We get it. The journey to overseas missions can feel like you’re trying to build a plane midair. With a root beer can, scotch tape, and a plastic flower. On the hard days, it’s possible you need some unshakable truth as you head overseas.
So today we’ve cobbled together a free printable infographic with some truths to hang your hat on, even if some days it feels like an overlarge sombrero. Post this in a cupboard, on a bathroom mirror, or tucked in all those books you’re reading for your training.
And chew on God’s promises for you in this journey.
In our efforts at Go. Serve. Love to help you in arriving well overseas, we’re posting from one of our partners, the all-new Mission App–which allows you to search and apply to 30 agencies with one app, and one application.
Check out their thoughts below on how set yourself up for a smashing start overseas.
Is this home now?
Your footprints in the cement of your new host country haven’t even had a chance to dry and the question pops into your mind, “How do I do this well?”
Everything is so new, so unfamiliar, and so important.
Take a deep breath. God has brought you here and will walk with you. Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind.
In arriving well overseas, Relationships are key.
So keep your relationship with the Lord fluid & fresh and He will make your path clear. As you feast on His presence, His life will overflow from you while you dive into your new life and community.
Being genuinely interested, asking tons of questions, and sharing time and simple resources with your neighbors will go a long way in building trust and friendships.
We’re all different in our ways of navigating newness. So there’s no right or wrong way to approach this. But the important thing is to be available, showing interest and care.
Classroom learning is great and helpful, though likely the best times will be over a cup of tea, or a shared meal, the local market shopping experience or as you walk through your neighborhood or village.
Remember your kids are experiencing a big learning curve as well.
Take time to talk about your kids’ concerns, what excites them, what makes them nervous. (It’s important your kids are arriving well overseas, too.)
Encourage them to talk about what’s important to them. Gently share Scriptures that will help them recognize God’s sovereign power, keeping each of you in His loving care (see verse list below).
Share your own experiences and feelings about inadequacy and fears as well. Make a list of strengths and weaknesses and pray through them for each other.
Soak in the truth of God’s Word.
Read and write down or memorize the Scriptures that speak to your own situation as God leads you.
ARRIVING WELL OVERSEAS: A FEW verses TO GET YOU STARTED
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I AM God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You!”
Psalm 73:23 “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.”
Psalm 91 —The entire Psalm. A favorite is “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”
Matthew 28: 19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Romans 8:26-27 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God!”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Reach out to someone local, or to a family, to show you the ropes.
Ask them basic questions like:
Where should I do my shopping (if there are choices?!!)– or the proper way to cook/prepare a local food item.
What do you believe about life after death?
How do you dispose of garbage/waste?
What traditions do you have as a family?
Tell me about your family history.
How do you connect or hang out with others in the community?
Where to you go for medical assistance?
How do I locate school supplies or toys for children?
Where do I find garden tools?
Are there things I should avoid or be sure to do when I am out and about in the community?
Often it is the others we serve with that may be the most challenging.
Even though we have the same goals and purpose, we can have very different ways in mind to achieve them and/or our lifestyles and backgrounds prove to be very different.
The Evil One would like nothing better than to get us distracted by our differences and ‘majoring on the minors’ – we must resist this trap of our number-one opposition. Remember, we are in a spiritual battle and the evil one will use all manner of evil against us – but we are overcomers through the Lord Jesus Christ!
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Rebecca Hopkins’ blog, “Borneo Wife,” when she and her husband served in Indonesia. She now blogs from her new American home at rebeccahopkins.org .
It’s almost like the deep, dark secret of overseas work. That confession, usually made by a woman, sometimes with reasons, other times with self-chastisement hanging onto the words.
“I wasn’t ‘called’ to be here.”
She’s just along for the ride, supporting her husband, her kids, she says. And I cringe if I hear the next words. “I don’t matter here. I don’t make a difference.”
But I sit amazed at her dedication and sacrifice, despite what she believes is a lack of a Word from Above to come here. She came anyway, even though she wasn’t so sure if her role matters, if she is special, if she was “called.”
I call that faith.
“am I called? not YET”
I read recently on a blog about a woman waiting to hear her call to this work, asking God to give it to her. She wants to do it. Her boyfriend wants to go. But she waits anyway.
I have some honest questions about this.
