I posted a position some time ago for an Assistant Coordinator for Discipling Marketplace Leaders. It's an exciting ministry and an interesting position, involving travel to various countries, as well as within North America. The only catch is that the person has to raise all of their own support. I received some quick and very interesting resumes and CVs, from people much more qualified than me, as well as people who had shown serious commitment to their faith by the looks of their work experience. However, when we narrowed the candidates to the top three, and confirmed that the candidates understood that this was a position that required fund-raising, two quickly withdrew and the third has not responded yet.
I have to admit that my heart fell. I don't blame them. I really don't. The work that we do is crazy enough, going into places that many consider unsafe, working in challenging conditions, working to shift paradigms and move toward long-term sustainable changes. To add having to raise all the funds for yourself, your family, your health care, your retirement, as well as all ministry costs, seems too much to ask, even for the strongest of Christians.
I recently read this article which resonated with me strongly, especially as I continue to be quite weary with asking of late. Especially these lines: Others must get tired of our petitions, because we get tired of asking. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. It makes us feel like a needy child instead of a responsible adult. We feel like the persistent toddler asking for a glass of juice—we keep asking until the glass gets filled. And before you know it, we have another empty glass to fill.
I know that I have withdrawn from interacting with many people because of this issue. This article was a good reminder for me that when I grow weary, I limit God's work and His reach.
“Do you think I can ask someone to take Jack to the airport?”
A ride to the airport is usually no imposition because everything is close in Abilene, Texas. But a ride to the international airport is another story, because it means nearly 3 hours to the DFW airport. That’s about a 6 hour round trip.
And Jack, he’s a dog. It’s one thing to ask someone to bring your family to Dallas, but to ask someone to bring your dog to Dallas on a separate day, is that asking too much?
That’s what Tia was wondering when we recently took an early morning walk before the summer sun made it too unbearable. Her family was making plans for their approaching move to Costa Rica and they’ve been asking for a lot lately.
She’s not the only missionary who wonders if she’s asking for too much. If it’s not a ride to the airport then it’s something else.
When our family lived in Venezuela it felt like we were asking all the time:
Would my brother drive us to the New Orleans airport at 3:30 in the morning? Can someone lend us car seats for the twins while we’re visiting the states? Can we stay with you–all six of us!–while Gary takes a class? Could Mom send us some chocolate chips? Does anyone have a car—a big one– we can use for 2 months? Will someone hand deliver a notarized copy to the consulate? Will you do a campaign with us? Will you send us some interns? Will you reconsider our salary—the exchange rate changed? Will you contribute to our travel fund? Dad had a heart attack, can I travel home? Will you help the church buy some property?Others must get tired of our petitions, because we get tired of asking. It’s embarrassing. It’s humbling. It makes us feel like a needy child instead of a responsible adult. We feel like the persistent toddler asking for a glass of juice—we keep asking until the glass gets filled. And before you know it, we have another empty glass to fill.
But missionaries ask.
Just because we do it, it doesn’t mean we enjoy it. It’s easier for some than others, but most of us dread it to some degree. But whether we like it or not, we keep asking.
It’s part of our job description. We ask because…
- this job we’ve chosen is way bigger than us. So we ask you to join us. Join us in prayer, in dreaming, in completing the mission.
- working overseas strips us of the usual framework that allows us to be independent. So we ask you to support us.
- we commit to a mission without available resources to complete it. So we ask you to contribute.
- our kids love chocolate chip cookies, so we ask you to treat us–this one pushes the limit, but my mom was great to let us ask for those extras.
When it comes to kingdom work, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us that we feel more like a child than an adult. Jesus talked about it when he said,
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:3-5So if you are a missionary, and feeling a little too much like a child lately, it may be a good thing.
- Humble yourself.
- Keep asking.
- Welcome him or her tenderly.
- Surprise them. Ask them first how you can join them before they ask you.
- Do some asking for them–when you know their needs, ask your circle of friends if they will join the missionary in some way. Maybe you can’t help, but you know someone else who can.
To God be the glory, great things He has done - and will continue to do!