Friendly Letters, Emails, Videos, for Fund-raising

Friendly Letters - for fundraising

There is great value in fund-raising by writing friendly letters and emails. Do you write interesting letters or emails to your supporters?

Let’s look at Paul’s letter to the believers at Rome.

“But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to visit you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.” (Romans 15:23-29 NIV)

Paul, the first travelling missionary, in the early church, had a way of thinking ahead when it came to fund-raising. He was heading to Jerusalem with some financial gifts from other small churches meant to help out the Jewish believers there who were experiencing food shortages.

However, he took time to write a friendly letter, full of doctrinal teaching, to the church at Rome, and confided that he hoped to visit them when he made his next missionary trip to Spain. He told them about his present trip to Jerusalem with funds given by the churches in Macedonia and Archaia. Then he suggested that they also put such a gift together to help out the Jews, from whom all the Gentiles had received the blessing of the gospel.

We know from reading Acts and the subsequent friendly letters of Paul in the New Testament, that he did get to Rome, but not quite as he had planned. He was not on the way to Spain, but brought in chains to appeal the charges made against him in Jerusalem to Caesar himself. All this took several years!

What can we learn here about fund-raising for our ministries with friendly letters, or for believers in need?

I think much can be accomplished with written communications, such as friendly letters and emails. Not everyone can naturally express themselves clearly in a written format, much less persuade others to cheerfully part with their money and make a generous gift.

(In fact, if you ever look into copywriting, you will find that those rare individuals who can write an effective sales letter, which persuades the reader to buy or donate – such writers can command very high fees for their services! I’m talking in the range of $50,000 or more for 20 minutes of work, writing just one or two pages of text!)

So then, is it impossible for a missionary or ministry leader to write effective friendly letters, to raise their support, or to get funds for a specific project?

No. I don’t think you need to hire a costly copywriter. If you pray earnestly, asking God to help you, and you write sincerely, sharing from your heart, about the work you are doing, and the needs as you see them, and if you write your letters or emails often enough so that people who care can feel that they understand what is going on in your world and what God is doing through you, then it is up to the Holy Spirit to persuade them to give generously. Our role is just to provide enough information for the Holy Spirit to work with.

It might be helpful if you can get one or more persons back home, or where you are reporting to, who will write back and dialogue with you. That way you can find out if your letters are clear enough. If your correspondent asks questions that indicate he or she did not understand all you wrote, you need to write again to the whole group or church, and make it more plain.

Today, we have so many other options. If you can’t express yourself well in written format, or you can’t spell worth three beans, how about learning to create videos? Or talking with people via Skype or such online programs? It is almost as good as being there in person!

Hmm… maybe we’ll have to prepare some lessons in this some time on this blog.

Hospitality – a Gift to Give Fellow Believers

Have you ever considered your hospitality a gift to give fellow believers? The Bible does!

Hospitality - a gift to give fellow believers

The Apostle John wrote a short letter (3 John) to his friend Gaius, who had a family or house church, probably with some Christian friends taking part too. Some Christian brothers who had passed by that way had enjoyed good hospitality in Gaius’ home with their church fellowship. John commended them for this fine service to the travelling servants of God. especially since the unbelievers had not shown them any kindness at all.

If you never travel, you may not grasp the great blessing of meeting strangers who – as soon as they discover that you are also a believer in Christ, treat you like a beloved family member, and take you home.

There you are both a welcome family member and a royal guest. Amenities and food are offered to you, and a place to sleep. But better than that, they want to know what is going on in your life, how you met Christ, and what you are doing to serve Him. If they discover that you lack something, they are quick to offer you something of their own provisions so that you will not be hindered in your work for the Lord.

Such hospitable people will also praise you, rave about your experiences and spiritual gifts. Generally, they just lather love on you, and make you feel special and fulfilled. Again, if you ever travel among strangers, and have experienced such a welcome, you will know how refreshing it is. Strangers do not usually do this.