Are we supposed to be waiting for specific directions from God Himself? Does God want to use our desires, our dreams, our gifts? Does He instead call us into things we would never choose on our own? What freedoms does He give us in how to engage our world?
Of course, when asking “Am I Called?”, there are important things for which to wait.
Even when an opportunity presents itself, we still need training, funding, logistics and a plan that will honor local voices. We need to learn what it means to help as part of a community, but not become outsider “white saviors” who may actually harm. We need to make sure we’ve thoughts through risks for our family, gathered some resources for our kids.
But should we also be waiting for an audible answer to our desire to go, serve, and love?
MY OWN “CALLING”
My own experience is somewhere in the middle on this. For years, I’d wanted to do this overseas thing, with or without a husband.
But I received no big magic words, no moment of heavenly insight, no signs, no deep voice in the night calling my name. Just a gradual awakening in my heart to the beauty of entering other communities in an intentional way.
My husband Brad’s story, on the other hand, includes moments of divine clarification, wisdom from above, even, I suppose you could term it, “a calling” to be in Indonesia.
He wanted to be there, too—his own desires part of the equation, too. But once upon a time, he wanted other things, things he had to give up to follow this dream.
CALLING, VERSION 2.0
And when we arrived, living the challenges of this life, we both struggled with other versions of “Am I called?”
Why do we feel so inadequate for this? Why is it so hard to do something good? Where is God in all the mess of serving? Why don’t we just go home?
I’ve heard, too, people (back in our passport nation) say they could never do this. This overseas thing. This work. This killing-of-shrews, power-outages, pregnancies-in-tropical-heat, far-away-from-family thing.
Amen to that. I don’t think I can do it either.
I’ve seen, too, the passions—you could even call them “callings”–without the “going overseas.” I cyber-met a woman this week who lives in the States, but started a nonprofit to help fund care for vulnerable children Indonesia.
She’s never been here. She’s a busy mom. But she’s doing what she can to answer that tug in her heart to do more. And her dedication to a people she’s never met…amazes me.
Though she isn’t “going anywhere,” she is definitely going places.
Am I “Called”?
So, what about you? Do you feel “called?”
Do you wish you were “called,” and feel like you aren’t? Maybe you feel like you missed it, maybe weren’t listening close enough. Do you think someone else more capable should have been “called” to your life?
Or maybe you think the answer to “Am I called?” came years ago. You’re sure you fulfilled your calling, to motherhood, to overseas work, to your job, years ago. And now you feel like you have nothing.
Wherever you are in the world or in your journey or with your questions, may you know there’s room in God’s invitation for us all.
I didn’t know exactly how living in a Muslim country would change me.
I thought it would change how I see the world. It would impact how I understood people, I guessed. I hoped it would give me greater understanding for others, their perspectives.
What I didn’t know, or even imagine, is that living in a Muslim country (well, majority-Muslim) would affect how I look at men and myself, literally and metaphorically.
In many Muslim cultures, there is a larger separation between the genders than in typical Western societies. This means men and women generally do not interact as freely or casually.
Some men and women do not even shake hands with the opposite gender. This means that what is seen as socially acceptable, socially respectable, tends to be quite different from what I’m used to. I hail from Texas, a friendly country where everyone smiles and greets each other and hardly anyone is a stranger. Handshakes were a given and hugs were commonplace.
I didn’t know how challenging it would be to welcome people into my home, cook food for them, talk about life and faith, and then send them off with a nod of the head. No handshake, no light punch on the shoulder.
And I certainly didn’t know that it would change how I interact with American men as well. We all want to conduct our interactions in culturally-appropriate ways, so we drop the side-hug and simply wave hello. It feels strange to me.
I didn’t know living in a muslim country would affect how I look at men. literally.
In our Western cultures, eye contact is usually a way we show respect and interest in someone or in what that person is saying. We make eye contact to greet people, eye contact to talk about life, eye contact to show that we see them.
Even if I stop to buy vegetables from a man I don’t know, I will barely look at him and focus my attention, very business-like, on the vegetables. I don’t look down at my feet, but I don’t look in his eyes.
Photo credit: IMB.org
If my husband knows the man and the man knows us all as a family, I might be a little more relaxed in looking at him when we talk, but I will still use a very businesslike tone.
See, respectable women do not chat it up with men on the streets.
Same goes for taxi or uber drivers. They should not be asking my name (more on that later) or asking personal questions. There is no need to carry on a conversation beyond directions to the exact location, if needed.
