When my wife and I were tasked with raising support for the mission field, it was suggested to us that we focus primarily on individuals and not the masses. This was a different concept for us, as it wasn’t what we were used to seeing in missionary approaches. We knew we needed to focus on both churches and individuals in the process, but we decided to follow the advice we were given to make the bulk of our attention to individuals. We had no idea how much spiritual growth we would experience from this.
Like everything, creating a support team for the mission field should be done for our good and God’s glory. It should cause us to grow in Christlikeness. As Kimberly and I have gone from person to person,taking them through our vision, sharing our hearts and entering into their lives, we’ve discovered how face-to-face interactions have benefitted us in ways that general church presentations could not. The process became something we have learned from and not just endured. We’ve left the interchanges with all involved being edified because of it, with some folks approaching us months later to express the spiritual blessing they received from it. Most importantly, we have seen the Holy Spirit move in the lives of everyone involved in ways we are still amazed at.
Here are some examples of what I mean. Through focusing primarily on meeting with individuals, we have:
- Answered questions that would likely go unasked in a group setting;
- Learned about the suffering, trials, counseling needs and joys of others, and witnessed examples of holy living that can help us be much more pastoral in the field;
- Disarmed prejudices and cleared up misunderstandings;
- Inspired others to change the way they are living to be missional and sacrificial (friends have gone back to work after retirement, young men have changed their view on their career, friends have put their houses for sale to scale down, etc);
- Strengthened one another to press on in the Christian race;
- Been enabled to enjoy the love and encouragement of the saints that can keep us going for a long time;
- Found missions to be a great “Uniter”, beyond denominational and even theological lines;
- Seen people enter into missions with a personal mindset instead of just corporate, which is the spirit of what we are called todo;
- Been humbled to sacrifice our comfort and subdue our natural resistances;
- Clarified and crystallized our calling, and helped us to focus on the real goals of what we intend to do in the fieldthrough having to explain it to others;
- Had resources, expertise, creative ideas and advice provided to us from the people we meet with that would have remainedunknown to us;
- Enabled us to embrace giving up the material possessions and comfort, including our pride oftentimes, for the sake of the calling;
- Strengthened our resolve (The Lord has given me a job to do, and the first part of it is to create a team and get my family to the field, and I will do it no matter what anyone thinks of my asking for support);
- Exposed children to the experience of seeing a different life that the Lord can call someone to – they themselves develop a heart for missions. Those families will never forget the day that missionaries came to their home to talk to them;
- Encouraged others to visit us and other missionaries;
- Entered into the lives of the family personally;
- Ensured that we don’t just become a picture posted on a fridge or in an obscure hallway of the church building;
- Seen the creation of missions focused teams within churches;
- Disarmed the fear of every missionary - the fear of being forgotten.
The bottom line is, the goal of fundraising for missions isn’t just to get through it so we can get on with the real work of missions. It is part of the real work, and an ongoing ministry throughout our
lives. It is a calling to minister in the lives of people in ways we would never have imagined. It’s not a duty to be fulfilled, and it’s not a contrived mindset of “this is fun” to be forced through clenched teeth. It’s so much more.
The benefit, and hence the goal of support raising for us? Spiritual growth. Because we have seen support raising to be a means of grace.
The Baldwin Family