Unshakable Truth as You Head Overseas (PRINTABLE)

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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.

TRUTH AS YOU HEAD OVERSEAS: PRINT IT HERE.

truth as you head overseas

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.

Be glorified.

TELL US: What truths have refreshed you in your path overseas?

Share the goodies with the rest of us in the comment section!

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How to Overcome Obstacles and Get Fully Funded

Reading Time: 5 minutes

fully funded

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 lets 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.

#2 Obstacle: Procrastination

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?)

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.

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“What keeps you going?” The successes we remember

Reading Time: 4 minutes

what keeps you going

Photo: IMB.org

One morning in Guatemala, I walked into our office and found sitting around the table the regional leadership of a group of churches we were working with. They were visiting politely with Melvin, a national pastor we worked with.

I greeted them and visited a moment and then excused myself and made my way to my office.

Of course I was curious what was happening. Still, I said nothing until they had left.

Why were they there? Why were they meeting with Melvin? What were they discussing? (That was only my beginning list.)

When Nothing’s Making Sense

Allow me to pause and ask: What keeps you going when nothing else is making sense?

When you live and work in a country and a culture you didn’t grow up in, but have adopted? When everything is hard to understand? When you aren’t sure you are communicating? When the cost/benefit ratio of missions feels fuzzy or downright disappointing?

Missionaries wrestle with that question somewhat regularly. I wrestle with that regularly.

The Background Story

I found out more of the story after the regional leaders left. But you need the background to the story to understand his answer–and understand what keeps me going.

Our small team had been working with these rural pastors and lay leaders for a couple of years, attempting to bring them resources and training that would help them serve their people and teach their congregations to walk as Jesus would want them to walk.

Periodically in this ministry, we welcomed groups of youth and adults who came down from supporting churches in the U.S. to spend a week. It took a lot of thinking and planning to create a situation which we felt would be a blessing to the churches we worked with and to the group coming down.

so here’s the plan

The groups completed work projects for four hours each morning, then showed the JESUS film each evening in a meadow in a location where our churches were trying to plant a Bible study or home church.

The churches were moderately interested: Maybe it would be worth doing. The JESUS film project offered the use of one of their staffers, along with a projector and screen. We took care of him and covered his costs; he showed the JESUS film in the crowds’ Mayan language and preached a short message and gave an invitation in that same local language. And it multiplied the churches’ reach at no cost to them!

Our group of American gringos, frankly, were the bait to draw a crowd.

Each night we had a good turnout. Some people walked three miles to attend. They seemed interested and somewhat responsive. The church elders stood around watching the crowd and conversing with those who came.

We completed the same routine for four nights in different locations. Then, the group headed home.

The idea: Church leaders would try to follow up with the people they saw at the film-showing over the next 10 days, visiting them in their fields or homes.

Two weeks later we repeated the process with a second national church group and four more locations, showing the JESUS film in a language none of us knew.

“Was it worth it?”

And then we all went home and I asked “Was it worth it?”

I wanted it to be worth the month we had spent with those two groups helping them see what we did there in the mountains. I wanted it to be worth it for both the wide-eyed group from Texas and the collection of churches we had tried to serve.

And then about a month later I walked into the office and some of those same church leaders were there.

I’d had no idea they were coming. But they seemed to have a good meeting.

It turns out they had indeed followed up with the people who they had seen at the showings of the Jesus film. And at each location they’d added 3 or 4 families to the Bible studies or home churches they were trying to start!

They had come to visit with my national teammate, Melvin, to find out how they could arrange to do the same thing all year long on their own.

What Keeps YOU Going

Yes, that made my day. That’s what keeps me going; it’s why I came. So what if they hadn’t talked to me about it?

Their question verified that the new untried evangelism event we had put together actually helped them. It apparently had turned out to be more productive than any “outreach program” they had tried.

We’d ensured all costs of the group would be covered–and the churches had experienced a new tool for growing their churches. And now they wanted to make it their own!

God had obviously showed up. Now, decades later, it’s an event I hang my hat on after all the mysteries of missions: Is what I’m doing working? Are there results to show from all I’m giving up?

(Wondering about what measuring stick to use for success–and what should be the kind of thing that keeps you going? A Life Overseas’ blog offers three criteria.)

When you get to see results that clearly, it keeps you going for a good long while. It did for me!

And even today when I think back over that and other events, unique though each one was, it is a constant encouragement. God calls us to serve him and others, and he is the one who creatively weaves the threads of ministry to produce what he calls success.

It’s well worth remembering those times when you got to see his fingers weaving success into what he’s called you to do.

Global veteran David Armstrong has set foot in 15 countries, and confesses that Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants. Catch his classic post here on 8 Ways to Help your Family Flourish Overseas.

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My Story: The 90% You’d Rather Not Hear About

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Today we’re thrilled to welcome the honest thoughts of an anonymous, vibrant American who found new purpose in the mountains of Kenya. 

The next time you want to ask me, or any global worker, why we’re so tired, please read this first.

Have you ever lived abroad? Have you ever lived among another people group? Have you ever stuck out like a sore thumb no matter where you turn? Have you ever tried to speak a different language 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Have you ever had to be conscious of everything you said, you did, you wore, you ate, you implied, all the time?

“Does she really have what it takes?” On steel in the soul

Reading Time: 2 minutes

strong steel soul

Does she really have what it takes?!

That was the thought tumbling through my mind, straight up, as I levered my jaw off of the ground. Kathy had just informed me that she was heading for Honduras with a friend. By bus.

Informed, not asked. Decided, not considering. A young adult living with us for a couple months in western Guatemala trying to discern God’s leading and call. Quiet, reserved Kathy.

Seriously? Hmmm. Maybe she had more steel in her soul than I thought.