You may not believe this but missionaries are not assuming that you are going to give to their ministry. They hope you might. But honestly, they have no idea where God is going to send the money from. All they can do is meet with folks, share their vision and wait to see what happens. They don’t think less of you or judge you. They just want you to consider their option. Earlier I wrote an article entitle Why would I say no to a Missionary where we addressed the great opportunity to be involved as a financial and prayer partner with ministries around the world. But the reality is that the Lord will not lead us to support every cause we are exposed to. He knows and we know that we have limited resources and must be strategic with the giving money we are stewarding.
the reality is that the Lord will not lead us to support every cause we are exposed to
One of my favorite memories of my college ministry days was one of my wife. To appreciate the story, you have to know that Terri is one of the gentlest, mild-mannered gals you will ever meet. I spent my time reaching out to the men on the campus and she was reaching out to the young women on the campus. There were a handful of sororities and she was meeting girls in the different groups. One day, she was popping by to visit one of the girls and they saw her out of the window and hollered, “the ministry lady is coming- hide”. And they did, under their beds and in their closets. Later, as some of the girls came to Christ and began to walk with the Lord they shared that story of how they felt God was pursuing them and wanted them to walk with Him. And Terri represented the Lord to them.
I share that story because I am concerned about a trend in the church. We are hiding from our support-raising missionaries. And that is a Kingdom issue because God has led most of our missionaries to raise support. I think He does that because He wants for the body of Christ to partner together with the missionary to reach the world. We are all limited by geography but can have vicarious ministry all over the globe by partnering with international workers. But, shop talk among support raising ministers is about how difficult it is to even get an appointment with other believers and then to get an answer from them if you do get a meeting is a challenge as well. For some reason, many believers are afraid of missionaries. Or so it would seem. So, what should you do if you don’t feel led to support their ministry. See some ideas below.
I am concerned about a trend in the church- we are hiding from our support raising missionaries
What should I do if I don’t feel led to support their ministry.
1) Meet with them before you decide. Be open to support their ministry. Meet with them. Listen to what God is up to in their world. I have heard many stories of folks who didn’t think they had an interest in a ministry and after they heard about it more they realized that they did want to be involved at some level. Even if you don’t feel led to support them now the Lord may direct you in the future to play a roll.
2) Pray about supporting their ministry. There is a great book by Steve Shadrach called The God Ask where he addresses the idea that we need to be open to praying to the Lord and getting guidance from Him about whether we should support a ministry or not. The missionary is asking God to provide for the needs of his family and his ministry and the potential donor is asking God where He wants them to direct their giving dollars. Sometimes these “random” meetings are the answer to both parties’ prayer.
3) Let them know what you have decided. Once you have prayed and thought through what to do, let them know. This is no time for hide and seek. Don’t be difficult to reach. One of the kindest things you can do is to affirm the missionary in their ministry and let them know what you want to do EVEN IF YOUR ANSWER IS NO. They can move on and not have to keep pursuing you which just makes it awkward down the road and wastes their time.
4) Ask them to put you on their prayer letter list (if you are at all interested in their ministry). Sometimes our NO is really a NOT RIGHT NOW and is just an issue of timing or maybe you don’t know enough about the ministry to give now. Most missionaries give periodic reports of what God is doing in their work. This an inexpensive way for you to stay connected and learn about their mission. And God may lead you to partner with them in the future.
5) Practice the Golden Rule. Reverse roles with them. Imagine yourself on the other side of the table. What if God had called you to raise support and serve Him in this kind of role. How would you want other believers to respond to you? Treat others as you want to be treated.
One of the kindest things you can do is to affirm the missionary in their ministry and let them know what you want to do even if your answer is no
If you have an interest in God’s Kingdom, invest your money in God’s mission and His missionaries. If you want to grow in your heart for God’s Kingdom give your money to God’s mission and His missionaries. Jesus says, “where our treasure is there will our heart be also”. Maybe God is providing you a divine appointment to be more involved in what He is excited about.
Tim Howington is Executive Vice President for Freedom 5:one and is one of our Financial Life Coaches. He lives with his wife Terri and son Josh in Rogers Arkansas.