(How to support your missionary or ministry in ways they will really appreciate!)
By Cathy Douglass
Like many of you, my husband and I support missionaries whom we know personally and ministries that we are excited about. At the same time, I am the director of a ministry which depends on income from donations. And as missionaries ourselves, we have been blessed for 38 years by ministry partners who have sustained us with their prayers and generous financial support. We have great appreciation for those dear friends and enthusiastic supporters whose faithfulness and concern for the lost keep them giving over the years. Thus, I am in an unusual position to see the world of financial support for ministry from three angles. May I offer some insights on “How to be a better donor”?
- Don’t wait to be asked. If you’re not already supporting a missionary or ministry, or if you have room for more, seek one out and approach the leader/missionary – s/he will be delighted! The Macedonian believers “urgently pleaded” with Paul for the privilege of giving (2 Cor. 8:1-5)!
- Make regular pledges – annual, quarterly, or monthly. It feels good to give a gift on the spot when a missionary comes to speak, but it feels even better to be an ongoing investor in a worthy ministry and watch it grow. When you make regular pledges, you minimize the time your missionary has to spend in support development as opposed to evangelistic ministry. Think about it? Which would you rather see a ministry leader do: Speak in churches raising support, or get out in the field leading the workers and sharing the gospel?
- Be faithful to your commitment. Missionaries and ministries have fixed expenses regardless of whether the support comes through. Every month is an exercise in trusting God to supply! What would you do if a quarter of your paycheck were missing one month?
- Don’t hop around every year to a new ministry. Ministries adjust their budgets and expectations to the growing income, and it’s not very easy to cut back on project commitments once things are underway.
- Give a relationship as well as money. Missionaries love to have a relationship with their donors, both individuals and churches. Can I call you up for an urgent prayer need? How can we pray for you, our supporters? If the ministry you support has hundreds of donors, this may not be easy, but most will want to make the donor-ministry relationship as close as possible.
- If you give through your church, inform the missionary. A single check from the church doesn’t tell us who cared enough to give, and who prays for us! We hope you won’t just “give and forget.” We’d like to send you our prayer letters and ministry reports. Remember, we want relationship whenever possible.
- Make use of your missionary in your church. Missionaries love to share their passion for the Great Commission with anyone and everyone. We have areas of expertise which might bless your church’s programs. Call on your missionary or ministry leader to speak to children’s Sunday school classes, VBS, youth groups, retreats, women’s events, or prayer meetings. We consider it a part of our calling to minister in our supporting churches as well as among the lost.
- Be informed and pray. Make sure you receive the prayer letters, read them, and pray through them often during the month. Pray with your children too. Then tell your missionary that! I’m so encouraged when I get responses from those who read Naya Jeevan’s Breakthrough or our personal “Douglass Diary” prayer letters saying, “Wow, God is doing great things, we’re praying for you!”
Financial partnership with a missionary or ministry can be a rewarding experience. Keep these points in mind for the maximum blessing working both ways!