Back to eye contact. I didn’t realize how I would internalize the rules. How I would struggle when back in Texas to make eye contact with men again.
The Spin Class Story
I can distinctly remember a time when we were back in Texas and I decided to take a spinning class (an indoor bicycle fitness class). Since it was my first time, the instructor, who was a man about 10 years my senior, helped to adjust my bike while I stood nearby.
As he made polite and very reasonable conversation, I found myself looking down at the bike and giving very short answers. I wouldn’t look at him. I was feeling uncomfortable. Then it dawned on me: No one in that room was going to think I was disrespecting my husband by talking with the instructor in this situation.
This interaction was very normal in this setting and even if I had become chatty about all things bicycles, I still would have appeared normal. I had to make myself relax.
I noticed these same tendencies many more times during that stay in Texas. Over the years since that time I have been able to adjust a little better. This often takes a little bit of conscious effort to recognize where I am and to let myself be a little bit Texan.
How Living in a Muslim Country Affects How I Feel about…Myself
I didn’t know how living in a Muslim country–in a culture that is very conservative–would impact how I felt in my own skin.
I tend to stand out among the crowd on the street. My looks aren’t Middle Eastern. I look like a foreign woman and foreign women have a reputation for having loose morals.
This means that I’m often working against the question of “Is she like what we see in movies? Is she a desperate housewife, too?”
Even as the clothing styles are changing here–going back to knee-length skirts in some areas, sport leggings, sleeveless tops–I’m careful about how and where I participate in fashion trends. I already stand out and I don’t desire more attention.
I didn’t know how observant I would become about what other women wear…and about how the West looks from here.
I’m very uncomfortable when I see tourist women wearing clothing that is not conservative. I am uncomfortable for them, recognizing they don’t know the message they are sending.
Watching American movies and TV shows, I think, “Yeah, I wouldn’t want my daughter to grow up in the West if this is really a completely accurate picture.”
I see the casual sex, the friends with benefits, the revealing clothing, and I know that for people who don’t know America, they don’t know that some of that is just Hollywood. Not all college students are crazy drunks who party and sleep around. Not all housewives are looking for a fling on the side.
It’s worth noting here that just as not all Americans hold loose morals, not all Arabs are terrorists and not all Arabs are Muslim and not all people living in the Middle East are Arabs. Let us not fall into the trap of stereotyping, either.
What’s in a Name
I didn’t know that I would sometimes struggle with my own name. In this culture, a woman does not give out her first name.
I have a Middle Eastern friend who has lived in the same building all her life and the doorman there does not know her first name. He simply calls her “Engineer” now that she is an engineer. The produce man calls me by my husband’s name. Yes, that’s correct, he calls me by a man’s first name.
It’s a little awkward at first.
Taxi drivers should not ask for my name, shopkeepers should not ask for my name. But they do sometimes, because they try to push the boundaries of propriety and respect with me because I’m foreign and might be ok with it. I always reply, “My husband’s name is…”.
And then there’s Starbucks (or any other chain coffeeshop) and I get confused at what name I should have on my cup. My name? My husband’s name? When did this become the difficult part about ordering?!
(In actuality, it’s fine for me to use my first name at these venues that are very Western. It has been interesting, however, to see how I stop for a moment and wonder what to say for my name.)
LIVING IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY: Why Following Their Cultural Rules Matters to Me
Photo credit: IMB.org
I didn’t know about these aspects of change and adjustment that I would experience living in a Muslim country. As I live this life out, as I live my life in a way that loves my neighbors and loves the God who loves them enough to send His own Son as a sacrifice, I am willing to adjust and adapt, to be mindful and to change.
Sometimes those adjustments are difficult. They cause me to look inside at how I see myself and how I see others.
All of these cause me to look to God and ask Him to show me what is good and right, what is important and valuable. And being reminded to lean on His ways? That’s always a good thing.
About the author: Sarah has served overseas for nine years.
First, securing personal time with each person or couple you want to invite onto your support team is critical.
After securing the time and place, the priority becomes preparing for that appointment. These six pillars that will serve as the basis for making the most effective support-raising presentation possible.
Read, enjoy, apply!
Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”
Prayer is a powerful weapon we must use when entering support raising. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us,
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Before we even begin to design a support raising presentation, we must acknowledge that all of our appointments are a God ask and not a man ask!
