Money, Mission and Ministry

Currently in the process of raising support to be part of the IT team in OMF Headquarters.  Jotting a few thoughts, reflections and emotions.

I can still remember the shock and impossible feeling when the OMF missionary told me about this role and it was a non pay role.  Aka.  I have to raise my own support OR God has to open up the supplies for me to go.  That was in February.

In my prayer letter, I asked people to pray for me to not be so focus in money.  Of course, money is needed in order for me to go.  At the same time, many people asked me whether I should do this or do that in order to raise funds.

I once heard of a missionary going to Africa and the church organized a fair where people play games and win prizes to raise funds.

In my church, we sent a number of youths to Peru on a short term mission.  They had a number of ways to raise support.  One of them is becoming a slave for someone (detailing their cars, doing their chores etc.).  Someone suggested I should do that.

At first, I thought about doing a fundraising dinner.

There are many ways in raising support. OMF has a policy of non solicitation.  This is, I am technically, not suppose to ask directly for money.  Based on the tradition of Hudson Taylor (and other OMF missionaries) on how he raised funds (simply through prayer and relied on God), it seems that raising support today is so different.  This is not to say that the non solicitation method is the ONLY Christian way of doing things.  Even Paul in his ministries asked for other church to contribute (Romans 15:24-25) as he is on his way to go to Spain.

And I see how raising support, though it is for God’s ministry, at times can be quite commercialize.  If this is a human endeavor, this is how you do it.  You network.  You meet as many people as you can.  You focus on those who can give (aka those who are rich).  You pass bulletin.  You sell and market yourself.  You build relationships.

In my mind, if I need more money.  I will just get a second job.  Why not?  It is much easier and I can probably make a lot more.

It is so much more tempting to focus on the money aspect and my eyes from seeking Him.

Money, the love of money, is evil.  While many of us will reason that, well we do need money to live, so what is wrong with asking for it.  Myself included, wonder how often I ask for money and I am not satisfy.  (Side note: I am taking from a context that I have far more than I need in a world where most people live less than 2 dollars a day….).

And so, what do I do?  What do I say? be honest, when people ask me about this topic, I stutter.

Where do I start?  I start off with saying…seek God first and let’s see how He provides.   Perhaps I can ask them to pray together with me.

The question I ask myself is how am I following His Will and not my will?  What’s the method where I can surrender everything to Him?  It would be quite ironic if I am doing the Lord’s work and yet not follow His Will.

For me, I focus on prayer, faith, and surrendering.

First, pray and be close to Him.  We can do many things.  But everything starts and continues to be in relationship with Him.

Second, have faith, many people ask me about my current job and what not.  It is no big deal.  It looks like the end but it is not.  Selling everything, withdrawing investments, these are all simply a matter of faith (or obedience).

Third, surrendering.  I have trouble talking about living everything for Jesus if I don’t do it physically.  Is how I spend and how I save consistent with my preparation?  I believe there is a huge portion of it is just let go.  Even Jesus said to the rich young ruler, sell everything, give it to the poor and follow Him (Luke 18).  Or deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me (Matthew 16).  What can I say about surrendering in a culture which we aspire to collect and accumulate?  It is different.  And at times, I don’t realize how much I attach to my things until I sell them.

So is this to say that I don’t ask and just sit around? Well, there are many ways to raise support.  But for me,  right now, I am leaning towards on faith and pray.  This is not to say I do nothing.  I request my church to partner with me.  My friend asked me to submit an application to her church for support.  I am thankful with the positive response and the response from my congregation in supporting me.

So this is the fine line I am walking.  Maybe it is easier to go and promote this big thing.  But I am cautious as how often it draws attention to me and not to Him.  Cliff, the faithful one, is taking this big adventure to risk life to follow the Lord.  Cliff is risking everything.

Mission is never about what we do or what we give.  Mission is about He is doing.  It is God’s very nature to send out and to go after the lost (this is very missional and Missio Dei thinking).  We are merely a participant in this.  Yes, we should encourage each other on the Great Commission. But may we never lift up ourselves higher than the source and sustainer of Mission.

At this point, OMF is asking me to come earlier because they need me by mid Nov.  So what does that mean?  How will the funds raise?  I have no idea.

I am hopeful.  Because this is all up to Him.  He has to open the doors.  He knows the need of many Asians who do not know the gospel  He knows my desire to serve.  He knows that I can contribute by ensuring the admin process of being a missionary is easier and communication between different parties (home side team, field side team, missionary, support staff) be made seamlessly.

And I am most hopeful because God always pull miracles when there is no way.  Perhaps this is God’s nature to show that it is only Him that works.

I recalled Moses and parting of the Red Sea.  It was at the point when the Egyptians were behind them and there’s no way out when God opened the way for the Israelites (Exodus 14).  Or Gideon when God reduced his army to a mere 300 against the enemy as many as the sands on the seashore (Judges 7).

This is God.  He is active as this is His mission and I am simply a participant in this.

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”1

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Exodus 14:13-18

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