Friday, September 16, 2011

Funding Our Ministry

We have officially been fundraising for five weeks now and boy is it an adventure! This time has been both challenging and rewarding for both of us. Our first obstacle was our personal views on what it means to fundraise. Here we were, picturing ourselves as sleazy TV evangelists, begging for money. So, what does fundraising really look like? Fundraising is not begging for money and it is not a worldly charity. It is about relationship building and vertical giving. A wonderful Bible study that we did is “Funding Your Ministry” by Scott Morton who uses the example of Luke 8:2 -3 to show how Jesus was supported in His ministry by “Mary, who was called Magdalene…and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.” Jesus did not work an outside job other than His ministry. It is very humbling to be dependent on others but at the same time, we must realize that God provides the money through the relationships we build.
Our next obstacle we had to tackle was our energy level. We started this process with what I can describe as an “energetic high.” This did not last very long! Just this past Monday, we had six appointments! We left the house at 8 AM and did not get home until 11 PM! I don’t know about you but I have personally never worked such a long day! No, we did not do manual labor for that time, but we went to one appointment after another, had a luncheon followed by a meeting, and ended the day with an interview and a dinner. Talking is very exhausting! Our “energy high” plummeted like an airplane after a vulture flies into your jet engine. Needless to say, Kevin and I have learned the meaning of taking a day off, which we are happy to do…tomorrow…
On the rewarding side, we have received support in so many unique ways:
-          Attorney services (will, living will, power of attorney, etc.)
-          Website set up and maintenance
-          Rosetta Stone (in French)
-          A trip to Dollywood
-          House/dog sitter services
-          Home remodeling services (volunteers are still being accepted)  
-          Radio spot
-          5K fundraiser in our name
-          Meals
-          A place to stay when away from home
-          Books (Bible studies, Congolese history, self-helps, etc.)
-          Things we need when we leave the country (i.e. water filter, etc.)

One of our most treasured supports has come from the Knoxville Christian School. Our minister’s wife is a teacher there. Each class is assigned with taking on a service project and their yearly goal is to fund them both financially and prayerfully. I don’t know about you, but having the heart of a child pray for your ministry is so powerful!  Well, the 4th & 5th grade classes took us on as their project! They will be doing bake sales, making handmade cards, and keeping a loose change bucket. Having these children doing something like this for us is humbling. It reminds me of the story of the widow’s mite. It might not appear that these children are giving a lot of money, but they are giving all they can and from their heart.  I know that this means more to God than all the extravagant donations of a rich person, just as it means so much to us.

We are currently at 12% of our fundraising goal. We would like to be at 20% by the first of October. If you would like to sit down with us anytime, we would be happy to make the arrangements! Please contact us!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good and the Bad...

Job 2:10 "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

Most of us know the story of Job and how he was tested in his faith. In the beginning after he loses everything but his life and his wife, his wife tells him to give up and curse the name of God, to which he replies, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"

How easy life would be if God gave us everything that we wanted and we could sit back in our nice expensive recliners in an air-conditioned home and praise his name with little effort. But we all know that if we had everything we wanted we would only want more. How like us to complain when things do not go our way:

-my mom has health issues
-my dog broke her femur
-Mamaw Hale lost her eye in an accident
-my step-brother's girlfriend is pregnant while we have been trying hard
-we can only afford one car
-our income is less than what it once was

It is easy to forget that God gives us these things in life for a reason. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Job kept those fruits no matter what challenges were presented to him. If I stop and think of my woes in a positive manner, I have much to be grateful for:

-my mom has been diagnosed by doctors as to why she is in pain and they can now work towards a common goal to manage her pain
-my dog is still alive and kicking because she is a fighter
-Mamaw Hale's surgery was successful and will hopefully receive a prosthetic eye in a few weeks
-my step-brother's girlfriend is holding a new life in her
-God will grant us children we He sees fit
-we own a car and can pay for the insurance
-we have a stipend and can focus on funding our ministry full time

We have much to be grateful for in life as long as we remember to thank God for every blessing. Just because you see something as a woe in your life does not mean that it cannot be a blessing. It is easy to accept the good but can we accept the not so good in our lives? The best advice I can give is something I learned from my favorite movie "Evan Almighty":

"If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does He give him the opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you thinkg God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does He give them opportunities to love each other?"

Romans 5:3-5 says "we rejoice in our present sufferings, because we know that suffering brings perseverance; and perseverance brings character; and character brings hope; and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."