2. Preparing for your support raising presentation
We need to recognize our total dependence on God first. But we also see that he asks us to do our part.
Some entering ministry might have the philosophy, “I signed up to go on my mission, so now I’m just going to sit back and watch the money roll in.”
That kind of faith is lazy, unbiblical, and seldom reaps results.
James 2:26 says,
Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
How much time we spend in thinking through every single detail of our support presentation has a direct effect on the results we get in appointments. Thorough and excellent preparation definitely takes work, but it will be well worth it!
3. the Power of Face-to-Face.
When a man proposes to his future wife, it is done face-to-face. World treaties are negotiated face-to-face. Important people and important topics surely warrant “in-person” appointments.
If the majority of communication is non-verbal, then sitting down across from someone is essential.
Scott Morton, in his book, Funding Your Ministry, includes a survey of 100 Navigator staff who made 7,471 appeals using four different approaches. Catch the percentages of those appeals who said yes to regular giving:
The face-to-face approach not only has the best immediate results, but also the most lasting too.
You might be tempted to take the shortcut and just call, send letters, emails, or texts, but the people who take to time to meet face-to-face are more likely to keep their supporters over the long haul.
Steve Shadrach, author of The God Ask, raised his full support in 6 weeks back in 1986. Thirty years later, close to 90% of those ministry partners he met with in person are still supporting his ministry today.
4. Planning Your support raising presentation Outline
Having a great support raising presentation can dramatically impact the results you receive in your face-to-face appointment.
Don’t miss five crucial components as you outline your plan.
Laying a relational foundation at the beginning of your appointment is very important. Without good rapport, the rest of your time with them can seem disconnected, even awkward.
I love to ask my potential supporter to share with me “their story”. It could be their personal testimony, their work success, or even about their family. This builds a relational bridge for me, too, to understand their own heart for ministry, missions, and the world.
Share your testimony.
Potential ministry partners have many different good causes to which they can give their money. Betty Barnett, YWAM author of Friend Raising, said that “People give to people justified by a cause.”
When you briefly share how you came to Christ and were called into this ministry, it gives your potential supporter the opportunity to believe in you and the work you are asking them to invest in.
Share your ministry vision.
Always lead with vision and not your needs!
Give an example of a life that’s been transformed through your ministry. Highlight the vision, plans, and strategy to which God seems to be directing you–in order to impact even more lives through the power of Jesus Christ.
Transition into The Ask.
Appropriately shifting to your invitation to invest should not be awkward or abrupt.
One way I let a potential supporter know The Ask is coming? I first share the value of our automatic monthly partnership program and the significant impact the monthly partners have on the ministry.
I’m not being presumptuous when I do this. I just want to be positive, as well as let them know a request to partner with me is coming soon!
The main reason why people say they give: They were asked.
A common mistake many make is to not have a clear ask that includes a specific amount or range. Some do ask, but then keep talking and never give the potential supporter a chance to respond.
Be sure to make a clear ask—and then zip the lip. Give them enough honor and dignity to allow them to respond!
5. Practice your support raising presentation.
Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
The more you practice your presentation the more natural it will be. Grab your spouse, best friend, co-worker (even your dad!) and go through multiple mock appointments with them, until it flows naturally from you with conviction and passion.
I remember my first support raising presentation appointment role play at an SRS Bootcamp in 2010. Even though I am typically a very enthusiastic person, my evaluator told me that I needed more passion as I progressed through the appointment.
Remember this: Having an average support raising presentation with passion is always better than having a great presentation without passion!
Conveying to your potential supporter just how deeply you feel about the calling and ministry God has given you will be the main reason they choose to partner with you.
But from the beginning of time, God has already preparing his field, his connections, his ways–so you arrive at just the right time, to share the hope you have with the people he’s planned. You’re part of the Body of Christ not just in this moment, but in history as God’s Gospel sweeps the globe.
And in tandem with the Holy Spirit, your personal work in this common mission can begin far before you set foot in a nation–if you set foot in it at all.
Right this minute, how can you pray for your mission field? How might God respond
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
May God multiply His willing response as you pray for your mission field.
Wondering what goes into a missionary budget (which, when you’re raising support, can feel overwhelming)? We let you peek behind the curtain with some opinions of other global workers.
“A missionary Budget may cover all the costs of sending the missionary, not just what YOU need to live.”
