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 cause. Earlier I wrote an article entitled “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. However, 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 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 took place with my wife during our college ministry days. To appreciate the story, you have to know that Terri is one of the gentlest, mildest-mannered gals you will ever meet. We were spending our time reaching out to the young men and women on the campus. Terri was meeting up with the girls in a few of the different sororities. 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. This is a Kingdom issue because God has led most of our missionaries to raise support from individual donors. I think He does that because He wants the body of Christ to be actively involved in a partnership with the missionary to reach the world. We are all limited by geography but can have vicarious ministries all over the globe by joining financially with international workers. Presently, shop talk among support-raising ministers is how difficult it is to even have other believers willing to make time to meet, and then to get an answer from them is challenging as well. For some reason, many believers are afraid of missionaries, or so it would seem. What should you do if you don’t feel led to support their ministry? I will share 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 supporting their ministry. Meet with them. Listen to what God is up to in their world. I have heard many stories of people who didn’t think they had an interest in a ministry, and after they heard more about it, they realized that they did want to be involved at some level. Though you may not feel led to support them now, the Lord may direct you to play a roll in this particular ministry in the future.
2) Pray about supporting their ministry. There is a great book by Steve Shadrach called The God Ask: A Fresh, Biblical Approach to Personal Support Raising, where he addresses the idea that we need to be open to praying to the Lord and getting guidance from Him about whether or not we should support a ministry. The missionary is asking God to provide for the needs of his or her family and ministry, and the potential donors are asking God where He wants to direct their giving dollars. Sometimes these “random” meetings are the answer to both parties’ prayers.
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 missionaries in their ministry and let them know what you want to do, even if your answer to giving is “no.” They can move on and not have to keep pursuing you, which makes can get awkward and be a waste of everyone’s time.
One of the kindest things you can do is to affirm missionaries in their ministry and let them know what you want to do, even if your answer to giving is “no.”
4) If you are interested in their ministry, ask them to put you on their newsletter list. Sometimes “no” is really “not right now,” and it is just an issue of timing, or maybe you don’t know enough about the ministry to feel comfortable giving yet. Most missionaries give periodic reports of what God is doing in their work. This an inexpensive way for you to stay connected and learn more. God may eventually lead you to partner with them.
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.
If you have an interest in God’s Kingdom, invest your money in it. If you want to grow in your heart for God’s Kingdom, give your money to God’s mission and His missionaries. Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” God may be providing you with 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.