We can learn from the Apostle Paul to write appeal letters and visit your supporters. We can study at least three of Paul's appeal letters in Romans 15:24-33, I Corinthians 16:6, and II Corinthians 1:16.
It is well-known that this is something most missionaries and people in ministry most dread and do not like to do. For one it feels humiliating to have to write appeal letters and visit your supporters. Some mission organizations work hard at preparing their new missionaries how to do this, pointing often to Paul in the New Testament. Paul seemed to have no qualms about writing friends and people he had taught to receive and follow the Lord before. He promised to come visit them and openly suggested that he would be expecting their financial help to send him further along on his missionary journeys.:
Therein lies the key to fundraising for our ministries. In fact, we can spot several keys;
1. Paul wrote to people who had good reason to respect and love him. He had shared the gospel with them, and they had received it and experienced God's forgiveness and transforming power. In a sense they owed Paul some loving assistance.If we appeal to fellow Christians, particularly ones we have blessed and helped in the past, we should have a clear conscience about asking their help.
2. We need to keep in mind WHY we are asking for support. This is not for our own selfish indulgence, but for our ministry for the Lord. This is a tried and true way for God to meet our needs for the assignments He gives us.
3. Notice that Paul wrote them and promised a visit. Something they would likely look forward to, and would warm their hearts. His request for help to continue his journeys gave them time to prepare their financial gifts. This a good reason for us to write appeal letters and send them to our Christians friends and supporters. it alerts them to the need to think and pray about how they can support us.
In our present Christian culture, particularly in the Western world, we have some rules and regulations for missionary sending ministries. This is to ensure that individuals do not pretend to be real missionaries, but use this means of tricking people into supporting them but for selfish reasons.
Third world countries do not seem to have the same laws and rules in place, so many who begin a ministry with just themselves, or their family involved, like to send appeal letters too, or mass email campaigns, to beg for support. This does not always go over well with Christians in Western countries - especially, if they fear being scammed. This is probably a discussion for another article or series.
Personally, I think if they set high moral and financial standards for themselves, and go about it in ethical ways, it may well work for them too. But the onus seems to be much stronger to show themselves honorable and godly in how they ask for financial support, and how they report on their use of such funds.
On the other hand, maybe we as potential supporters, need to learn some skills in discernment when we get these appeal letters, or emails, and perhaps we need to make visits to these ministries to discover the facts, and get a clearer sense of whether God would have us support them.
Personally, I have been in email correspondence with a number of such indigenous ministry leaders for some years, and getting to know them. But I still dream of going to visit them in person, so I can see for myself, how they run their ministry, how they serve the Lord, and what their true needs are. I suspect there are not all financial. Sometimes they may need better administration, or training, or resources. I feel that when I've been able to make such visits to a number of them, I will be in a better position to write helpful counsel and guidance for them in how to write appeal letters and ask for support - wisely, effectively.
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