A missionary budget may include all the expenses of fielding the missionary. Besides a salary, budget categories might include
health and life insurance
travel expenses (including cost of home assignments)
administrative expenses (including the costs of communicating with supporters, and often a certain percentage that supports the mission agency’s home office)
training costs (e.g. language school)
purchase or rental of property
purchase and maintenance of a vehicle.
It’s also wise to include some kind of surplus account, or perhaps a 5% buffer built right into the budget in anticipation of
lost support, cost of living increases
changing exchange rates
an emergency fund and/or insurance that covers medical evacuation
All this can add up to a daunting amount.
But trust me: Cutting corners is not worth the savings.
Being well prepared will help you and your family avoid some of the stress of arriving on the field and not having what you need.
Most mission agencies include some kind of “admin fee.” What these fees cover varies considerably. A high admin fee may include some of the expenses listed above. A low one may suggest these items are listed elsewhere in your budget.
Answer from Marti, who’s served as a mission mobilizer since 1995, including more than ten years with Pioneers.
“If married, both should get a salary.”
A missionary candidate recently asked me if I thought it was better for a married couple to both be counted as legal employees. Should just the serving member of the couple be paid, to simplify payroll even if both are working as missionaries?
Our organization issues W-2’s to my wife and I with half of our total income per year. I think it’s more respectful of our partnership to do it that way and honor my spouse’s major contributions to the work. That was our original reason.
We’ve discovered strong financial reasons along the way too.
When you are negotiating your budget with your agency and others, it’s to your advantage to present the full force of your contribution i.e. two full-time workers. Although people might remember there are two of us, it is to your financial advantage to remind them of the income you both are earning together.
Many missionaries, even if they start under the traditional model of only one marriage partner as the breadwinner, evolve eventually to give both spouses a significant responsibility in the work. There can be a tendency for some to forget that you are working not just 40 hours but 80+ hours as two workers.
Employing both partners accrues Social Security credits for that partner, too. I’m not sure, but I believe this means she’d have higher income in retirement than if she wasn’t an official employee.
Consider, too, that liability insurance and taxation “safe harbor laws” (allowing return to your home state for a number of days without being taxed) likely don’t extend to a non-employee legally.
“your MISSIONARY budget is hopefully designed for your longevity on the field, from veterans who’ve realistically counted the cost.”
Raising an amount so much higher than a salary may surprise you. Why’s this necessary? You may be raising the actual costs it takes a business to employ a person (which can be an additional 100-180% of a salary)–plus costs intrinsic to being a successful global worker.
These expenses may include costs like
overhead for project costs for your ministry. For example, if you hope to run a supply distribution for at-risk children, you may be raising costs to maintain that programming. The more independent your project is from your sending organization, the more likely you may need to raise those project costs.
your computer, software, internet, desk, chair, phone, office space, etc. Some agencies don’t already provide these.
Obviously, lower administrative fees in a missionary budget help reduce your overall budget. But typically,more moderate to high admin fees include more benefits and services that help keep you going on the mission field.
Other thoughts to keep in mind:
Different sending organizations have very different philosophies of budget-setting (ranging from frugal to robust, job-based or needs-based). They also have varying levels of control over budget-setting.
Ask your organization about categories or aspects of a budget you don’t understand.
Keep in mind that the amount may seem overwhelming when you’re raising a high support goal. But your budget is hopefully designed for your longevity on the field, from veterans who’ve realistically counted the cost.
It’s also far easier to raise support before your first departure–and much harder to raise from the field and even during travel back to your passport culture. So go well-funded from the start!
The sun beat down on the back of my neck as I struggled to will each step forward.
I looked up to see our guide Mamoudou (Mah-mu-doo) just ahead of me. Our group had been walking for what seemed like miles down a long, dusty road, greeted only by the occasional motorcyclist. It was already well over a hundred degrees, even though it had not yet reached midday–and I was low on water and motivation.
A Muslim shepherd had asked us to teach in a nearby settlement of nomadic Fulani shepherds. We excitedly accepted the invitation, but I secretly doubted anything would come of it.
Finally, Mamoudou pointed across the fields to a cluster of huts.
As we approached, two children emerged, wearing traditional braids, coins, and vibrant garb. Seeing our strange group, they quickly disappeared shouting.
Moments later, two women approached us, hesitatingly greeting us and asking questions. Mamoudou explained that we had been invited by the old Fulani shepherd.