Sometimes we are happy to enjoy good hospitality from others, but it doesn’t occur to us that we could offer the same gift to others. Take time now to give it some thought.

Is your home and family a warm and welcoming place for each of you who lives there? Even if it s small and imperfect and lacks amenities that you wish you had, it is better than nothing, or an expensive room in an inn or motel to a traveler. What would make the difference is your attitude toward the guest. They are most thirsty for warm human fellowship.

As for food, just share from your meager fare. You don’t have to go into debt to buy foods you would not normally afford for yourself or your family. If all you have is bread and water, Break off some to share, and let love and delight in the Lord be your main course. And I have only one bed. (I can offer a guest mine, but then I have to sleep on a mat on the floor, and I have trouble getting up off the floor).

I’ve often felt like, what could I offer? I live alone in a tiny house, one that still needs a lot of repairs or renovation, but which I can only afford in gradual increments. I eat frugally, but do have the basic staples.

But then I looked around at my circle of friends and contacts, and I realized that there were several single woman who were shy and retiring and who did not easily get invited out for a Sunday lunch as our more prosperous friends did. Maybe they would not mind my hospitality if I invited them over, and just shared one of my homemade meals. This has happened a few times now, and at least two of such friends have latched onto me, and look to me to be their mentor-friend.

Sometimes, for the sake of convenience, I’ve invited myself over to their place after church, but have brought along food for lunch, because I knew it was a strain for especially the handicapped friend, to provide a meal for two of us. That has gone over quite well too. This proves that even I can offer hospitality – on a smaller scale.

I realized over this last Christmas season, that if I invited all the singles I know that don’t get invited into other homes, I would have at least half a dozen people in my house. The problem is, I would not have enough chairs for all to sit down. The solution then seems to be, to just invite them over one or two at a time. Now, I just need to rearrange my busy work schedule so that I can have all those mini-parties with my intended guests. I may yet develop a strong ministry of hospitality after all.

Incidentally, if you can afford to help fellow believers in ministry who may be travelling in other parts of the world, you can always send them a quick gift of money through World Remit LTD. It has the option of sending money directly to their cell phone, and they can pick up the cash at an agency in nearly any marketplace. WorldRemit is quicker and cheaper than Western Union or MoneyGram.

Set Money Aside Weekly in Church

You are wise to set money aside weekly in church.

set money aside weekly in church

Today’s Bible passage is still from 1 Corinthians, as was last week’s, but now we are in the last chapter. Paul is winding up his letter with final comments and greetings. In the first five verses, Paul is giving them a specific plan to set aside money weekly in church toward the needs of the saints in Jerusalem.

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-5)

Paul has suggested this plan already in chapters 8 and 9, as we saw last time, so they could become generous givers in the name of our Lord. But now he gives them practical steps so that there will be no fuss or begging to collect money at that time. Simply the delivery details to be worked out.

To set money aside weekly in church is really is an excellent plan. It teaches believers to become regular givers.

We all tend to forget if we don’t make it a habit.

We also need to consult with our own spirit, and a spouse, if married, to determine how much we can give cheerfully. God loves a cheerful, willing giver. The amount is up to you. Whatever portion you might give grudging… is not a gift in God’s eyes.

Your Surprise Reward

Wait! Let me give you clue to a great surprise. When you start giving regularly you will experience something wonderful. An emotion that is very pleasurable – just a small token from the Lord of the larger rewards He will present to you in Heaven!

Even if someone else does your bookkeeping for you, set aside a certain time each week – before Sunday – to check and see how much new income you gained through the week. Decide whether you are going to give a certain amount, or perhaps a percentage of your income, and prepare that in a small envelop to take to church on Sunday and put in the offering. (Some churches provide offering envelopes for you).

If your paycheck only comes every two weeks, then you’ll want to set aside time bi-weekly to assess how much you can set aside as a church offering – but in your heart, giving it to the Lord.

If your salary is deposited into your account just once a month, and it is always the same, you may have the easiest time of all once you’ve decided how much to give to the Lord each month.

