About six months ago I had a long talk with a fellow Missionary who is a great mentor in the ministry which helped me decide to come home on furlough in early September. This was a hard decision because I wanted to stay in Melbourne; it was the place God had called me to, and my heart will always be there. However the 2010 and 2011 year where very hard financially and by January of this year it got to the point where the lack of finances was affecting my ministry.
There where many things the Lord had called me to do, such as mentoring the students who I ministered to in the School system or creating activities for the youth and young adults of Cornerstone Baptist, but there just wasn’t enough money to do them.
The Australian dollar for the first time in fifty-years became stronger than the American in late 2010 and currently stands at $1.07 so you lose seven cents on every US dollar that is converted. This results in receiving $250 to $350 less support each month and being under-supported once the currency is exchanged.
My first response was to tighten my budget and cut back on expenses (while praying for Gods provision) but as the months passed the financial need just became greater. One thing my coworker said that night in March stuck in my mind and the Lord used it to greatly convict me; “we need to stop trying to be poor missionaries because it hurts our ministry.”
I wrote a post last month about this poor missionary idea but basically it means you could get away with being under-supported when the American dollar was stronger. For instance when I came back to Melbourne in 2010 the Australian dollar bought .87 US which meant you gained thirteen cents on the dollar, today the situation is reversed and it’s impossible to cover up or compensate for a lack of finances without raising new support.
So I stopped trying to hide my need or cut back more expenses (trying to fix the problem through my wisdom) and instead planned to raise a large amount of support during furlough. During July through prayer, communication with Baptist Mid Missions, and lots of planning with my parents the Lord provided a new budget for my ministry in Melbourne; which calls me to raise at least $900 of additional support a month.
I will just wait for the hysterical laughter to die down……
This new support will be used to gain a permanent residency visa in Australia, which is a great need since they are making it incredibly hard to renew my Religious Workers Visa, and eventually will eliminate it altogether. Currently I am below the minimum annual income so my application will not be accepted without the new support.
In a practical sense it will go towards starting English as a Second Language, Computer Tutoring, and Homework Help ministries that will eventually become outreaches of Cornerstone Baptist Church. Much of the support will also go towards discipleship and small group material, as well as hospitality for fellowship nights at my house, and larger youth and young adult activities.
I share this need with you because it’s totally different from the “bury your financial problem and don’t let anybody see it” response which I was using, and it’s better to share my need and rely on the Holy Spirit than trying to sell my ministry as if it’s the latest ultra absorbent towel on a late night infomercial.
If you do feel the Lord leading you to learn more about my need for support you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave your email address in the comments section, send a private message to me on Facebook, send a direct Twitter message to @jhwilburn, send it by carrier pigeon, or just yell your email really loud while driving by my house.