But our joy quickly faded as we learned that the shepherd was not home; we had just missed him. Discouraged and exhausted, we asked if we could briefly rest in the shade before heading back to our village. It felt like a wasted day, and we didn’t have very many left in Africa.
As we rested, several curious children stood at a distance to watch us. Soon they were joined by herdsmen who had come in from the fields. Before long, a crowd of nearly thirty Fulani were standing around us, awkwardly observing.
“Trust and Obey” Looks Like This
Seeing an opportunity, Mamoudou pulled out the picture book that we used to tell the story from creation to Christ. As we started to teach, more gathered to listen.
We told about the Creator and his perfect design for the world, we told them about our sin which separates us from him, we told them about the Savior who died and rose again, and we told them about the imminent return of the Lord to judge all the earth according to his righteousness.
When we finished, the shepherds eagerly invited us to come back. We joyfully set out, exulting in the goodness of God!
After all, this mission is His.
Mamoudou told us this was the first time these shepherds had ever heard about Jesus. We rejoiced even more knowing that we were fulfilling the command to preach the gospel to all creation (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15).
Two years have passed since that visit, but I still think back on it often. I learned two lessons that I won’t easily forget.
1. THIS MISSION IS HIS. Followers are called to obey, regardless of the outcome.
The Fusion creed, a concise statement about the life of a believer, declares,
As a follower of Christ, I am called not to comfort or success but to obedience.
When I woke up that morning, walking out to the Fulani settlement was the last thing I wanted to do. And after learning that we had missed the old shepherd, I was quick to label our morning a failure.
But I am called not to comfort or success, but to obedience. And this mission is His.
And Christ commands us as followers, with no exemptions, to
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Obeying this command is rarely comfortable or successful by the world’s standards, but we who proclaim Christ as Lord are called to obey nonetheless.
2. THIS MISSION IS HIS. Followers are called to trust, regardless of the circumstances.
Jesus bookends the Great Commission with two statements in Matthew 28.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]
… Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Despite difficult circumstances, followers of Christ trust in him, knowing that the mission belongs to him.
My teammates and I never imagined so many would hear the gospel for the first time. In my discouragement, I failed to understand that our day was not wasted.
I did not consider that the One who created all things, who knows the name of every Fulani shepherd, and who cares for them far more than I ever could, had a much better plan in store.
The aim of missions is to glorify God. But it’s easy to lose this vision when we make things about us.
We experience the true joy of being gospel witnesses when we trust and obey Him, regardless of the outcome or expense. May our hearts be humbled to understand our smallness, may our minds confidently trust in our Father, and may our feet be quick to obey him.
In my time as a support coach, I have yet to see a ministry worker not make it to the field because they were unable to raise their budget as fully funded missionaries. I’ve seen people not go to the field because they got engaged, accepted a different job, or had medical issues—but it has yet to be money that has kept someone from going to the ministry they felt called to.
That being said, I’ve seen numerous ministers scared that they were never going to get to the magical 100% mark. Some just freeze up, unable to move forward because of obstacles and fears.
So let‘s talk about the obstacles and fears we face when raising our budgets. What are some of the most common? And what can we do to overcome them?
Let’s get fully funded.
#1 Obstacle: Perspective/Lack of Biblical Understanding
Viewing fundraising as a necessary evil instead of a vibrant ministry can be the largest hurdle someone raising support can face.
I once heard it said 90% of support raising is perspective. After listening to numerous workers talk about their struggles, I find this overwhelmingly true. Workers who can’t seem to see the awesome ministry opportunities raising support provides them are the same ones who can’t seem to be fully funded, and ultimately will probably walk away from their ministry calling.
Viewing support raising as ministry is vital to staying engaged long-term and excited about the process.
If you go into an appointment seeing it only as a means to an end, you’ll pass up the opportunity to minister to the person across from you—and miss being blessed yourself! Other effects may be:
Coming across as disingenuous
Being sloppy and cutting corners
Awkward and fearful to make strong/bold ask
So how can we overcome a lack of perspective, to be fully funded?
Seek out a biblical understanding of support raising. Discover what God has to say on the subject in the Bible studies in the appendix of The God Ask.
Ask others who have been successful in raising their support about their overall perspective.
