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Sunday, 20 June 2010

2012 seems a long way off...

Do you have things planned for 2012 already?

Planning for 2012 is the reason that I fly to Tallinn, Estonia on Monday 21, June.  Estonia is one of the Baltic Countries. It is above Latvia which is above Lithuania. Estonia is also just a short boat ride across from Finland.

Tallinn, Estonia is where we will be having our Agape Europe all staff conference in July of 2012. I have the role of program director for this conference.

 My heart is that the staff leave the time knowing that their time and money were well spent. So I pray that the program will contain key elements that help them connect with God, connect with others, and be united in a vision for what God is doing and will do in Europe!

So... tomorrow morning I get on a plane and fly to Estonia to begin planning for 2012. Seems like a long way off.. but it will be here more quickly than we think!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

the challenges of a single female raising support

So, I find that there are some pretty big challenges to being a single female raising support. Feeling alone in the process is just one of them.  

A dear friend shared some insights from a book this past week. She told me of a book that a man wrote in which he spends a chapter each on the unique challenges that various different groups face when they are called to find financial support to do the work that God has called them to do. 

Later that day I was given a copy of the book by another dear friend. And today I read a lot of it. The things I read about in regards to being a single female missionary

1. There is a bias amongst most American evangelicals against single female missionaries.
I feel this... especially when I pursue churches to partner with me. In general, churches seem to give first priority to couples when is comes to a missionary to partner with. And as much as my home church would not do this intentionally, I know I am not the only single female to feel that prioritization. I do not doubt that I am loved, but I do feel that I am often passed over as a viable missionary simply because I am single and female. 

This hurts me because I have no doubt that God has called me and that He has already used me in HUGE ways in Europe and that He will continue to use me in Europe. I get to do things as a single that I will not have the freedom to do when I am married with children. 

2. Single female missionaries get smaller financial pledges. 
I read that this has been shown to be true as well as the fact that we receive more one-time gifts than monthly pledges. I am not sure why this is true. I can surmise that people just don't think single females will be on the field very long. I have never heard that from anyone. But I do experience the results.

3. Single females face unique challenges in one-on-one meeting with potential ministry partners.
NO KIDDING! I don't have a husband to meet with any single man who might partner with me in this ministry. I know that God is with me every step of the way... but that does not keep me and other friends of mine from awkward situations.  The author suggestions that it might be good to take a friend along with me when I meet with people. That would be wonderful for so many reasons!  Any one wanna go with me? 

So, I share this with you so that you will know more how to pray for me. I get drained emotionally as I try to reach people by phone or email and as I try to meet with people. The American culture trains us to fill up our schedules so that there is not room to make a new friend nor time to hear how we can partner with a missionary. 

BUT GOD... I love that phrase.. because it changes everything!  But God is the great provider. But God reminds me that I am not alone and that He is with me. So even when I begin to be discouraged at the realities I face... I realize that God's view is more real than my view.

Monday, 7 June 2010

my age group

I heard something the other day that has stuck in my mind... I heard that it is not common for people my age and younger to give to missions. The person who told me this, asked if I support missionaries. When I said that I did, the person attributed my giving to the fact that I am a missionary and I understand the need.

This makes me wonder... is it true that people my age and younger don't feel a need or call to support missionaries? And if so... why is that?

Are you willing to walk through my thoughts on this here?

Is it because we don't think that the small amount we could give is worth it?
Is it because we value our freedom to go out to dinner whenever we want?
Is it because we don't understand the need to send missionaries or to have missionaries?

Anyone who has been or is relying on the financial support of others to do their work understands that every little and big amount makes a difference.

The people who give 5 dollars a month allow me to get a new pair of socks when my get holes in them. 
That is just as important as those who would give 1400 dollars a month which would cover my rent! 

In scripture we are called to give according to what we have been given.

Do we value our freedom to choose what we want, when we want it more than we value the gospel spreading to the whole world? When did our priorities get messed up? I think about this all the time actually. If I want to support the missionaries that I support, it means that sometimes I cannot buy that sweater I want right now. Sometimes it means that I need to have my friends over for dinner and we all contribute to the meal instead of us all going out and spending double or triple the money on a meal. What am I choosing to make a higher priority in my spending? 

I remember that when I was in my early twenties it was talked about a lot that it makes more sense to support a national in their country to be share the gospel with their nation. I wonder if that still sits with my age group as we think about the value of sending missionaries. It costs more to send me to Rome than to support a national in Rome. But how will we find nationals if we don't go share first? It is because the Christians went to Rome in the first place that Romans came to know Christ as their Lord and began to share the message themselves! 

I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I know that one of my greatest joys is investing my prayer and my finances in specific places in the world to see the gospel spread all over the world... so I don't understand why anyone else would not want to be part of what God is doing in the world.