There’s a lot of beautiful mystery in the story of the magi.
One year after my family arrived in Uganda, I sat in a gentle sunrise on our porch, overlooking a corner of our neighborhood–and evaluating my expectations overseas.
The same cookfires exhaled ribbons of smoke to the sky. The same lorries trundled down the street. Passersby trudged by in the same hole-y clothes and well-worn shower shoes.
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 www.rebeccahopkins.org–and don’t miss her latest article on Christianity Today, “The Missionary Kids are Not Alright.”
Hot day. Six stores. No battery available anywhere for our generator.
Oh, you look so beautiful! I love that you’re still wearing makeup and your toenails are painted. I bet your legs are shaved too!
Ooh-la-la! Soak up those feminine vibes now, my dear. But don’t fret. As you lose your American shine, you’ll be gaining plenty in its place.
Enjoy where you are now, new missionary me. Be fully here.
You’re looking in an overseas direction, maybe even beginning the sacrifices to get there.
Perhaps you’ve sold the Volvo, put the kids’ bikes on Facebook Marketplace, said goodbye to the grandmother you’re not sure will make it to your first home assignment.
Reading Time: 2 minutes
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.
TRUTH AS YOU HEAD OVERSEAS: PRINT IT HERE.
Lord, all this–the endless to-do’s, the appointments, the support raising, the goodbyes, the questions, the applications, the wondering–every bit of the mundane and marvelous are for you.
Let my sacrifice be sweet to you. Sink my trust of you deeper into my soul, and prepare the way for you inside of me, around me, the place I’m headed, and everywhere in between.
My eyes are on you. My hope is in you. And my future is yours.
Reading Time: 4 minutes
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 include all the expenses of fielding the missionary. Besides a salary, budget categories might include
It’s also wise to include some kind of surplus account, or perhaps a 5% buffer built right into the budget in anticipation of
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.
Editor’s note: If you’re considering going without a sending agency (and budgeting is one of your reasons), be sure to check out our series on the pros and cons.
It’s tempting to cut out things like contingency and retirement funds, but if missions is your career, you may regret neglecting such things.
Online resources you may find helpful: sample missionary budgets, basic budgeting forms, and How Much Is Enough?
Answer from Marti, who’s served as a mission mobilizer since 1995, including more than ten years with Pioneers.
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.
Answer from Sam in Taiwan, who has served with Beyond and Joni and Friends for well over a decade.
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
Editor’s note: When considering what to relate to potential financial supporters about your own budget, see this post, “RAISING SUPPORT: 2 COMMANDMENTS OF SHARING BUDGET NEEDS”. Sometimes missionary budgets are difficult for non-missionaries to understand without passing undue judgment.
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:
Answer from John, the Human Resources director for Engineering Ministries’ International’s offices around the world.
How to Overcome Obstacles and Get Fully Funded
“Is there any way other than begging for financial support?”
The Fix: For What Might Be Broken in Your Fundraising
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Editor’s note: We’re stoked to feature this article from another one of Go. Serve. Love’s round table partners, Support Raising Solutions. (Yes! That organization is a thing.) In our quest to present you overseas fully-funded, we’re happy to welcome back the indomitable Jenn Fortner, support-raising expert extraordinaire.
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?
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:
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?
Don’t feel alone. Stats on procrastination:
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?)
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.