Pray continuously, asking and seeking God why He came up with this idea of Christian workers raising their personal and ministry expenses from others. He has already given the answers in Scripture. We just have to find them.
Ever find yourself starting to work on something important, only to be distracted by a text, social media post, or an internet deep dive?
Instead of making progress on your task, do you find yourself watching a YouTube video about a horse and a dog becoming best friends?
Have you ever taken on a project you knew would take a long time to complete (hey, like raising an entire budget?) and instead of attacking it, you procrastinate a few hours instead?
Those few hours become a day, a day turns into two or three days, and two or three days ends up being a week—a wasted week!
Sometimes support raisers will go into total denial and will dream up all kinds of new “to-do’s” to work on, except the one they’re assigned—raising their support!
As a coach, I see this in those raising funds who also have jobs or current ministry responsibilities. They may subconsciously increase their hours at their jobs, or say yes to more ministry opportunities.
Why? Anything to get them out of making the calls and setting up appointments!
(Is that you?)
How can we overcome procrastination to become fully funded?
Set specific, challenging, but reachable goals for yourself each week.
Share those goals with someone who can exercise a little “tough love” and keep you accountable.
Write down those weekly goals and break them down into daily tasks.
Don’t let a week (or even a day!) slip through the cracks. If you feel the “procrastination monkey” starting to crawl onto your back, quickly ask for help, accountability, and advice from those you trust.
Editor’s note: Don’t be afraid to dig into the “why’s” that keep you procrastinating. Are you struggling with fear, rejection, unbelief, perfectionism, feeling overwhelmed…? Prayerfully attack and problem-solve more than the symptom of procrastination.
#3 Obstacle: Lack of Contacts
This is a common one, but may or may not be a real issue. Sometimes it is a perceived obstacle, and if that’s you, you need to face up to reality.
Let’s go straight to the solutions:
How can we overcome a lack of contacts?
Start by checking Facebook. I know not all your 850 “friends” are your best buds, but they are connections you have made over time, including exchanging likes and postings for months or years. It’s an easy next step to message them for a cup of coffee, openly talking about your next adventure.
When namestorming a list of people you’ll be asking for support, make sure you are not limiting yourself to those you think will give. Include everyone you know. Why?
You’ll be shocked when you discover some of those you thought would surely support you, don’t. And those you thought never-in-a-million-years would give, want to jump on your team!
Never let your perceptions (or paranoia!) determine who will or won’t contact. Remember God is in this process. Allow Him to do His job!
If your concern about having a small number of contacts is real (around 85% of the time I find it’s only a perceived obstacle), go ahead and begin your support raising. Work hard to set up appointments with everyone—not just the ones you’re comfortable asking! Along the way, connect with pastors or others raising support and ask for their help and prayers as you overcome. Ask those who are cheerfully supporting you for referrals.Experiment with a fundraising dinner (or other creative events) as ways to possibly expanding your contact base.
#4 Obstacle: Lack of Time
Ministry commitments, large families, full-time jobs, school, frequent social engagements, etc. all vie for daily attention and concentration.
If you find yourself over-scheduled (even before you start raising up your team), you may be tempted to procrastinate, cut corners, or even give up! Be assured, though, that the Lord has given you just the right amount of time each week to accomplish exactly what He wants you to (see Ephesians 2:10).
I know it’s hard to balance everything, but take heart, God delights in giving you grace and wisdom so that in his perfect time, you can be fully funded.
How can we overcome a lack of time, to get fully funded?
Pull your pastor or a trusted friend aside, and the both of you look hard at which of your priorities and time commitments are essential to you and God—and which ones are elective.
Be willing to temporarily cut items from your schedule during the next 3, 6, 9 months of support raising. I know it’s painful, especially if have to set aside social obligations or ministry commitments for a time.
If you are working full-time, consider figuring out a way to move to part-time, or even transition to full-time support raising. That would be the ideal!
Do you have any tips for overcoming these four obstacles so others, too, can get fully funded? Or maybe you have experienced or observed other obstacles that can inhibit successful support raising? Share them in the comments.
We want to hear from you, pray for you, and seek to be of help.
Jenn Fortner is the creator of Financial Partnership Development for the Eurasia Region of Assembly of God World Missions. She is the author of Financial Partnership Development Workbook: Biblical and Practical Tools to Raise Your Support. She also operates as a support raising coach to numerous missionaries, and a speaker on the subject of support raising.