There are many happy memories of the fun experiences I had with my parents in July, then there were things that I didn’t enjoy but where still necessary. One of those was the morning my father and I spent a few hours putting together a budget for the next four years serving in Melbourne which would reveal exactly how much support needed to be raised during the furlough. Lets just say there where a few other things I would have preferred to be doing that morning (have someone rip my right arm off and then beat me with it) especially when the amount of money to raise continued to grow.
To be honest I wanted to create another budget that demanded significantly less financial support as a goal during furlough, but chose not too, because missions can no longer be cheap.
Allow me to explain what I mean by this; many missionaries during the support raising phase of ministry either leave for the field without raising the proper amount of support or not raising enough funds to live and minister effectively in that Country. We (myself included) could get away with this because the American dollar is stronger than the currency of other Countries. For instance, in January 2010 one US dollar would buy $1.11 Australian, this may not seem like much, but the eleven-cents really adds up when you transfer thousands of dollars. Add to this the fact that items cost less than you would pay for them in the States and it’s quite easy to overcome being under-supported.
However in recent years the weakened US dollar has changed this situation completely. Suddenly instead of gaining eleven-cents on thee dollar you are losing four, and thriving economies on the mission field drives the prices of needed items higher. Many missionaries when faced with their financial need do the same thing I did and tighten their budget in every way possible, but eventually learn this response ends up harming their ministry. The next phase for me was sharing every financial need in the most emotional way possible and ask for help…this helps short-term but takes the focus off God and it becomes about making people feel a certain way.
If the last two years have taught me anything it’s no amount of budget tightening, emotional ministry updates, or begging can fix a lack of financial support. The only way to do this is create a budget through prayer, Bible study, and discussion with trusted friends that raises the bar financially. The kind of budget that makes you shake your head and laugh because there is no way you can raise that much money without the Lord’s help. The kind that makes people spit coffee out of their mouths and say, “How much are you trying to raise?” The kind that leads you to your knees in prayer before God instead of the latest marketing book.
Those hours creating the new budget where excruciating because it took my financial need and put it out on the table for everyone to see. But that moment of embarrassment is worth having a goal that clearly defines what needs to be done for me to have an effective ministry in Melbourne financially. Don’t worry folks I won’t share the amount of support that needs to be raised, I prefer to do it in person so I can see the looks on your faces.
Just try not to take a sip of coffee before I do it.