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Mission organizations vary on how their missionaries are supported financially. We work with New Tribes Mission (NTM). NTM is a faith-based mission and all of the members are self-supported. This means we are dependent on individual and church donations to meet our financial needs as career missionaries.
Depending on others for finances may seem like a daunting concept. We had a few years to adjust to this idea as we went through the NTM four-year training program before we left for Asia Pacific. This was one of many lessons that revealed to us our heart and where our dependence truly leaned. Was it in ourselves or was our dependence on the Lord?
I remember Mike referring to Matthew 6.25–34 often. He would remind me that if God’s Word was true and trustworthy, then we could confidently move forward in our faith of those verses. We weren’t ultimately dependent on man, we were looking forward in faith in God and His Word. “This is His work, and He wouldn’t ask us to do something and not provide us the means to do it,” Mike would remind me.
There are many ways that missionaries raise support. Like I mentioned, we went through a four-year training program with NTM. We had breaks in the training much like a university or college schedule, and we took those opportunities to share with churches about what we were learning and about our church planting and translation plans in Asia Pacific.
When we spoke at churches and in Sunday school classes, we explained that we would be responsible for meeting our financial needs for this venture. We didn’t ask for commitments or pledges. We don’t think there is anything wrong with doing that, it just wasn’t how we chose to do things. In hindsight I am thankful that was our choice because we trust that the Lord led each individual family to a place where they felt they wanted to invest in our ministry. So for us personally, we have no way to boast in ourselves but only in the Lord for how He has met our needs. The Lord used His people, His resources, His work and His servants.
We left for Asia Pacific with our financial needs taken care of, and we were so thankful for the many people who were giving financially to our missions account to see that we could continue on with our plan. Here we are some 16 years later, and most of those people have been faithful to give to our ministry month after month, year after year. It is so special to us because there is really a bond between our home church, our supporters, and our family. This small seed of a vision was planted, and because of our collective work and prayers we have all seen a church born and men and women who are praising their Creator in a completely different language!
Over the years, depending on the Lord has increased our faith. I think when God saved Mike, He gave him a head start on faith. I am often challenged by the way he views obstacles, challenges, and the future. So I guess I should say over the years that the Lord has increased my faith. I still think I am behind, but I am thankful Mike and the Lord are longsuffering and patient. : )
We have a lot of fun stories about how the Lord has provided for us. My favorite of all time was when we had several expected expenses that exceeded the amount for what we had planned. I remember the stress of wondering how this need was going to be met. We had talked about writing our supporters. However, before we could do that the Lord had already placed the need on my great aunt’s heart. Now this sweet lady has lived all her years in the high hills of North Carolina just a few minutes from the border of Tennessee. She never had children of her own, and so my father grew up being spoiled by her. We visited her often when we spent summer trips at my grandparents’ house. My dad never had to ask: there were always mason jars of pickled beans or tenderloin beef waiting for him to take home. I think butterscotch pie was his favorite pie she made. She is a sweet, giving lady. She had always been generous, but she had never given me money. Even though Mike and I were the only people that knew about this need, Aunt Louine sent us a check for $5,000. This met our need with some left over.
Isn’t that a beautiful story? This is just another testimony of how wonderful and intricate the plans of the Lord are. His word is true: when He says that He will never forsake us, He means it. When He says that there is no need for us to be anxious, He means it. What is even more amazing is that He uses the people in our lives, sometimes strangers, sometimes other believers, to fulfill His purposes, bless us, and encourage us.
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