(Preface: Because of my role as a support raising missionary and support raising leader of a missions agency, the need to address the issue of giving toward missionaries that are raising support has long been on my mind. However, it might be easily construed as a ploy to manipulate readers toward giving to us personally or even shaming those who have needed to say “No.” or “Not now.” as we have personally sought funding partners. Please understand that such is not the intent here. Rather, I write the following article more so to encourage missionaries to no longer walk in fear regarding their process of raising support and to encourage those who might be in the midst of making a decision about giving to a missionary to see what a beautiful partnership with God they are about to embark on, as both the go-er and the send-er trust the Lord to supply their needs. Thank you for understanding! ~Rob Casey)
#1 Missionaries need the means to do the work.
Missionaries ask for support, because support is truly needed. If a missionary comes to you to ask you to help them with monthly support, it is because they are facing a need in order to do what God has called them to do. Their electric bill is a part of that. The vast majority of missionaries I have met and worked with sacrifice much, live on less and hate to ask for money. They have done what they can to make things work before coming to you with their presentation about God’s call, the work in the field and the immediate financial need. Joining with missionaries in order to help them reach that need is an incredible blessing to you and your family, knowing that you have been a part of releasing people into the very call of God. How else is the work to be accomplished?
#2 Missionaries aren’t answering a whim, but are responding to the very call of God.
Missionaries aren't merely following the Lord into missions because it's just something that they decided that they wanted to do for fun, but it is because they know that God has told them that they must do it. In fact, most missionaries are facing great fears and insecurities as they humbly seek to obey God’s call, and raising the support necessary to do that can be one of the hardest aspects of that call. It is sad how often I hear of church members making it all the more difficult for these obedient saints, challenging their calling, sense of responsibility, calling them names like “moocher”. Shame on such! When missionaries come asking you for support to go do what God has called them to do, it is important to remember and realize that it is because of the command of God, not a whim or a fancy. The pattern in the New Testament reveals men and women serving while being provided for out of the means of others, whilst they also worked hard for the Gospel and even with their own hands as they could, but none the less living by faith for the work and faith for the provision from God’s people. Therefore, we are partnering with the process of people obeying the Lord and his command to go and make disciples and to fulfill the great commission when we sacrifice in order for a missionary to reach their support goals.
#3 God is a cheerful giver!
The Lord commands us to be cheerful givers! This sentiment is overused in the church today in order to get much less reasonable needs or wants met that do not help the making of disciples. However, when a missionary comes to you asking you to sacrifice and to give cheerfully in order to reach their support goals, it is because the desire is there to see people come to know Christ and to be made into followers of Christ that will make disciples and train others to make disciples as well. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, because the Lord Himself gives cheerfully! Of all the people in the world, Christians ought to be the most giving, most releasing, most free with the resources of His Kingdom toward the meeting of Kingdom needs. When we begin to see all that we have as from the Lord, as truly belonging to Him, and then trust Him with those resources, meeting the needs of the saints as we are presented with them, we find a God who is able to richly supply our needs in Christ Jesus as well. We cannot out-give Him!
#4 Treasures in heaven.
The Lord told us to lay up for ourselves treasures that are in heaven and not treasures that are here on earth. When a missionary comes and asks you for support raising funds, whether that be monthly or annually, it is important to understand that this process of evaluating our own budgets helps us to see what our priorities really are. It is healthy to re-evaluate our circumstances and our finances in order to determine how we can partner with missionaries, thus co-labor with God, in order to see the Gospel go forward in the world. Such an effort, such a sacrifice on your part, does none other than prepare treasures in eternity that we will then lay at the feet of our Lord. Moth, rust, fire and time cannot destroy such treasures. They are eternal, but it requires your faith to see them. To be greeted one day by those precious souls from foreign lands who will attribute their salvation in part to the contributions you sacrificed to ensure that those God was sending could go, could live, could work freely and devote themselves to prayer and the word, and to the work of the evangelist, will be a day of far greater joy than you could experience with any other purchases made here on earth!
#5 The Golden Rule
We understand well what the golden rule says, but we do not often apply it to this situation. The Lord also said to give freely unto him who asks. We often evaluate and scrutinize the worthiness of those asking us for money. It is in part our American culture to do so. If the missionary comes and says that this is what it is that they need from you, and they have taken the time to reach out to you personally or to speak with you individually, then I believe that there is a mandate from the Lord Jesus Himself to figure out how you can be a part of making that happen. It is no easy life that those being sent have said yes to! You are to treat them as you would want to be treated if your life was suddenly dependent on God’s people saying yes to your humble request to fund them. Can you imagine? How would you feel as a husband and father to no longer be able to simply work more hours to provide more for your family? Or as a mother to know that your source of provision is no longer what you can accomplish yourself? While the breath in all of our lungs is from the Lord, and the ability to go to all of our respective jobs and succeed is equally dependent on Him, the great difference between the missionary and those who go to receive a paycheck is that we must invite others to evaluate us constantly, to see the value in our calling almost daily, and to humbly ask that Kingdom-minded people would invest their Kingdom resources into our lives to see His Kingdom advance through us. We are incredibly grateful for all of our supporters, and many of them have said that they would not want to trade places to put themselves out there to receive what can feel like rejection 7 times out of 10.
Remember, also, that if God has told you not to give, don’t avoid the missionary. Tell them! The most painful response is a lack of response! A “No.” or “Not now.” is a release, a time saver, and information that support raising missionaries need. No one likes to feel ignored, unwanted or avoided, as this only empowers a great sense of dejection and forms a great spiritual and emotional attack on the missionary. You will find that missionaries understand more than you think, and they will welcome your honest response with friendship and kindness, with no love lost, as you both continue to pursue what God has called you to. Apply the Golden Rule!
Finally, the commendation of the Philippian church is that they entered into partnership with Paul for the sake of the Gospel. This partnership is a financial partnership, one that he noted other churches had not done in the same way that the Philippian church had. In fact, he states that no other church entered into partnership with him except the Philippian church. He begins the book of Philippians and ends the book of Philippians noting this financial partnership which paid the way for the ministry that Paul had been appointed to. It is clear from such passages that God intends for the church to invest in and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel going forward through whom God sends and calls to accomplish such work. Therefore, we should be mindful that there are those whom God has chosen to go down into the water-well, proverbially, and there are those others whom God has called to hold the rope for them, to help them on their way, to ensure that their needs are met, so that they must not focus on the means to do the work so much as getting to the work itself. It is my hope that these five points of reason will aid you in your decision process to release Kingdom resources in your stewardship to further the work of the missionaries in your life.