I coach new missionaries as they prepare to go overseas. I’ve found I can often predict how quickly they’ll be able to raise support based on one crucial factor: whether they have an advocate who will come alongside them.
What do I mean by an advocate? Let me explain.
Raising support has got to be one of the most daunting experiences in any missionary’s life. So God’s called me to India, but I need you to fork over some cash so I can do it. Sound good? Awesome. What can I put you down for?
Let’s hope it doesn’t come out exactly like that, but it’s what missionaries dread. Raising financial partners has extraordinary joys, but it also comes with dark lows. It’s incredibly intimidating. Dozens – maybe hundreds – of friends ghosting their calls, emails that don’t get replies, events where no one shows up. It can be one of the most demoralizing experiences in a person’s life.
Who can turn that whole experience around? An advocate.
A missionary advocate is someone who enthusiastically comes alongside a missionary and says, “Let’s get that support raised!”
The Springs in Missouri is a church that has sent out several homegrown missionaries in the past two decades. All those missionaries pointed to Ken and Tracy Coleman as vital in making that happen, so I decided I needed to talk to these super-star advocates.
Tracy told me, “When missionaries are raising support, we invite a big group to our house. We let the missionary tell their story. Then we share what donating to missions has done for us personally. We explain how God has blessed us to be part of what God is doing overseas.”
She added, “We challenge people, ‘This is what God is calling The Springs to. This missionary is a tool for that to happen. How can we get them to the mission field? How can we support them in other ways?”
Friends, this is a missionary’s dream scenario. It helps the missionary to know he’s not alone. It helps create true partnerships in missions. And it takes away all the stress of asking for funding.
When a church is too busy or distracted to pay attention to an upcoming missionary, an advocate steps in and rattles some chains. When a missionary is overwhelmed by planning a large dinner, an advocate rallies the troops to make it happen. And when the missionary is depressed and despairing that she’s reached the end of her contacts and has no idea how she’ll raise the final 30%, that advocate is her cheerleader, praying for her and brainstorming fresh ideas.
Maybe this advocate isn’t just one person but a group of people – like a home group or Bible study group. Even better!
And once that missionary has deployed overseas (or in stateside service), that advocate keeps in touch with him. She’s the one who makes sure the rest of the church knows when there’s something big to pray for. When the missionary comes home on furlough, the advocate is the one who organizes housing and a car for the missionary to use. She prompts the missions committee to buy a few gift cards. She communicates with church leaders to find opportunities for the missionary to speak.
I cannot overstate the power of a missionary advocate.
Maybe you have a burning passion to see the gospel go to the nations, but God has called you to stay in your home country. Besides praying and giving, what can you do? Perhaps God is calling you to be an advocate for your missionary.