Over the last week, I have been doing a study throughout Scripture on support-raising. As I peruse various portions of Scripture, I have looked for instances where people have been supported by others, where people have asked for support, and where people have supported others. Obviously, there are many examples, starting with the Levites in the Old Testament, and even seeing how Paul both worked as a tent-maker and still received the gifts of others. It wasn’t these examples that spoke to me so much as it was seeing how prayer affects the lives of believers. Don’t ask me how these two things are directly related–but as I was studying, I realized that I had already seen the results of intercessory prayer on my behalf.
When people ask me how I graduated in December debt-free, I say it was a miracle. If someone questions how I managed to get a teaching job mid-year, I claim God’s sovereign hand. Certainly, these answers are true. Yet, at the same time, I believe that prayer moves God’s hand. When I see incredible miracles done on my behalf, I am not only seeing God’s great love for me, but also the love of those who have taken time out of their day, time out of their prayer time and communion with God, to mention my name before His throne. That’s cool! If you are one of those prayer warriors lifting me up, thank you so much! Most of what you do goes unnoticed and unseen, but it does not go unheard. The sovereign God, the Creator, hears your voice and He answers. People like me are the benefactors of your words and it means so, so much.
Thus, when I look at raising support, a task I am suddenly faced with, I do not want to be overwhelmed by the dollar signs. Yes, the minimum recommended support is $3,000 a month, which well exceeds anything I have ever earned on my own in a month. Yes, I my pride hates the idea of asking people for money. Yes, GOD WILL PROVIDE. So as I develop a perspective towards support-raising, I want to see three things in my attitude and actions:
(1) I want to see friends, not dollar signs. This scares me the most about support raising. I love people, and I love making new friends. I do not like the idea of having to look at my friends and ask them to give me money. It seems almost twisted and wrong. When, as a part of my study, I stumbled upon the book Friend Raising, I loved the idea. While in the end, I do have to raise a certain amount of money to be able to go to Papua New Guinea, I want my primary focus to be on developing relationships.
(2) I want to raise up prayer-warriors, not thick wallets. Again, while some finances are necessary, money does not move the hand of God. Prayer is powerful, and as a missionary in a country dominated by animism and dark spiritual forces, I need prayer. I need people at home who faithfully lift me before the throne of grace. Yet, to merely ask people to pray for me would be selfish. Instead, I want to raise up partners in prayer–people who will pray for me, but who will also share their needs with me so that I can pray for them.
(3) Spirit-led givers. I heard of a missionary who once said that he would prefer one dollar given of the Spirit’s leading than a hundred dollars given from man’s effort. For years, I have read stories of George Mueller and Hudson Taylor and envied their faith in God’s provision. As I begin to walk this journey myself, I once again turn to my favorite quote by Hudson Taylor, that “God’s will never lacks God’s supply.” I firmly believe this, and because of that, never want to beg, manipulate, or sob-story people into giving. Rather, I am excited to see how God leads individuals to join the ministry for unreached tribal groups through giving…and how he blesses both parties through their giving.
Finally, I wanted to encourage everyone with an article that I had seen once before, but was read by the senior pastor of Pathway Community Church, where I help with youth group on Wednesday night: Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings, by Tony Snow. My favorite part of this article is at the very end, where he says:
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?….What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God’s hand.
Think on that, my friends! You and I are safe in the hollow of His hands…and there is no better place to be.