Who would ever choose the support raising life?
Traveling on the weekends. Sleeping in other people's houses. Regularly wrecking your toddler's sleep schedule. Eating McDonald's on the road. Quitting your full-time job with a guaranteed paycheck. Sometimes having the joy of talking to people you know, but most of the time being vulnerable with complete strangers. Asking people to open up their wallets and commit to giving you some of it. Trying to convince people that your mission is worth the sacrificing of their resources. Sometimes having five meetings a day.
Who would sign up for this?
Nine months into raising support full-time in order for my family to be missionaries in the Czech Republic, and I can tell you, I would!
Here’s why I can honestly say that.
At the beginning of this journey, we were rookies. Our presentation wasn't polished. We didn't have prayer cards to distribute. We didn't have retractable banners to put on display. But we were confident of this one thing; that God is leading us to be missionaries in the Czech Republic and support raising was the avenue in which we were going to accomplish this.
So off to the races we went.
The Lord began to open many doors for support raising conversations. We have spoken in front of big churches and small churches. We have presented our vision to Sunday School classes and community groups that meet in people's homes. We have met couples at Starbucks and shared our hearts openly over cups of overpriced coffee. We have met with over 100 individuals, sometimes going to them and sometimes hosting in our home.
The Lord Jesus has taught me many things during this process, but I am most thankful for one thing. I am thankful for a changed heart. My old heart was fearful and wasn't excited to begin this journey.
But, by his grace, I can now truly say with a pure conscience that I have grown to love support raising - and I want to share with you three reason why I've come to love this season of our lives.
My Three Reasons
1. We get to remind people of the Great Commission.
Most of us are passionately pursuing our careers or taking care of our kids, and we rarely ever think about unreached peoples around the world. We wake up, eat breakfast, read our Bibles, and get ready for the day. We will fulfill our duties for the day, whether they are at the workplace or at home. Most of us will be spending the day checking our phones non-stop, some of us will be changing dirty diapers, some will be selling a product, some will be waiting tables, etc. And when the day comes to an end, Hulu gets turned on, brains get turned off, and we eat dinner on our couch.
Let's be honest, how often do we think about the Bumthangpa people in Bhutan who are 0.0% Evangelical Christian? Or the Lampung Pubian people in Indonesia who are 0.02% Evangelical Christian? Unreached people groups are not usually on our mind. In this journey, I consistently get the privilege to remind people to not forget about those around the world who are unreached! I can't list how many times I have spoken with people who have never heard of the concept of "unreached peoples." It is so important to remember those who are unreached because it will remind us to pray for God to send laborers into the harvest. (If you want to pray for the unreached peoples every day then download the Joshua Project app and it will notify you each day.)
2. We get to connect people to the Great Commission
We have met so many people during this season of support raising who struggle with believing they can advance the gospel to unreached people groups. They become intimidated by the 6,000+ people groups who are unreached (less than 2% of the population is Evangelical Christian). They think, "Can I even make a dent in that number?"
Many Americans feel it is God's will for them to stay in America. They get a degree, a job, a family, a home, and a good church. Their church may do short-term trips a couple times a year, they may take up a special missions offering, but they have never met a missionary. The idea of international missions may not be foreign to them, but the idea that they can be a part of completing the Great Commission is. It has been a joy to talk with people and see them get excited about being a part of God's global mission to reach the lost in the Czech Republic. I have seen people's hearts light up with a zeal to reach the Czech. Not only do these people begin to give their resources, but many supporters of ours now have a heart to pray for the Czech, and some desire to go there one day!
I am learning that what Jesus said about our finances is true, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:21) People have not just felt connected to us, but with God's mission to reach the unreached.
3. I get to witness people respond to the Great Commission
The Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) cannot be accomplished without goers and senders. Goers must be willing to sacrifice in the area of familiarity, language, culture, and other things. Senders must be willing to sacrifice in the area of resources and that may also affect other areas as well. As we have spoken with people about being obedient to go it has been incredible to see people become obedient to send. When both the goer and the sender are obedient, the Great Commission can be fulfilled.
My wife and I have been shocked at times when we see the amount of money people are willing to give for the sake of Christ. We have seen people obey in ways that we never expected. People who have multiple kids in college are sacrificing. People who can't afford to go out to eat and are studying in college are sacrificing. People who have saved retirement their whole life are now sacrificing it for missions.
We thanked one of our partners for supporting us, and he immediately responded with, "All glory to God. This is the Lord's money. Don't think of this money as from me, it is from Christ." Living on the support of other people within the church body has caused my faith in Jesus to increase and my love for God to grow. Many people have never given to any missionary before and once they heard our vision to reach the unreached, they felt led by God to be obedient and send us.
To be a recipient of their obedience has increased my faith.
So, yes, I would choose this life of "Support Raising." Because it has been a privilege to remind, connect, and witness the people within Christ's church respond to the Great Commission.
Josh Ehlers, M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary