Though I’m sure they’d been around for decades, I was in college when I saw my first televangelist. It was a late night, my friends and I were watching Simpsons reruns, and when the channel was turned, there the guy was, crying into his shirt sleeve and promising that if we would just send him $100.00, he would send us a handkerchief *1* that had been blessed by him personally. As young, indignant college students this raised our ire a bit, but what was truly infuriating was that if you wanted to make a donation, you could call a 1-800 number for free, but if you needed prayer, well, that was going to cost you money. My take-away from that evening, right or wrong, was that there was something inherently seedy about a Christian asking specifically for money to support a ministry.
Obviously, there’s a gulf of difference between most Christian ministries and those that advertise on late night public access television. Christians can and should take umbrage with many of the things espoused on such shows, perhaps the least of which is their funding. But, there are Christians, some of whom are much closer to our hearts, who would say that the lesson learned from those shows is a good one, because a Christian minister or missionary should not ask for money, but rather trust God to provide for their needs. Early on in our missionary life *2* we met with a gentleman who advised us not to ask for money as we raised support. He said that we should have faith, trust in God, trust in God’s people to provide, and not worry about the specific amounts that would come in. I doubt that this gentleman will ever read this post, but if he does, or if anyone else does who knows him, then let me say that his advice, such as it was, was good, and founded on a lifetime of personal missionary experience, and more importantly his advice was edifying to both Donnette and I as we sought to determine what sort of missionaries we would be. Which is to say, his advice was good, or at least came from a good place, because to not trust God, to not have faith in Him and His people would be a serious problem for any minister or missionary to have. I can say already that it is far too easy to look at people, to evaluate relationships, based on dollar signs, and that is certainly not a quality I wish to cultivate on a long-term basis.
Moreover, if nothing else our history over the last few years should remind us that we need to trust in God to provide for our needs and not worry about the rest. We started seminary four years ago with the money to pay for one semester only, and yet each quarter the money came in from a whole variety of places and people. Even as I sit here and think about it I’m amazed at the different ways God provided for us over that time, everything from random money coming in for us to a wonderful person offering to watch Avonlea while I was in school. The provision didn’t stop with graduation either, even as recently as last week we needed some car repair done, and on my way home from the shop I received an email *3* saying that someone from our church had given almost that exact same amount to us anonymously. So, in one sense at least, we, like all Christians, are to trust God and live by faith that our needs will be provided for in due time.
However, I think there’s a missing element to thinking like this, particularly as it applies to support raising. I’ve written it before, and I most certainly believe it, that what we’re doing, raising money and going to France to plant churches, it’s a partnership between us and those who are supporting us. It’s a partnership between you and me, with the mutual goal of seeing the Gospel go forward into places where it currently is not. All of Paul’s letters, but specifically Philippians 4, make it clear that Paul viewed his work as not just his own, but a union between him and those who had enabled him to go. Paul says in Philippians 4 that his work was to their (the Philippians) credit, a fragrant offering to God. His ministry was a partnership with them, and I firmly believe that our ministry is in the same way a partnership with you.
And if that’s true, then it only makes sense, to me at least, to tell you what we need. Because I can’t think of any other scenario in which people who are partners in a work don’t share their needs with one another. My wife and I are partners in our marriage; we share our needs with one another. Already, I’ve seen the missionaries we’ll be working with share their needs with us, because again, we are in partnership with them as well in this work. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, or to see how many times I can type the word partner in a single paragraph, but I hope you all get my point. We are united in this work, to the glory of God.
And so, our needs. In order to complete some of the training we need to complete for MTW over the summer, we need to be at or close to 80% of our monthly support goals by April 15th of this year. Practically speaking, this means that we need to raise about $4,000 per month over the next 2.5 months in order to achieve this goal. This seems like a ton of money, and in reality, it is. It’s certainly more than any one, or even ten people could or should be expected to give, yet it’s what we need to be able to move forward. What this means is that we need to meet with people, a lot of people *4* to reach our goal over the next few months. We need people who are willing to support us, or willing to promise to support us *5* on a monthly or yearly basis. We need churches and individuals, families and singles, we need, well, everyone who can support us, to support us. That’s what we need, by April, to be able to stay on track with our current plans. *6*
Finally, let me say this. I know that many of you, for any number of reasons, are not in a place where you can support us financially, and let me say that, that’s okay. I am confident that we will be provided for in due time, and it is in no way our intent to cause people harm as we seek to raise support to do this work. If you can’t support us financially, then pray for us, pray for us when you finish reading this post, we need prayer, more than we need money. (If you are supporting us financially, we’d still like you to pray for us =)) If you can’t give, but you know someone who might be interested in supporting us, then put us in contact with them, as we’d love to meet with them and talk about what God is doing in France. You just never know who’s going to give, and that more than anything else keeps us humble and grateful and appreciative of the weird yet amazing way God provides for His people. And as always, if you’re reading this, know this. I’ve been honest about our needs with you all, and we mean it when we say we want to know what your needs are as well. It’s as simple as an email – we’d love to have the privilege of praying for and with you all.
If you’d like to support us, here’s a link to MTW’s website where you can do so online. https://donations.mtw.org/donate/default.aspx If, for some reason, the link doesn’t work, then please go to MTW.org, click on our missionaries, and then find our name (we’re the Brock’s, but you knew that didn’t you!) and then click the donate box. Our number is 10860. Thank you again!
*1* I can’t say for absolute certain that the blessed object in question was a handkerchief. I think it was, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it. What I can say for certain is that if it was not a handkerchief, it was something equally benign and not worth a tenth of the donation price, “blessed” or otherwise.
*2* Given that we’re still very early on in our missionary life when compared to our lives as a whole, this may be an unnecessary qualifier.
*3* For those of you who care about safety, it came while I was driving home, but I didn’t check my email until I was safely in the driveway.
*4* Donnette and I have debated about the best way to break this down into real tangible numbers, and so I’ll present you with a the various alternatives we came up with. I said, to be where we need to be by April, we need 80 people to support us at $50.00 per month, because I like simple math. Donnette thought we’d be better off asking for 20 people at $25.00 per month, 40 people at $50.00, and 20 people at $75.00 a month because she, by nature, likes to make things more complicated. At the end of the day, these numbers are pretty arbitrary, and we are content with whatever amount people can support us at, be it $10.00 a month, or ten times that amount.
*5* I would point out that if you want to support us once we reach the field, or at some point in the future but not right this minute, that’s okay too. It would still be immensely helpful for you to pledge your support now, even with the caveat of not giving till a future date, so that we can know how much more we need to raise. Any support that comes in before we leave goes to the one time amount we need to raise, and it much appreciated as well, but even the pledge for future support would be a big boon for us.
*6* And since I’m being specific about money, let me be specific about what those plans are as well. MTW requires all of their missionaries to undergo a certain amount of training before they reach the field. The most significant part of this training is in cross-cultural ministry, and this takes place in Brooklyn, NY over the entire month of July, or in Belgium over the entire month of January. It’s our hope to be in language school either before or at least by next January, so we need to do our training in Brooklyn this summer. (Also, there’s no childcare in Belgium, and I’m going to need Avonlea to be a couple of years older before I’m comfortable leaving her in charge of her brother while we live in a foreign country.) In order to be able to attend the July training, we need to be at or near 80% by April 15th, the deadline for registration.