We’ve been raising support for about 13 months now. Some missionaries get it done quicker than we do, some take longer. But I’m pretty sure any support-raising missionary would have the same opinion: It’s not necessarily fun. But it’s good. And there’s a difference.
We’ve received a lot of mixed responses over the past year as we’ve met with people, presented to churches, and attempted to get people excited about what we’re doing and willing to jump on board with a monthly pledge. But there’s one thing we seem to hear pretty often. They see how tired we are, how crazy our travel schedule has been, and how much we have to raise, and say, “It’s a shame you have to raise your own money.”
I can see what they mean… there are certainly downsides to it. If we didn’t have to raise our own money and our expenses were just paid out of some big general missions fund by our agency or our denomination, we could have been on the field 13 months ago. I would know Spanish by now. I would have a year’s worth of foreign mission ministry under my belt. I would have been able sell my stuff and hit the road without all this other craziness thrown in. I would have alot more energy than I have right now.
But there’s a lot more that we wouldn’t have. We wouldn’t have a huge group of families from all over who have committed to praying for us regularly. We wouldn’t have had the chance to sit in people’s homes and tell them all about what God is doing in Latin America. We wouldn’t have churches reminding their congregations to regularly pray for the Bonhams and Kines. We wouldn’t have people volunteering to send us care packages, inviting us to stay in their homes, and asking how they can make this transitioning stage easier. We wouldn’t have prayer warriors from all around the country who see their financial gift drafted monthly out of their bank accounts and are reminded to pray for the ministry their money is funding.
Yes, it would be nice to have all of our monthly expenses magically covered by a big missions fund. But it’s even nicer to have someone say to you, “I believe in what you’re doing. I support the decision your family has made. I want to literally invest my hard-earned money into the calling you’re so passionate about because I believe that God is building his kingdom through the spread of the Gospel.”
I look at our list of supporters and realize what they are. Supporters. They support us. Financially. Prayerfully. Emotionally. It’s a powerful thing.
Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I’m sick of sitting in my minivan. Yes, it’s hard work raising enough money to support us and our ministry. But we’re not just raising support. We’re raising supporters. We’re raising prayer warriors. We’re raising gospel partners. In a few weeks, I’ll leave for Colombia knowing I have a crowd of people back home supporting us.
So no, it’s not a shame. It’s a blessing.