This is an entry that I have wanted to write for some time, but haven’t (and still don’t entirely) had the words to accurately describe what I have been thinking the last few months.
If you know me and are reading this, chances are you have heard by now that I have been accepted to be a missionary in France for the summer, as I have been quite the walking advertisement for it. This is something I am incredibly excited about, and know it will be an amazing learning experience spiritually. One thing that has come along with this task has been the requirement to fund raise the trip cost. Including airfare, this comes to a total of $3600.
At the beginning, and still sometimes for that matter, this seems like a daunting and maybe-not-possible task. I continue to pray that God would show me the right way to go about doing this task, as one of the things I hate the most is asking people for money, regardless of the cause or purpose.
Shortly after I began sending out letters, I attended an online webinar that Pioneers was putting on about raising support for trip costs. One of the hosts was a fellow missionary who, for one of his trips, had to raise a great deal of money. He wound up raising 40,000 dollars in 40 days. This seemed nearly impossible to me, and I was eager to learn his methods. I think subtly I kept thinking that there must have been some website that he used where he posted his support letter and random do-gooders would contribute. How else would he have done it?! Well, that was not the case.
His specific methods are not important in this blog entry, but the thing that stuck with me the most was when he talked about how doubt creeps into our mind as a distraction to take our focus away from God. He then proceeded to list a few of the thoughts that came through his mind. It was astounding to me how nearly every single one was something I had thought about, or was a fear that I had. I can only remember a few, but just to give an example, some were:
-What if I offend people by asking for money, or harm my relationship with them in some way?
-This amount I have to raise is so large. There is a good chance I am going to fall short.
-(Before even committing) Wow, THAT’S how much it costs? Maybe I shouldn’t even pursue this opportunity…
-I haven’t been in touch with these people for awhile. Should I still send them a letter, or would it be weird?
-Should I send this to non-Christians?
The focus in the webinar was about how when we let thoughts like these consume our minds and limit us, we are essentially not giving God the trust He deserves to work and provide in our lives. What it got me thinking about was how often I have these types of thoughts in other areas of my life, not just financial. How often have I second guessed myself about whether I was capable of doing something, whether I could handle it, or just plain if it was worth all of the effort to get to the end result.
What I have learned from many experiences, and most recently through this process, is that God knows what He is doing. Doesn’t this sound so obvious? It’s like…”Well of course He does…He knows everything.” So why is this still so difficult to comprehend? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that it is something I constantly have to remind myself: that He is in control.
In the case of my mission trip, I am fundraising and going overseas to serve. I need to trust that God will provide for my needs during this time in order to make this happen so that I can further spread the joy of His kingdom. I made the decision to accept this at the beginning of the mission process, and slowly, several things have been made clearer.
Some of the largest donations I have received so far have been from people who I was not originally going to contact. This was out of fear that they would be put out by the fact that I was contacting or even “bothering them” when we did not know each other very well. There have been several instances of people making extremely generous offers to fund a great deal of my trip towards the end of my collection period, if need be. Their offers have about brought me to tears, and while I won’t get into specific details, their hearts have been astounding to me. People who I have not necessarily expected to be supportive have sent me emails or messages offering support, encouragement and prayer, which has done more than I can say to lift my spirits.
To be honest, from the beginning I expected for my work in ministry to begin more once I boarded the plane, but I have been proven wrong. I never expected that asking for support would potentially have just as great of an impact. God is telling me constantly, every day, to trust in Him and continue to move forward. To ask more people for prayer and, if they feel led, contributions. Pray constantly. Have a good attitude. Show gratitude and give thanks for what has been given to me. And above all just trust that it is all going to work out. One of my biggest prayers for my own spiritual growth is that this experience will allow me to trust in God’s plan in all areas of my life, not just this particular project this summer, at which point I will begin to revert to my ways of needing to second guess myself and feel like everything is up to me to take care of. The way I tend to think of it is like a baby trying to open a ketchup packet. They can try for a long time and become increasingly frustrated, even cry and scream over not being able to accomplish it. Maybe they eventually will even be able to do it, but it takes a long time, and a great deal of effort and unnecessary frustration. Meanwhile, a loving parent is looking on. Now, they know that they can easily open the ketchup packet in all of a second if the baby will just calm down and hand it to them. But when they hold on so tightly, it can be difficult to get them to concede to this willingly. So the parent patiently waits until the child relents and lets them handle it.
I am not saying this is a perfect analogy, but this is the comparison I make (or one of them, I should say). I don’t want to be that stubborn, prideful child who wants to do everything their own way just for the sake of having control. I want to be able to willfully and lovingly surrender while trusting that everything will work out just fine, and probably a lot better than if I, someone with 23 years of experience, had tried to do it all on my own, versus the completely all-knowing and all-powerful God who loves us all so much that He was willing to have His son die so that we wouldn’t have to worry about trying to work to reach heaven.
If you are, by any chance, interested in contributing in prayer and/or financial support to my project, I am pasting my support letter below. Once again, certainly don’t want to put pressure on anyone, but even the smallest prayer would be greatly appreciated. Have a wonderful day!!
Dear Family and Friends,
Currently as I sit here composing this letter, spring is beginning in Chapel Hill. I am nearing the end of my time as a nanny, and will soon be making the transition to graduate school to pursue my Masters in Social Work. It is something that I am very excited for, however there is one other opportunity between these two wonderful life stages that is approaching.
Recently, I was accepted to be a missionary through an agency called Pioneers in Nice, France from June 2nd – July 11th this summer. I will be responsible for a myriad of duties, such as leading Vacation Bible School with local children, helping in church planting efforts, and tutoring English.
This is something I have prayed about for a considerable amount of time, and feel that God is calling me to go so that others can hear the gospel. Nice is a beautiful city on the coast of France full of culture and diversity, and happens to be very heavily populated with immigrants from Northern Africa. This inherently means that a large percentage of the city’s population is Muslim, and has not necessarily been exposed to the good news of Christ. My goals this summer are to lovingly and compassionately share this message to as many people as possible, as well as grow in my own faith so that upon my return to the United States I can become more bold and knowledgeable in the word of God.
First of all, I would request that if you are willing, you would extend your prayers and thoughts with me during this time. I want to make the most of the experience and the biggest impact possible that is in God’s plan for me, so any prayers of encouragement would be greatly appreciated. I also ask that you pray for the city our team is working in, and that they will be open-minded and receptive to the work we are all doing to make Nice a more joyful place.
Secondly, if you feel led to do so, I would very humbly appreciate any donations you may be willing to make towards my fundraising efforts. Before the beginning of June I must raise $3600, which will cover all of my expenses while I am there, including airfare, food and housing.
To do this, you may do one of two things. You can go online towww.pioneers.org/give and use my name and account number, which is 175611. You may also send in a check made payable to Pioneers with my account number in the memo line to:
10123 William Carey Drive
Orlando, FL 32832
All donations are tax-deductible, and will show up on my fund-raising website. If you have any questions or concerns, I would be more than happy to answer them! Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I truly cannot express my gratitude for your help through prayer and financial contributions.
My sincere thanks and appreciation,