I celebrate birthdays by eating donuts. This does not make me a man, but it does give evidence of my manhood. You need to know that I take manliness seriously; otherwise, this post will lack power of any kind.
When I first began considering missions about nine years ago, I tried to talk myself out of it. If I’m honest, there was only one thing holding me back from fully embracing the idea–financial security. The idea of raising support and depending on other people to provide for me and my ministry was unattractive. Or, maybe repulsive would be a more accurate descriptor. I think that many potential missionaries have been kept off the field out of a fear of asking for money. In our pride, we would prefer to be financially independent–to not have to ask anyone else to help us out.
Obviously, God has done something to change my heart, or I wouldn’t be in the middle of the support raising process right now. I want to share how my views have changed, in the hope that it will encourage others who are wrestling with the same thing. I want to see more laborers enter the field. Don’t let a fear of support raising keep you from laying your life down for Christ.
We officially started asking people to support us financially in March, and I can honestly say that it has been an incredible blessing. Don’t get me wrong, the past two months have been difficult. Just not in the way I expected. Nine years ago when I was first wrestling with the idea of support raising, I was afraid of “feeling like a beggar.” The picture I envisioned was a man cowering in a corner with a timidly outstretched hand, whispering weakly, “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could you please, you know, giving me some money or something.” I thought the difficulty of support raising would be a sense of shame for needing money to go for the sake of Christ.
In reality, the difficulty of support raising is the daily grind. It’s like the two-a-day football practices when you’re in the hot sun, hitting each other for the first time in nine months. It’s simply tiring and leaves you a bit on the sore, sweaty side. If that sounds manly to you, that’s because it is. Support raising is a lot of work, especially when you’re also working a full-time job and raising two little ones. It’s a good work though, full of joy and deep friendship–a Fellowship of the Ring kind of bond.
The idea of doing business as mission is growing in popularity and deservedly so. The thought is, “Why raise support to go to an unreached people group, when you can minister within the context of a self-sustaining business?” There is certainly biblical precedent for doing so–the Apostle Paul is famously known for supporting himself as a tent-maker.
However, “tent-making” appears to be the exception, not the norm in the Bible. I believe that tent-making and/or business as mission should be pursued when it is most advantageous for the spread of the Gospel. Even Paul relied on the support of other believers part of the time, if not most of the time (see 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 or Philippians 4:15-18 for a couple examples). More importantly, Jesus, the manliest Man of all, relied upon the support of others (Luke 8:1-3). If the King of the Universe who lacks nothing and reigns over everything can humble himself to accept the support of others, who I am to think myself above it?
Although we initially considered the idea of going to Japan as English teachers, we believe that our gifts, personalities and circumstances lend themselves most effectively to the spread of the Gospel as full-time missionaries. Once we reached that conclusion, it was a simple choice–we must sacrifice financial independence (or at least the illusion of being financially independent), because it will free us up to do what we really feel God calling us to do, namely make disciples. We will gladly rely on the financial support of friends and family members, if it will result in people coming to know, love and savor Jesus Christ!
So now, here we are. Two months into support raising. Like I already mentioned, it’s tiring work, but it’s a good kind of tiring. It is an awesome thing to invite people to become “partners in the gospel” with us (Philippians 1:5). Every time we share our story with others, I get a little bit more excited…not only about the work we will be doing in Japan, but also about the fact that the people we love get to be a part of it. By God’s grace, you are literally what makes our ministry possible. We are the ones who are uprooting our family and moving to the other side of the world; yet, we’re not the only ones who are making a sacrifice. Many of you are, too. Praise God for this gift!
By the grace of God, I can now confidently ask–without any sense of shame or loss of manhood–“Will you consider being a part of our ministry to Japan?” We’re not after money. We’re after more than that. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We want your heart to be invested in our ministry. And, we want the opportunity to tell people about Jesus Christ who would otherwise not hear about him in a true and meaningful way. We can’t do that without the generous support of our friends and family members. And, we wouldn’t want to, either. If you haven’t already, please let us know if you are interested in being a part of our ministry in Japan.