We've been working on an honest-to-goodness, ink-on-paper support letter this week. We've stuffed 150 envelopes so far, and we have about 70 more to do. I've been reflecting on how different it is this time from years past...peel-n-stick advancements in stationary...sending out this letter as a couple...needing to raise more than five times the amount I did when I left for Russia in 2002...
The first batch went out on Wednesday; we're dropping another stack in the mail today. As each envelope disappears down the blue throat of the mail box, I'm praying that those who receive our letters will respond favorably - through prayer, through financial support, or through sharing this information with their churches.
As it often happens, we did some random calculations, such as "if every person gave a minimum of $10, that bring our total support almost up to 80%..." or "If there were 50 people who could pledge $50 a month, we'd be closer to 90%!" It's encouraging and frustrating all at the same time. Encouraging, because we believe we will see an increase in our support levels; frustrating, because it tempts us to think only on dollar signs.
I've thought about the many fellow missionaries I've met who, upon entering this season known as "deputation", "itinerating" or "support raising", have been counseled to make a list of every person they can think of, and then write a dollar amount next to that person's name. I've never done this. Why? What benefit is there in trying to guestimate who will support you at which dollar amount? Why should that matter? My experience has been that people who choose to support missionaries do so out of the fullness of their hearts, not the fullness of their wallets.
The people whose names are on our mailing list are people we greatly admire, appreciate or love deeply. They are individuals & families who have known us since we were children. They are people who served with us in ministry. They are are our friends, our mentors, our counselors, our voices of wisdom. They represent multitudes of encouraging words & prayers prayed for us. Those people who are on the receiving end of our support letters are people who've made an impact on our lives. If they are able to be a part of our financial support team, that's wonderful, but we need them as our prayer partners first & foremost.
Regardless of how many mailings, e-mails, blog posts, or speaking engagements, at the end of the day, God alone is capable of supplying for all of our needs. How or who He chooses to use to accomplish this will only be a blessing on top of a blessing.