All right, if you live from hand to mouth…you may end up giving more sporadically. In fact, you may need some of those gifts that others are setting aside to give to the Lord. And you have a better chance of being given some of those gifts if you become a part of a living, and godly Christian church.

When the church elders or administrative officers see how much comes in regularly they are able to budget for basic needs for operating the church, and also for missions and benevolent giving.

MY Personal Experience

When I first became a working girl after high school I was only interested in giving to missions. I felt that others could support the church, but my money should go to spreading the gospel. Later on I learned that supporting the church is also God’s will. Instead of dividing my offering, I doubled it, so that I could do both. God has blessed that and just given me a desire to give much more… whenever He blesses me with more than my basic living budget. That is happening more often now!

Planned and Cheerful Giving as Believers and Congregations

Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians are two of my most favourite chapters in the whole Bible. They are all about giving generously, gladly. They are about thinking of our planned and cheerful giving as ‘sowing spiritual seed’ which will bear much spiritual harvest.

that there might be equality

Paul held up the Macedonian church as an example, for though they were very poor, they had a great desire to help the needy Christians in Jerusalem, and had given themselves and then, also sacrificially from their meager resources.

He encouraged the Corinthian believers to follow their example and start setting aside and bringing in what they could on the first of the week. Week by week that could grow so that when Titus arrived, whom Paul sent to the Corinthians, they would have a generous combined gift to send along with him to the needy believers in Jerusalem.

Setting Aside Weekly

Not all Christians understand the value of this idea of setting aside small, manageable amounts week by week. When they are added up, they turn out to be a sizable gift.

When I was caring for my parents I had no regular income. I lived by faith in God. I remember a week when I only earned $5.00 from an elderly lady in our town who called to ask me to help wash her hair and put rollers in her hair. Going home I thought, a tithe of $5.00 is only .50; what a pathetic amount to give the Lord in church the next morning.

However, I put that .50 in an empty baking soda can which was wrapped in shiny paper. After a few weeks of adding to it, I saw that now I had a gift that was able to accomplish more.

To this day I like to do my bookkeeping on Friday nights, so that I know what came in and what I paid out, recording the amounts in my record keeping system, and setting aside my tithes and offerings. Accounting is not my forte, but I can manage it on this scale. This way I can be a giver out of small meager incomes, and grow with it so that I can be entrusted by God with larger amounts in my stewardship.

My hope is that when the Lord entrusts me with much larger incomes and giving amounts, He will also provide a trustworthy bookkeeper!

So what about your giving as a believer and as a church congregation? Do have a plan for how much to set aside regularly?

Even before that, do you have a willingness to give and share with others in need? Those in need of physical food, and also those who need spiritual food – the gospel – which leads to eternal life?

God has given us so much, and according to 2 Corinthians 8:10, we can count on Him to supply even the resources we need to sow for a larger spiritual harvest, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

I heartily recommend that you study 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. If you have any desire to be generous to others, these chapters will encourage you and teach you some valuable principles.

How this helps Missionaries Raise Funds

This series of articles was intended to help those who are struggling to raise funds. It may seem that I’ve just been addressing individuals and congregations about giving on a regular basis. But an obvious corollary of this for those in missions and ministries that seek faithful supporters, is that you need to be connected to one or more strong Christian churches, where the members understand these principles of giving and building up support funds.

However, “out of sight, out of mind,” right? So keep in touch with them even while you are away at your place of ministry. Send letters and emails and photos so that they get a sense of what God is doing through you, where you work, and they will want to become a part of that. When you return to visit them, the believers in those churches will welcome you as a dear friend, whom they know and love and trust, and your support funds will come in generously as planned and cheerful giving!

Live Productive Lives

How is fund-raising affected by people who live productive lives?

Titus 3:4 “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.”

