Friday, May 10, 2013

Support Springs from the Heart

Christiana's Corner: I've had a rough day, work wise.
That's not something I say very often these days - most of the time, I love my roles in staff care, development & recruitment. Yet every once in awhile, I have an unfortunate phone call that just leaves me feeling drained, wounded, and totally ineffective. Today I had to deal with an irate sponsor.

(Before I go any further, I just want to clarify that this was not one of OUR sponsors - this was a call I had to field on someone's behalf.)

I will not go into great detail, but the crux of the call was that the couple was unhappy with the direction in which the sponsored staff  was headed with service. Although they were asking me to give explanations & justifications, they didn't really want to hear them. It was irrelevant that this worker has the full backing & support of the agency. They had already made up their minds about what they were going to do:  they couldn't control the actions of their sponsored staff member, so they were just going to stop giving.

Sadly, this isn't the first time something like this has happened. Ordinarily I'd dust off the phone & go on, but today's encounter has continued to weigh heavily on my heart. (Perhaps it's the pregnancy hormones?) I ache not only for this particular individual who will lose this support, I'm hurting for the sponsors, who are so misguided & angry.

Since writing is the way I often reclaim my calm, I decided to channel today into something which might eventually be of use to someone, rather than allow it to continue to eat at me. Here, in no particular order, are some things I'd like to ask all supporters of missionaries- no matter who you are or who you support- to please hold in mind:

  • You have been *asked* to give. Asked is the key word - you are never obligated to support anyone, even if we're relatives. We love you anyway.
  • The size of your gift is secondary to the sincerity with which you give it. Those of us who've been on the field for many, many years know that the $5 per month donations sent with love & heartfelt prayers are every bit as precious as the $100 checks.
  • Pray carefully about your decision to give before you fill out a commitment card. We will count every card toward our monthly/annual budget. If you're sending in a card just to be "nice", but have no intention of really giving those gifts, it's that much harder for us to stay on budget.
  • It's okay to change your mind!  We understand that circumstances can change, but please communicate these changes with us. 
  • Unless you've been called to the exact same culture/country/circumstance, please don't assume to know what we're going through. Please remember that every worker is unique, and that there's not always a "perfect" answer to the problem.
  • Choose to sponsor us because we're called by God for a purpose. Although it may be attractive to support a particular project or cause, remember that plans sometimes change, and not of our own decision. We might not get to build the bridge we intended; it won't stop us from working just as hard to dig a well somewhere else.
  • If you're concerned or confused about how we're doing, please connect with US! If you can't talk by phone, e-mail or send a letter. Don't call up the home office and demand a full report, because the person on the phone isn't the one on the field.
  • Please give out of love. If you're giving to try to gain control of something, you're giving for the wrong reason. 
  • Your support springs from your heart, not your wallet or your trust fund. If there's a day when you resent writing that support check, that's the day you should stop giving. 

My heart is still sore from the earlier event of today, but it's not nearly so heavy. Thank you for allowing me to share some of my thoughts here.

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