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A (Mostly) Humorous Look at Fund Raising for England

Dear [insert your name here],

This September, I will be going to Birmingham, England to begin with CMF Globalscope (a missions organization) to start a campus ministry at the University of Birmingham campus.

Currently, I am in the midst of the "blessed" journey of support-raising.

Before I go any further, let me address the elephant in the room . . . "You're going to England?" Upon hearing that this was my missions field, one person muttered under his breath, "Oh yeah that's quite a sacrifice." Well, you may not think England is a typical country for missionaries, but what if you learn that 96% of the country and 99% of the university age culture is unchurched?

By the way, I told him that I'll build a dung hut in Birmingham to stay in if he'll support me. He didn't take me up on the offer.

So, I will be a missionary in England, which is still about as foreign a concept for me as college algebra.

If following God's call to another country to begin a daunting task isn't hard enough, someone invented the idea of support-raising to "affirm that call of the Lord."

You know what would really affirm the call of the Lord, if someone gave me every bit of my money I needed and I said, "Oh don't worry about keeping me up to date on how things are going. Just spend all of your time doing ministry. I'll assume that if you are willing to give up a good paying job as a computer engineer to travel away from friends and family for four years, then my money is probably going to the right place."

Support-raising is one of the most interesting and testing times in your life. For instance, I started playing Georgia's Megaball lottery. Currently, I'm $26.00 down, but I confident I'm gonna hit it big in the future. On the bright side, it has helped my prayer life, especially between 11 p.m. and 11:28 p.m. on Saturday night (the drawing is at 11:30 p.m.).

And I'm also looking pretty hard at Publishers Clearing House. I went to www.pch.com and learned that if I registered I would have 10 chances to win ten million dollars. I would sign up right away but am feeling guilty 'cause I don't need all ten million, just an amount quite less than that and besides - all that money would mess up my income tax bracket.

I've learned that support raising is all about CONTACTS CONTACTS CONTACTS!!! You need to develop your mailing list so you can send everyone a letter. Next thing you know I'm asking Mom and Dad for the Christmas letter mailing list (and see their face when they realize that you are going to solicit their entire rolodex of people for support), flipping through the phone book writing down names and address' of people that "sound kinda familiar." In support raising culture, that means they're pretty good friends. Forget face-to-face conflict resolution, support raising is THE best way of reconciling differences that you have with old friends. Suddenly, old enemies become "great support prospects." It's funny because it's true. (This doesn't apply to my friends, it's just what I've heard on the circuit)

You also come up with some interesting theories. For example ... I was convinced for a while that the devil secretly steals from those metal tithe bowls at churches so that missionaries can't just be given the money to go to the missions field. They need to become like Noah and wander out into the wilderness for 40 years in search of support so that you can actually become a missionary. (It was Noah, right?)

You know what? If all churches used paper bags from grocery stores as the tithe bowls, missionaries wouldn't have to raise support. They would have all the money in the world. What a waste.

As you can see, you become a little skeptical of everything. Like, "He has the nerve to support me at $50.00 per month and buy a brand new Mercedes convertible. That guy needs his priorities rearranged." When you did deeper, he bought it (for a funny reason)

You also come up with the most outrageous plans for coming up with the rest of your needed support. Like, if I can get everyone in this church service to give me $145.23 and that guy sells his firstborn son, I would be done support raising. That calculation would be done after you add up how many people are at church and of course you know exactly how much money you need to raise (and apparently the going rate for a child on the black market).

In my case, I have raised 32.54%. Why do I need to know that? I DON'T.

I was talking online with one of my supporters online today. He asked me how much money I needed to raise to go over to England. Let me get sidetracked real quick, I'm committed to being in England for four years. With CMF Globalscope, the missionaries raise 100% of their personal and ministry budget. Approximately 50% goes to personal and then the rest goes to ministry. Okay now I'm back. So I was talking with him today and he asked me how much I needed to raise. I told him, "Well, total it's $250,000 for four years." He said, "Yeah, that exchange rate kills you doesn't it." I had no response to such a demoralizing comment. So I waited awkwardly until he said something I could respond to. He says, "I have an idea. Why don't just raise it in Canadian dollars and save everyone some money?" I started thinking that wasn't a half bad idea. (Support raising can make you a little delusional sometimes) After he told me that isn't the way things work, I told him he is obligated to support me above what he's given because of the emotional rollercoaster that he put me on.

All that being said, I've learned a lot from support-raising. I've really learned to be patient and trust God even when I am discouraged. I've been humbled in ways that is completely countercultural. My relationship with God is getting stronger and stronger and will be amazing by the time I get to England. It's hard to say, but I've been blessed through this process and am thankful for this experience. I know it will make me more grateful of the ministry opportunities that God will provide me in England.

... but I still wouldn't mind it if someone gave me the rest of the support I need.

Thanks for being a blessing in my life and for the support that you're about to give me to go to England.

~ Robert Braden