By Shona, an OMF worker in East Asia
When God called our family into missions we were in a cycle of debt we couldn’t get out of. A godly retired missionary inspired us with her stories of God’s provision as she trusted him to provide over decades without asking anyone for money.
She taught us the principles of a life of faith, making our needs known to God in prayer and trusting him to move peoples’ hearts to give. She also taught us that in our giving, we should not “tip” the Lord with what we had leftover but that we should give him the “first portion.”
Committing it to the Lord
We committed our finances to the Lord and asked him to teach us to live by faith. Within three months we were out of debt. We began to sense God’s call into missions and we applied to Bible college. We wrote to all our Christian friends to tell them of God’s call on our lives and our application to Bible college. We asked if they would be willing to pray for us and receive our prayer letters.
When we started Bible college we had one term’s fees in the bank. We trusted that God would provide for our living costs and further fees. Our faith and trust in God’s provision grew as we saw him provide month by month, one time by an anonymous building society check. It came at a time when our fees were overdue and we had no money to buy food. The check covered all our costs plus £400 (US$530) extra. The following week we had a tax bill for almost £400.
In Asia we continued to see God’s provision year by year, although a good proportion came through the general fund that supplies OMF workers who are under-supported. When policy changed and required us to increase our personal support level to 80 percent of our yearly budget, we cried out to the Lord to supply our additional financial needs.
Three weeks later, my husband was meeting with the director of a foundation that supported a project we were running. Our friend offered to cover the costs for another year. My husband thanked him for the foundation’s generosity, but refused the gift, as the costs had already been covered by a church. “No one has ever refused the offer of a gift before,” he said. “Do you have any needs for your family support?” My husband explained our situation. Our friend pledged support to us from the foundation, which raised our personal support level above the required 80 percent.
Engaging with supporters
Keeping prayer partners and churches at home interested in their work over the years is a challenge for all missionaries. Some supporters inevitably will lose interest over time. However, sending regular prayer letters with up-to-date news and prayer requests, introducing individual peoples’ stories, and sharing how prayers have been answered is key to maintaining interest.
Our prayer partners have gotten to know a number of the people we work with, praying through the ups and downs of their lives. They have anguished with us over the ones who’ve fallen away and rejoiced with us over new believers and the ones who have come back after falling away.
On home assignment we visit churches, prayer groups and prayer partners to share about the work and the people they have prayed for and to cast a vision for the future. Enthusiasm is contagious. If we are enthusiastic and our hearts are committed to God’s call then when we share our call and speak about the work, the listeners’ hearts will be stirred to be involved too.
When we visit a church or prayer group, we are bold in asking for prayer and for anyone interested in a short-term trip or a call to missions. We are happy to challenge people to listen to what God may be saying to them about missions, but we don’t ask for money. If anyone asks us directly about finances, we are happy to respond honestly and share our needs, but ultimately, God is our provider and he has never let us down.
Will you pray for those on the journey to long-term missions?
- Give thanks for God’s faithfulness to this missionary family in providing for their needs.
- Pray for those who feel God leading them to long-term missions, but feel they wouldn’t be able to raise enough prayer and financial support. Pray for them to be able to trust God to provide for their needs as they go in obedience to him.
- Ask God to raise up an encouraging, prayerful community for each person who is planning to go overseas long-term.
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