The Apostle Paul gave this counsel to Titus a young pastor he had put in charge of a small group of new converts. The advice he gave was simple, teach the people to devote themselves to doing what is good – why? – in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives. (Or instead of a double negative we could say that they should live productive lives.

live productive lives

I grew up in a family, community and culture where children were taught to be useful and productive in the daily necessities of the house and farm. I learned to do dishes, scrub floors, babysit young siblings and hack weeds in the garden with a hoe from early on. I cannot even remember the first time I did such things. I didn’t realize that I was trained to live a productive life.

My mother was sickly, especially after gored by a cow, so I, as the eldest child had responsibility thrust on me before I was fully ready and willing. The family still had to be fed and the laundry washed and ironed; I confess I didn’t always do these things gladly, but I was often told, “You are too big to put in the china cabinet, so make yourself useful.”

When I finally moved away to a far place and found a new Christian/church community, I was surprised to discover that other families did not teach their children all these practical skills. In childrens ministry and among adults I found many who had never had to do a stitch of work at home. They had grown up being served or allowed to do as they pleased. it was then that I truly began to appreciate my upbringing.

I tried to do my part in teaching pre-teen girls the value of work and to cheerfully live productive lives, but it wasn’t as effective as when it is taught in the home from preschool days.

I see the wisdom of Paul’s advice to Titus, but just now my mind is stuck on the problem a pastor would have in teaching a whole congregation to provide for their own and their family’s daily necessities, and to live productive lives.

The very connected next step is – that if they live productive lives they will not only provide for those immediately with and around them, but also have enough to share with others in desperate need.

I happen to know that among those raised as I was in our industrious, hard-working community, many – yes, MANY, have grown up to prosper quite well, and those who have a strong daily walk with Christ are heavy supporters of missions.

In Waldheim about 40 minutes drive from my home town, every summer for about 60 years, the churches go together to have a missions conference. Missionaries who have grown up in that area are given a platform to share about their work abroad, and that 3 day conference raises anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 (and often more each succeeding year), to contribute to their projects. Nowadays most of the people who attend are retired Christian farmers. Some worry about what will happen if the next generation doesn’t have the same work ethic.

Guest speakers who come from other parts of the world are astonished at this. It is very uncommon to see both missionaries and supporters live productive lives.

Back to our theme for this series of articles; how could this principle, “Live Productive Lives”, help a church or ministry raise support for their work?

Here are my suggestions:

1. Learn to model this lifestyle yourself. if you don’t have such upbringing, walk with the Lord, and ask Him to teach you where you can be more productive in little ways. As others around you see you doing this, some will imitate you, and some will be willing to learn, if you teach them what you’ve discovered.

2. When you are looking for people to work in your ministry, search especially for those who have the humility to do the little things that make life smoother and more productive for everyone. They are the people who tidy up around themselves, who do dishes or other little chores without being coaxed, and very often they have creative minds for how to do ministry more effectively too.

3. Research and study up on ways to live more practical and productive lives. Then use every opportunity to teach and share this with others. Over time you will teach the willing ones to take up these ways and your ministry will be blessed with provisions and growth.

4. When campaigning for financial support, seek out the godly people who live humble, productive lives. They will not go for flashy, show-off presentations, but if you focus on God’s call to your work, and can report His activities in your ministry. That is going to appeal to these hard-working people who understand the value of a dollar, and who like to help the Lord out when they find He is at work somewhere.

Ask Your Personal Friends

Do you ask your personal friends for financial help?

The apostle Paul had an unusual situation, but the way he handled it can give us some insights for getting support for our own ministries today.

Paul had led Philemon and his family to faith in Christ on one of his stops in his missionary journeys. Philemon was a well-to-do man with a large household, including slaves and servants. One of his slaves ran away to Rome, where Paul was waiting a long time in prison for his case to be concluded. Onesimus, the slave, must have admired Paul when he preached in his master’s house. So he sought Paul out.

Paul counseled and led this young man to faith in Christ too, and Onesimus quickly became very useful to Paul. But Paul was not about to take advantage of his friend, so he persuaded the runaway to go back and take his personal letter to Philemon with him.

