By Emily Drayne
Organizations and missionaries face an uphill battle with regard to donations. When we see a photo of a half-clothed child, a disaster-torn house, or a village that lacks clean water, our natural reaction is to want to help. Sadly, there are many needs, and not every single one can be captured in a photograph.
Missionaries and their families need everyday support . . . so their children can get glasses . . . because the cost of living in their chosen part of the world is high . . . because they are starting a new ministry from scratch. These things are part of every missionary budget, but they don’t “sell” at the donor level. The missionary is, in one sense, “competing” for the same monies that go to fund projects.
I don’t say all of this to send you on a guilt trip. The American church loves to give to projects (such as feeding and educating children) and go on short-term mission trips (because participants come away with a sense of accomplishment). So how do we best respond?
Take a Leap of Faith
Technology and the Internet have made it easier than ever to see the impact of our mission gifts. But sometimes this “first-world” luxury can be a stumbling block. I’ve heard many people say it’s hard to give when you can’t see a direct result of your gift. I get it. As a mid-20s newlywed, I’ve hovered over the donate button wondering if I’m making the right decision. But it all boils down to faith . . . that God will bless your gift . . . that he will stretch the money you give and the smaller amount of money you keep for your own needs. Giving to missions and missionaries is a leap of faith.
I think the same principles apply to individuals and churches. I believe churches need to show the same faith with their giving to missions as do individuals and families. I like that my church tithes to missions from its total annual budget. I think that’s how it should be! Every church projects a budget for the year. The church bases all its numbers on that projection and trusts that the Lord will make it work. Once the budget is set, the church can distribute it to local and international missions.
Follow the Perfect Example
Several times recently I’ve heard it said, “It’s God’s economy, not ours.” In other words, even when the numbers don’t work on paper, God can make it work. I needed to hear that.
Jesus modeled this principle throughout his life. In Matthew 14, the crowds were so enthralled with Jesus and his message that they followed him to “a remote place” without even thinking of what they would eat there. Later in that same chapter, the disciples tried to get Jesus to send the crowds away to buy food for themselves. Jesus told the disciples, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat” (v. 16). I can picture Jesus telling that to his disciples. They probably looked down at the basket, then back at Jesus, and then back at the basket. (That’s exactly what I would have done.)
You know how the story ends. John recorded 5,000 men were there (which doesn’t include other family members; there may have been more than 8,000 people there). But Jesus and the disciples fed them all. “When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (John 6:12, 13).
Faith is believing that God will stretch the budget, whether you are a newlywed couple, family, church, or a mission. Honor God with your finances and your lives and he will take care of you better than you could dream possible. I encourage you to give to your local church, to projects when God tugs at your heart, to international missions, and more. Give even if you’re not sure. Give and let God take that gift and run with it. For he can run much faster and longer than we can!
Emily Drayne lives in North Carolina and has served with the International Conference on Missions since 2011.