relying in faith on God for our provision. Additionally, our budget is set by Wycliffe and it is based on the known financial necessities for life and ministry in Papua New Guinea. The idea that missionaries are living large on someone else’s gifts is faulty when you partner with reputable mission organizations who are backed by the ECFA and have accountability to the funds coming in for their missionaries.
Misconception #5 financial partnership does not appear in the New Testament
Interestingly enough, one of the most profound scriptural examples of relying on financial partnership was Jesus himself! Clearly, Jesus had the authority to turn leaves into cash if he so desired, but he wisely chose to partner with others to further his ministry. He did that for THEIR benefit, not his own. This is evidenced in Luke 8:1-3. In these verses “Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Jesus chose to model his ministry in this way because it is a blessing to be apart of his work. Not all are called to Go to the farthest ends of the earth to further the Gospel. But we are all called. And in God’s economy, we all have different roles to play. These women who came alongside Jesus’ ministry financially, were also partakers in the blessings of his ministry.
Similarly, when individuals and churches partner with missions today, this is their role to play in being a part of the Great Commission. Because ALL Christians are called to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
So when we are asked, “When does your ministry start?” We can honestly say now! It is a blessing to be raising our partnership team, and to be encouraging churches and individuals in the Great Commission. As long as the Lord has us in this place, we will continue to work hard and strive to serve and build relationships with those we come in contact with.
However, ultimately, the goal is to be 100% resourced by monthly financial partners and able to leave for PNG sooner rather than later. We are still hoping to be resourced by January so that we can participate in an aviation training required for Wojtek at JAARS in North Carolina. If we make that deadline we can be PNG bound by late next summer. However, if we miss that deadline it could delay us a year. We would love it if you would consider being a partaker in this ministry and partnering with us financially so that we can play our role in going to serve the people of Papua New Guinea.
Join us!! Check out our ministry page at: https://www.wycliffe.org/partner/zfamily to learn more about how to be a part of our ministry team through prayer or financial partnership.