It is this short letter that gives us so many details of the story. Paul greets his friend Philemon heartily and praises God for how he has blessed himself and many other believers and Christian workers with his hospitality and encouragement.

Now he asks Philemon to show that same kind of hospitality and encouragement to Onesimus, whom he is sending back, a changed young man. Paul asks Philemon to treat Onesimus just as he would if Paul himself showed up at the door.

Paul explained that Onesimus was now a very useful slave, but he didn’t want to just claim and use him without Philemon’s consent, as that would just not be right. Based on their own close partnership as friends, Paul asks Philemon to treat this slave as a Christian brother – or, as if he were Paul himself.

Despite being in prison, Paul has hopes of being able to travel again, and asks his good friend to prepare a guest room for when he will be able to visit again personally. See, you can ask your personal friends for favours.

We do not know what Philemon’s response was, or if they ever got see each other again this side of Heaven, but judging from the tone and Paul’s message in the letter, we can assume with some certainty, that Paul’s requests were granted.

You may be thinking that you can’t ask your personal friends, as you have none as rich as Philemon, or you might try writing them a letter too.

Pause to think — it would be just like God to place people like Philemon into your circle of acquaintances, but have you taken time to develop a friendship with them? Do you make a point of keeping in touch with the friends you have so that it can grow to the point where you can write and ask favours and know your letters will be well-received?

I have been learning over the last couple of years that these days, on the internet, is a new marketing philosophy. In fact, it has probably always existed, but now it has a name, Attraction Marketing, and there are a number of flourishing methods being taught and passed on to others online in relation to this. Many testimonials are coming forth so that it is a common expression now, “People don’t do business with strangers; they buy from those they have learned to know, like and trust.”So building up relationships through social media and sharing valuable information, etc., is the way to do business.

There is a transferable principle in that. Your best supporters in your ministry will be those who have learned to know, like and trust you. So it behoves those of us in ministries to show ourselves friendly, to work at building relationships of trust and respect. It is among these contacts that God will raise up “friends” willing to support our works for the Lord.

Yes, make time to keep in touch with the friends you have, and any others that come your way. Develop a mailing list and write to these friends as personalized and frequently as you can, to let them know what God is doing in your life, and how you are serving Him. Not all of them will become ardent supporters, but some will become close enough so that you can freely ask your personal friends for support.

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Appeal Letters and Visit Your Supporters

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.

Trust God for Utterly Everything

Have you ever tried to trust God for utterly everything for yourself or your ministry? You might well tell me that you fall to that as a last resort, whenever you and find no other method of putting food on the table.

That sounds like crying out whenever you feel like you are drowning. I wonder if God has decided to let you get to that nth degree enough times so that gradually, you may learn that You can trust Him to provide even your daily meat and bread.

For about two years, in the early 1980s, I resisted God’s gentle call to go home to care for my parents in their old age – partly because I resisted the idea that I would have to depend on God for all my personal and daily needs. My parents could not, and would not pay me. I would be able to eat at their table, provided for by their meager old age security checks, and there was a spare bedroom in the basement, but any other need that might come up, I would have to ask and trust God to provide. I didn’t think I could muster that much faith – not to trust God for utterly everything!

Eventually though, the Lord won me around to making that commitment.

Our Bible example today, in this series on how to fund your ministry, comes from Exodus 15:13-17 and it ends in Joshua 5:12. God had brought His people, the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and into the desert. Now all their food in their knapsacks was gone. The sand dunes didn’t have volunteer gardens or orchards that they could raid. True to human nature, the Israelites panicked and grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

God gave Moses His plan for providing for the people, and asked him to explain it to them. He would rain down bread in the mornings, but they would have to gather it, and at twilight they would have meat – enough to get sick of it.

Six days a week, God provided for them on this daily basis. (They called that dew-like bread, Manna, meaning, “what’s this?”) On the sixth day they were to collect extra for the Sabbath, so they would be able to rest that day and not have to gather their daily food. The first evening they got a flock of quail dropping from the skies, and they had a fowl supper – until they were throwing up! (I don’t see that God bothered them with quail after that).

