Here’s a question I get asked everywhere I go: “I feel called to missions but fundraising really scares me.”
Okay, I’m cheating a bit by saying this is a “question” I get asked often. It’s rarely a question; it’s more of a statement that’s left hanging in the air like a dialogue bubble in a comic strip. A nervous person, chewing their lip and searching my face expectantly, still expects an answer though, so I always take it as an unspoken question: *How* can I fundraise? Or perhaps more accurately, how can *I* fundraise?
Before we go any further: If you are a teenager (or know of one who feels called to missions), DO NOT GO INTO DEBT for your education. This is the biggest deterrent to your destiny. If you feel called to ministry of ANY kind, I venture to say, serious debt will prevent you from being able to serve the Lord wholeheartedly and without limitations.
Just this past week a university student asked me, “How could you go straight into missions after college? What did you do when your loans kicked in?” Well, I didn’t have any loans. (I know—that’s a miracle in its own right and one for which I still thank God, my parents, and various scholarship organizations!). Going into debt to go into ministry doesn’t work. You’ll never “make enough money” in God’s work to pay off five-figure debt. So it creates a trap that will hold you back from being able to fully pursue God’s calling.
Go to state schools, community college, your local “school of ministry” or extension campus —anything to get your education and training, but as cheaply as possible. And if I’m being perfectly frank, we actually need more missionaries with business training, education studies, international relations, English degrees, or even a degree in Spanish! You’ll be able to bring in your theology classes eventually, and you’ll have valuable skills and knowledge that you’ll still use in missions!
I’m not one to discourage anyone from a Bible school education. After all, I did that route, and I value my experience there, as much as my education. But DON’T GO INTO DEBT to do it. And mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be debt-ridden.
Other than debt, the fundraising pressure for most people is the idea of not knowing any millionaires to ask for funding. Well, guess what? I don’t know any either! In fact, I also felt intimidated to raise funds. I’ll tell you a little secret: EVERY MISSIONARY I know felt intimidated to start fundraising. In fact, if you don’t feel nervous about it (“Oh I totally can raise thousands of dollars. I know many millionaires personally!”) I’d worry about you! Fundraising is a FAITH journey, and if you have all your money handed to you, you really never learn that level of faith. And you’ll need to learn that dependence on God well before you actually get to the field, so fundraising is a good way to develop some mature faith.
Of course, it’s hard. It’s particularly awkward for Americans, trained to be independent and financially stable, to “beg” for money. It’s hard for women, singles, young people, men, married couples, people with kids, older folks—see the pattern here? It’s hard for EVERYONE. Don’t let one of these categories discourage you from fundraising. That’s the Enemy trying to convince you that you CAN’T fundraise because you’re a single woman, or a married family with four kids.
YOU CAN, because GOD SUPPLIES.
God confirms His calling on your life, and the proof is the way He brings support to you. Of course, you’ll have to do some work: write the letters, make the phone calls, go have coffee and explain your vision to friends and extended family. You’ll make lists of old classmates and Sunday School teachers, and you’ll drive for miles to talk to youth groups and women’s quilting groups. You’ll shake hands with a thousand pastors you’ve never seen before and learn to remember all their names. You’ll have to follow through on the techniques of fundraising/friendraising, but GOD WILL SUPPLY what you need.
And He’ll do it in the craziest ways! You’ll meet people in the lobby of Jiffylube while the oil is changed in your car, and people will ask about the papers you’re working on (yup, true story!) or you’ll talk to your friends in a restaurant about your missions project, and random strangers will pull their tables/chairs closer to listen in (yup, happened in a Bob Evans once!). People you *don’t know* will give you money, teenagers with after-school jobs will send you $5 a month; widows on a fixed retirement income will sacrificially give, and all of these people will PRAY and BELIEVE in what God is doing in the country or project you represent. You are also raising PRAYER and AWARENESS of the need everywhere you go.
You’ll have your own crazy stories of where the money came from and how God totally surprised you —and I pretty much guarantee it won’t come from millionaires. It will come from folks who just want to love God, serve others and support those of us who will GO.
God will give you the strategy. He’ll give you promises from His Word and deep, deep certainty of your calling and His character. He’ll prove Himself faithful over and over as He provides for you.
So, don’t worry if it intimidates you to think of fundraising—it’s supposed to. That’s why we rely on God and He never fails.