When my husband and I first felt called to move to Kosovo, we had no plans to become missionaries. We loved serving people, representing Jesus, and all the other hallmarks of missions except for one important detail: we didn’t want to live on support. Though we’d both raised funds for missions in the past, we couldn’t stomach the idea of doing it long term. We didn’t want to be a charity case for our friends, and the whole thing seemed unsustainable. Surely God would prefer us being able to support ourselves where he sent us, right?
I want to set the record straight: my supporters do a great work in me, every day. They are heart-changers, pride-demolishers. They point me to Jesus, over and over.
Wrong. God soon gave us a clear vision of what he was calling us to do, which would definitively require us to live on support. We cringed. We squirmed. But we said yes. During this time, the Lord began to speak to me about pride. Whereas I’d always been taught the virtues of providing for oneself and not burdening others, God was telling me a different story: one in which being independent and isolated was allowing pride to run rampant in our lives. To break the cycle, we need to lean not just on him but also on the community around us.
What followed was one of the most difficult years of my life. In his infinite grace, God sent us to one of the least expensive nations in Europe, but we still struggled with fundraising. Month after month, I hesitated to inform people that we were coming up short. In February, when our support reached an all-time low, I finally sent desperate emails to the churches in our hometown, telling them our needs. Though they came to our aid, I felt humiliated that we couldn’t just make do with our pitiful income.
Despite my wounded pride, it was clear to me what we needed to do. We started opening up to our friends and family, telling them how much we really needed. Soon enough, people began to rally around us, and we finally began to meet our monthly goals. After a hard winter, I was so grateful for these donations, and for the people behind them. I’d always heard the phrase, “God’s will, God’s bill,” but I knew there was more at work here than God showing himself to be our provider. He was showing us the hearts of those around us, and their willingness to hold us up.
It wasn’t until we finally put down this giving wall—for a barrier it certainly was—and humbly admitted our need that we finally saw the generous side of our community. And generous they were.
My husband and I have almost always been the givers in our relationships. It’s part pride, part personality, but either way, we have rarely given people the opportunity to bless us. It wasn’t until we finally put down this giving wall—for a barrier it certainly was—and humbly admitted our need that we finally saw the generous side of our community. And generous they were. People on food stamps sent us money. People under the poverty line sent us money. My friend the staunch atheist, who was racking up debt in graduate school, sent us money.
Every one of our supporters, even the ones who could afford to give, seemed to me like the widow giving her last mites to the temple coffers. I could see Jesus looking on and proclaiming at their great love, their beautiful sacrifice. In my heart, I finally joined in. No longer rejecting their gifts in pride, but seeing their hearts and rejoicing in their decision to love with everything they had.
Often times, I hear people talk about supporters doing their work via the missionaries to whom they give. Though there is certainly truth in that statement, I want to set the record straight: my supporters do a great work in me, every day. They are heart-changers, pride-demolishers. They point me to Jesus, over and over. And if that’s not a missional work, I don’t know what is.
To them, and the many others like them, I give my deepest thanks.