They did this for some 40 years. They learned to trust God for utterly everything.

But when they came into the promised land, they were done with that dry, barren period in their lives, and just like that these miraculous provisions halted. The Israelites now had to hunt and gather their daily food in the land they were claiming for their own.

Like myself in the early 1980s, many Christians squirm and try to avoid getting into a situation where they will have to trust God for their daily food. Which basically mean, all their needs. Yes, trust God for utterly everything. Period. If we have not had any living examples in our lives of people who trusted God like that, we just cannot imagine that an invisible God will be so faithful to us.

I’m afraid I grumbled considerably too, in the beginning, though I tried to be very noble and spiritual about my great sacrifice of my life of ministry in the far province. More and more I had to give things up; I’d reach the place where I could pray, “Okay, Lord, I won’t die if I don’t have this, or that, on a regular basis. I could get by with very little.

Food was not a problem as my parents had always had a garden. As Mom got weaker, I spent more time working in the garden, and I got to plan what vegetables to grow. As I took charge of the kitchen, I was the one who did most of the grocery shopping for all three of us (though Dad always liked to come along and push the cart). With time, like Joseph in Potiphar’s house, I managed everything for my parents, and they had nothing to worry about.

Clothes were not a problem for me either, after God convicted me that I should be grateful and use up what I had before I needed a whole new wardrobe. Then I got a penal, a godly older woman with a taste for fine-quality clothing, and she would send me a parcel from time to time with suits and dress shoes and things I would never have thought I could afford. Mom bought a new coat for me out of her Old Age Security money. Other pen pals sent gifts of money from time to time. In fact, I realized after a while that those money gifts usually arrived just about the time I needed something.

I became more relaxed about trusting God. He seemed to have better taste and timing than I’d ever realized before. Mostly He was concerned about my attitude. The more I worked on that, the better were the practical gifts He sent me. What’s more, my faith and delight in the Lord increased proportionately too! it became quite comfortable to trust God for utterly everything.

So now, when I get emails from ministry leaders who are in a panic because they are out of money I sometimes marvel at their lack of faith in God to provide.

One man from Tanzania wrote that his people regularly prayed for healing and even raised people from the dead. Yet, when his church needed funds, he would appeal to me in a panic. Do some fund-raising for us!

My thinking would go like this; I don’t have the faith to raise anyone from the dead, but if you can do that, why not just trust God to provide your financial needs too? That would come much easier to me!

Do financial problems plague you, or your ministry? Why not make a decision to trust God for utterly everything, and then cooperate with Him as He allows you to come into situations where you must practice that faith in Him. Over time your faith will increase, so that it not nearly so hard to trust the Father to provide all your needs.

When you have learned to have such faith, God may graduate you to other lessons, and the provisions will come easily. (I don’t know, perhaps He will teach you to raise the dead after that. I haven’t got to that point yet).

Does Your Ministry Group Support You?

if you are in Christian ministry, does your ministry group support you?

Ah… you are not sure you have a ministry group? Those are the people that know and agree with your vision. They may follow you around, or travel with you, such as your family and friends. Or, they may stay at home, but be praying hard for you while you are away on a ministry trip. When you come home they want to hear all the details of what you experienced.

When these people see you have a practical need, they are the most likely to offer you help. They give you food and money – when they have it. They encourage you by rejoicing with your successes, and praying all the harder, when you have difficulties.

Jesus and His disciples were supported by just such a group, mostly women. (Luke 8:1-3) They were part of their entourage much of the time, and provided food and clothing, also their homes for hospitality. Some of the women, like Mary Magdalene, had been healed by Jesus, and they followed out of sheer gratitude, doing what they could to help the ministry of Jesus and the disciples.

These women did not have to be told, nor begged to help. They saw needs, and they stepped in just like any efficient mother, aunt, or friend would do – and to the extent of their capacity.

