I’m tired of asking you for money. There. I said it. After almost 9 years of living off of missionary support, I have grown weary of the fundraising process.
It has never been easy. In fact, in the beginning it was downright terrifying. I remember sitting in my little girls’ room with a list of people on the floor and my cell phone in my hand, praying, asking God for the strength to just help me get through three phone calls that day — just three. Three phone calls to set up a time with people, letting them know that after we shared about our ministry we would be asking for money.
A few were able to tell me right then on the phone that they couldn’t support us, but most agreed to meet with us and out of everyone we met with, around 90% chose to financially support us. God was incredibly gracious to us and we left every meeting feeling strengthened, and not just about finances. Almost everyone wound up praying for us and speaking encouraging words over us.
God always surprises you, too. The friends that you think will no doubt support you, don’t, and people whom you barely know, will. We had people tell us that God told them to cancel their cable to support us. Ultimately, financial support isn’t just about someone choosing to partner with you, it’s also about what God is doing in them.
After 9 years, it is expected that there will be ebbs and flows to support. People inevitably have to drop out or lower their support. Some do it when they encounter financial changes, some because they feel led in a different direction. Maybe some people no longer identify with what you do. It’s expected, but still difficult.
As we prepare for next year’s budget we ask ourselves again, as it has become an annual tradition, will we have enough to meet all of our needs this year? Some years we’ve had more than what we needed, some years not.
We often straddle the line between the poverty mentality and the prosperity gospel. Where we live, we are rich in comparison to most, if not all, of our friends and colleagues from our host country.
So we ask ourselves these kinds of questions, seeking God’s wisdom in the midst of money guilt and confusion: I’m close to burn out, but is it really okay for us to take vacation? I guess they can wear these shoes a little longer — I mean, the hole isn’t completely through the sole yet. If I drive the scenic route to the office that will cost me one more kilometer of fuel, am I being a good steward of my gas?
We wrestle with saving money when our friends don’t have enough to buy soap. Our sending organization requires you to budget for savings. This comes with the experience of many veteran missionaries who, after returning to their passport country, had no money to send their kids to college, no money to live off of — nothing. So, out of obedience, and using Biblical wisdom, we try to save when our finances allow for it.
We also deal with the pressure of marketing ourselves. Over and over again, selling ourselves to donors, praying that we’ll appeal to their hearts.. and their wallets. It’s hard and strange and vulnerable and honestly, I don’t want to do it anymore.
It hurts when people say they’ll support you and they don’t. It’s painful when people drop their support without explanation. It hurts when you contact people and they don’t even acknowledge that you have. It’s vulnerable and exposing and most of the time I just want to cover up and hide away.
And that is when I have to look to Jesus: my Provider, Comforter, and Strength. The one great gift from a lifestyle reliant on the money of others is the radical, humbling realization that we are absolutely, 100% dependent on God—not people. It brings me to my knees with desperate prayers on my lips: for provision, for courage, for open hearts.
The money doesn’t always flow in immediately; we summon God’s strength and continue to ask. We draw near to Him and allow Him to build up our character and reshape our hearts. We pull back our spending for ourselves and perhaps begin being more generous with others. And we pray and pray and pray.
For the supporters reading this: thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you for the value you see in us and what we do. Thank you for partnering with what God is doing in the world.
For my fellow reluctant fundraisers: stay the course. God will provide for whatever it is He’s called you to do. Know that you’re not alone, that we feel it too. Embrace the closeness of God in the hours spent asking and waiting for answers. And trust Him.
Erin Duplechin is a missionary wife and mom of three living in Papua New Guinea. She serves in missionary care while supporting her husband’s Bible translation with the Mbore people. Before moving overseas, she served as a worship leader and continues singing and writing songs abroad. When she can, she writes about God and jungle life at erinduplechin.com.