Ask a Missionary #4. We never have enough money but feel guilty asking for it.
Missionaries ask for money. We have to. We put it in terms like “opportunity to support’ or ‘be part of the blessing’ or ‘looking for monthly partners.’
What we want to say is, “We are dying here! Please help us! We need money!!”
We can’t do that. We have to appear above money. We need to make it seem like money is something that we could probably use, but no big deal. We are walking by faith and trusting God to provide…that is what we need to display. You see, we don’t want it to seem like all we want from you is your money. It isn’t, but in all honesty we do need money. We need it for our family and for our ministry. We just hate asking for it, and you hate hearing it. So, we keep quiet or couch our needs in spiritual terms.
Another part of this is that we really struggle with being judgmental over money. This just happened this week. I posted a need for our ministry. We would like to purchase some additional dental equipment to help with our evangelistic dental ministry. We need $700. At the same time, a friend of ours in the States who sings occasionally at coffee houses posted that he wanted to raise $4,000 to make a CD. We had $210 donated. He received $4,300. Really? I am not saying that he should not do this nor that it was wrong for him to raise money for it, but really? He got $4,300 to experiment with a CD and we could not raise $700 to help the poor hear about Jesus through dental missions. Really?
Ask a Missionary #5. We feel like our children are getting shortchanged by our choice.
You will see cool pictures in my newsletters of my children helping do outreach, being in the jungle, washing orphans or having a monkey on their shoulder. It all looks so cool. But the truth is, we feel like our kids are suffering because of us. This is compounded by Facebook. Just this week I have seen photos of kids playing football, music lessons, dance, debate, camps, concerts, movies, lock-ins and taking college classes at the community college while in high school. My kids do nothing like that. I know that I can post all the cool things that my kids do, but I simply cannot compete with the options that you have. I find myself fighting jealousy, envying and coveting.
Ask a Missionary #6. I took a great vacation but I cannot tell anyone.
One of the neat things about social media is how we can share our lives with others. Pastors can go on cruises. Friends can go to some wonderful island. Family can travel Europe. They can all brag about their time and post photos on Facebook and social media sharing their joy.
We can save up money. Live on a budget. Spend less than we make. Then, after five years of frugality, take a much needed vacation. What do we hear? “I should be a missionary, then I could take cool vacations.” Or, “Is that where my donations go?”
Real example. My father passed away and after the initial burial and settling of the estate, I found myself with $19,000 of unplanned income. We prayed about it, and decided to tell the kids that grandpa wanted to bless them. So, with MY INHERITANCE, while we were in the States on a planned furlough, we rented a home outside of Disneyworld and after vacationing there took the whole family on a cruise. We received several snide comments and one donor quit giving to our ministry.
My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this year. We did something really fun to celebrate. Here is what we did. We told our kids, “This is on the down-low. Do not say anything about it to your friends and do not put anything on Facebook. We don’t want anyone judging us.”
How stinky is that? You can share your joy, we feel like we have to hide ours or people will think and/or say that we are somehow taking advantage of our donors. We would love to post photos of our fun and have you just say something nice…but we can’t.
Ask a Missionary #7. We hate being judged by a standard that our judges do not follow.
Every missionary that reads this will scream “Amen!’ When we meet with mission committees, churches, sending groups and donors, they always ask us very specific questions. I have NO problem with that. What drives me bonkers is when someone NOT doing what I AM DOING judges me because they don’t think that I am doing enough of what they are not doing.
The best example of this is when you meet with a missions committee and they ask us about our evangelism. I share how, this year alone, we have shared the gospel with over 2,000 people (true story) outside of the church walls and have baptized 35 adults. The committee talks a little and then says something like, “We are concerned about the follow up of the converts and why so few have been baptized. We would also like to hear more about your evangelistic endeavors. What do you do and how do you do it?” Then, after sharing what you do and how you do it, they have critical comments and corrections about methodology.
The problem is this. The church that this mission committee is a part of hasn’t baptized 35 adults in the last 10 years and does not have a single planned evangelistic event on their church calendar.