You may have such a ministry group, but you have your eyes peeled for the big donors or patron saints. People who will just hand you bags of money at regular intervals, and let you do as you please.

Maybe… just maybe you need to learn to appreciate and encourage that closer, intimate support group. They may not have as much money as the big sponsors in the Western countries, but these people close by may care a whole lot more, and have a mind to give and help you. If that group needs to be larger, maybe you need to share with your listeners and followers what your vision is for your ministry. What burden do you have from the Lord, to advance and increase your ministry work.

If this ministry group knows you better and your vision, God may just inspire them to work harder to support you and meet those needs, so you can do the work God has called you to do.

Ministry group

In Galatians 6:6, Paul gave counsel for supporting those that taught you. “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.”

I know that some itinerants ministers who go to preach the gospel in communities where there is no established church hesitate to ask those people for any support. Until you have spiritual fruit – that is, people who have accepted the gospel and decided to follow Jesus, it is better not to suggest they should support you, beyond the advice Jesus gave His disciples when they went out to preach the gospel; they were to accept hospitality from a worthy home.

However, once you have established some believers, it is good to teach them to do what they can to support those who have brought the gospel to them, and those who continue to teach them.

There seems to be two extremes; those who like to travel and teach and selfishly fleece their listeners for funds, and those who hesitate to mention any practical needs, out of a desire not to be a burden on others. Yet their travel and ministry suffers for lack of funds.

There should be a way to discourage the first type, and encourage the second to graciously teach their new converts the art of supporting those who bring them the good news and teach them God’s Word.

Perhaps that is a thought to develop another time. For now, let’s be aware that the Biblical example is for close family and friends and those blessed by your ministry to be your Ministry Group, and that you treat them like partners in the work. Also, for those who have been blessed with the life-transforming gospel to see their role in supporting those who ministered the teaching to them. Let’s encourage these more, and let God work an increase through them.

Hospitality for Itinerants in Ministry

hospitality for itinerants in ministry

Hospitality for itnerants in ministry is sometimes harder to find in some areas than in others. Many cultures are very open and ready to share whatever meager resources they have with strangers passing through their community. But this can change from one village to the next. Sometimes you have to ask outright for the hospitality of food and a night’s rest.

Nor are all hosts in such situations openly friendly and welcoming. It may well depend on how they feel about your purpose or message.

In Matthew chapter ten, Jesus sends His disciples to villages in Israel (Israelis only) with the message that “the kingdom of Heaven is near,” and as proof they were to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons.

One would think that should make them popular where ever they went. But Jesus gave them instructions for how to seek out hospitality for the night, and how to handle it if they were denied. Their focus was to be on their message; not to bring luggage and move in to stay.

There may be a lesson here for ministers of the gospel today. Take time to read verses 5 to 15 to get this story in perspective.

Jesus instructed them to come with one simple message, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near,” then heal the sick, deliver the demon-possessed and raise the dead. The grateful people would be likely to invite them into their homes. The disciples were to choose one, and give it their peace – or blessing.

Now, if that home was not really friendly and hospitable to them, the disciples were to leave it, shake the dust off their feet and take back their peace, or blessing. I understand this to mean, leave that problem behind; don’t brood over it and get angry.

What is your experience with hospitality for itinerants in ministry? Have you had a situation where the hospitality turned sour and you had to leave in a hurry? Does that still grate on your spirit?

You need to shake it off and leave that behind you. It can hinder your ministry and make you afraid of accepting hospitality in any strange home.

Our series is on fund-raising in the Bible. Is there a lesson here for those who give hospitality?

One thing I see is that if we invite a traveling ministry person we are very likely to be blessed. (If the guest follows Jesus’ instructions). I have found this to be true, and I’ve heard many others say the same thing. We don’t have to wait until we have a fine house and plenty of food. Share what you have, and God will see that you have enough on hand, and whatever you give will come back to you in the days to come.

If you have received such giving, you will find it easier to offer it. Truly, you can’t lose if you offer hospitality to itinerants in ministry.