Today I want to speak frankly to you about a missionary’s budget. This is not a personal plea for help. What I want you to see is what happens on our end when supporters “drop” us. There is a ripple effect that builds as it moves like a tsunami wave. For some supporters, giving to a missionary means that you sacrifice 2 or 3 Starbucks drinks per week to give $100 a month. For those types of supporters, you may not see how that $100 a month makes much of a difference, so it’s not a big deal for you if you “shift” that money to another “need” every once and a while. For the missionary, it’s a different story. That $100 pledge is significant- it counts… EVERY MONTH. Let me show you how.
Each sending agency is different, but in our agency each missionary raises his own budget which is set by the agency. Our agency does not have any reserve funds for us. We are responsible for all our own support raising. If the funds do not come in, we must come off the field before we are so low that we can’t buy a plane ticket home. This has happened to several of our friends in the last few years. Some of them never recover financially and can never return to the field. This does not mean they lack faith. This means their supporters stopped giving. Let’s be practical.
In our system of fund raising we have many, many small supporters which we bring together over the course of a year or more of itineration. For us it’s a lot of work, but it’s a blessing, because if one or two supporters drop off, we can survive with belt tightening. That’s where we are right now. At the moment, our ministry budget is at zero, and it has been there for months now. That means that any money we spend on ministry comes right out of our personal account. We are personally funding our own ministry. For example, this Friday night we have a meeting for our leadership core at our house. I am making dinner for all of them. The cost of the food will come out of our own grocery budget. The students coming from far off will stay over night in our house. In the morning they will eat our cereal and drink our milk and coffee. Somehow, God always takes care of us and our own children have never gone hungry as we give hospitality to others. That’s where the faith happens. That’s where the miracles occur.
In other missionary sending agencies, one or two large donors support one missionary. That means way less fund raising for the missionary. But I have a friend here working under a system like this and last week they lost one of their two supporting churches. In their bank account they currently have $2,000 will is supposed to last until December when they go home for a month of support raising. They can’t live on that. At this point they don’t even have the money to buy those plane tickets to come home and raise more support. They are living on faith, and God is surprising them with little blessings that trickle in.
You might not think your $100 pledge is a big deal, but it has a big impact on the missionaries. This week as my husband and I discussed our finances we had a little argument which seems humorous now, but it illustrates how your small pledge makes a big difference. I was complaining that we only have one finger nail clipper in the house and I can never find it when I need it. I told my husband I wanted to buy another finger nail clipper to keep upstairs. He said, No, we already have a clipper. I said, Yes, but I can never find it. He said, but we HAVE one already. I raised my voice, Yes, but I can’t FIND IT! I wrote “finger nail clipper” on the grocery list. When he ran to the store next time, he did not buy one. I rebelled and made a special trip to the store to buy a finger nail clipper.
This is a stupid argument, I know, but this is what happens when money is very tight. You might not feel like it’s a big deal to skip a month of your missions pledge. But it’s a big deal on our end. It means we bicker about small purchases, fret over having enough milk for guests, or worse, get stranded in our field and don’t have enough money for a plane ticket home. Please be faithful to your promises to your missionaries. You should never take money from your missionary pledge to “give” to another need. Extra giving should come above and beyond your missions giving.
When you miss a month, we feel it. Imagine if your employer went on vacation and forgot to pay you one month. Or image if he said, “Well, we had another speaker in who presented another need and I felt compelled to give what I normally would pay to you to this guy with the pictures of needy children. I’ll pay you your salary next month, maybe.” That’s exactly what happens to missionaries when supporters skip a month- we don’t get paid. There’s no back up fund to cover your missed payment. Please be faithful in your promises and don’t leave your missionaries hanging. It makes a difference to us when you are faithful in your giving.