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Friday, July 14, 2006

Thank You

It happens every week. The shiny silver saucer floats down the pew, picking up fingerprint smudges and wadded-up bills. Or maybe your church uses those velvet bags with the wooden handle horns that jingles with change and does cartwheels as it's passed from hand to hand. We call it the "offering."

You put in some money, 10% of your income, maybe more. Maybe less. You give some pocket change or a check, you might even use pink little envelopes that have your name pre-printed on them next to little boxes you can check if you read your Bible that week or brought a friend to church with you. You might give with joy, celebrating God's provision. Maybe you give begrudgingly, out of duty or guilt or tradition. Or maybe you're excited to give, knowing where the money is going and how it will be used.

Thank You.

Thank you for giving money to support us. I know it isn't really us your giving to, but God. But without your gifts, we couldn't be here. Without the faithful giving and cooperation of God's people back home, we wouldn't get to know the blessing of seeing God work in these different cultures. I have benefited from your generosity. I have been able to follow God's lead in my life and represent you on the mission field. He is using your obedience and sacrifice to support mine. I understand that with your support comes great responsibility. I don't deserve the funding I receive. I haven't really earned the trust you put in me. But I know how important it is for me to be a good steward of that support, and to administer the money in a way that pleases God, and extends the Kingdom.

Thank you.


A co-laborer somewhere in the East said...

Well said.

Doug said...

This is the reason I am a fan of the SBC. No matter what our problems are as a convention (and they are many), this is one area where we do well. It is good that the missionaries are adequately funded on the field, that they can rest and recuperate when they come home, and that they have time to prepare for returning to the field. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your work in this way. Be assured that you are lifted up in prayers too.

Paul Burleson said...

Step Child,

I've just finished reading all your posts. I've also read all the comments. Until this morning I'd not connected the dots [blogs] of Mr.T, Guy Muse, David Rogers, and now you. I have now.

I have arranged a place on my desktop for all of your blogs. You will be read regularly and prayed for in the same fashion.

I heard a long time ago a statement made, by who can remember, that said..."God grows His best fruit in the shade". You have reminded me anew of the truthfulness of that statement.
Bless you.

Paul Burleson

stepchild said...

Thank you for reading, and for praying for my colleagues and me. I'm really encouraged by this blogging ring of missionaries, and the open communication this medium allows between us and you.

Anonymous said...

I'll be honest I stopped reading at the beginning, my question to you is "what are you doing? What is ministry to you? I am an Independent Baptist Missionary, and I do not mind being called a missionary. I had to go through a rigorous process to be approved through our organization, but I have to travel church to church to raise my support. I know I am nothing special, just someone willing to follow God where ever he will lead. If you can't tell people what your doing, you should consider something different to do. I don't know much, but I know that I need to get my calling cleared up ASAP. How do you start a church? Maybe that is where you need to begin

stepchild said...

This comment reads as though it was meant to respond to my more recent post, "A Game of What If?"

I appreciate your honesty, but if you stopped reading at the beginning, it makes sense that you would have some questions. You ask what I'm doing. I am working on a church planting team that actively seeks to culturally translate the gospel and share life with the people of this city... wait, you weren't looking for a "mission statement," were you?

I have no problem telling people "what I do." I engage the people of my city through real relationships in an effort to share not just the Gospel massage, but Life with the people God brings to me. The reason I say in my post "Whatever it is I do" is that I don't want to go into a(nother) long rant about how my identity is not wrapped up in my job title. I have written many posts about how "Church Planter" is a misnomer because planting churches is something only God can do. On the other hand, "hanging out with people that I have a lot in common with and living out the good news in a way that makes sense in their context" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Lots of my colleagues and coworkers don't mind being called missionary. That's great. Me, I don't care for the term (for reasons I've detailed in many previous posts). My frustration comes from the fact that while my calling is clear (and biblical) my vocation is not. So I ask a lot of questions and think through all the implications on my blog.

While I admire your willingness to raise your own support, I'm convinced that the fund-raising methods employed by your organization are no better than the IMB's system. Both, unfortunately, rely on appeals that center on the wrong things. (i.e.:"You should give to our ministry because a.) we're working in a really unreached place, or b.) We're "reaching" seven hundred bazillion people every afternoon.") Unfortunatly, things are done this way because the people who support us don't actually know us, and because we're competing with many other "noble causes" that people might want to give to. "Please support me as I obediently do what God has called me to do" just doesn't work anymore.

For the record, though I'm sure of my calling, I am considering something different. I always have. You should, too. That's the only way I can be a good steward of the money that is sacrificially given to support me, and for me to be totally honest when I say, "Yes, I am still called to this."

Thank you for the advice. I invite you to read more on my blog, if you're still interested.