Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Counting the Cost, Part One

"Why are you raising your support?"
"Why is your budget so large?"
"Where does all that support go?"

These are questions we're asked frequently as we're crisscrossing the country. There are no simple answers - each one could have a multi-layered response. Here, in a series we're titling "Counting the Cost", we'll do our best to help you understand why we must raise our support & where it all goes during the course of a year.

Q: Why are you raising your support?

A: We are called to serve in international Christian schools. Some schools pay a salary; some offer partial stipends and/or housing allowances; some provide nothing at all. When we were praying over where it was God might want us to serve, it was tempting to look only at the schools which paid full salaries. Sure, we could have picked a place which offered at least a housing allowance, but that wasn't where we were being called to go. The Lord didn't lead us to serve in a large school where all benefits were provided. He asked us to serve a small school in the Czech Republic, which can't afford to offer us any financial support at this time.

Q: With which organization are you going?

A: We serve through Resourcing Christian Education (RCE) International. This is the same organization which helped us to serve in Russia. RCE's sole purpose is to see teachers sent to international Christian schools as quickly & efficiently as possible. Please visit the RCE website to learn more about our sending organization.

Q: What is your support for?

A: EVERYTHING. Although our salary, insurance, and ministry expenses are managed by RCE, we must raise 100% of the funds which will cover these costs. It's similar to being self-employed - not only must we raise the actual amount of support for our monthly living expenses, we must also raise enough money to cover all of the taxes (both employee & employer portions), the insurance premiums, and the 8% service fee.

Q: What does RCE provide for you?

A: RCE processes all of our donations, keeps records of all of our donors, issues tax-deductible receipts for every gift, mails a newsletter with every receipt, sends out reminders to any donors who may have lapsed, and supervises every deposit & debit made to our ministry account. They also provide us with a W2 every year, which helps tremendously in filing income tax returns.
Through RCE, we are able to purchase our medical insurance, which offers excellent international coverage as well as emergency evacuation insurance.

Q: Why not go with (insert name of nationally-known mission organization here)? Then you wouldn't have to raise so much! 

A: That's both true and false. While there are some mission agencies that would not require us to raise our own support, they have high demands in other areas, and they would require us to spend more time in training for a ministry with which we are already very familiar. Yes, there are some agencies that do provide insurance or cover employer taxes, but they also have a much higher service fee (12-14%) and their minimum monthly support goals are often higher. One of the things we've experienced during our time overseas is that teachers fall outside of the traditional missionary paradigm. Perhaps we'll address that in a separate post.

Q: How do you know what sort of a budget to set?

A: Our budget was made based on the recommendations of others already serving in Prague, on estimates given to us by other families serving in Eastern Europe, and on statistics we researched online. While $5500 per month does seem to be very high compared to the cost of living in Niceville, FL or Jefferson City, MO, it's actually on the average to lower side for where we will eventually be. Less than two-thirds of this comes to us as a "personal" salary. We will live as conservatively as possible.

Raising financial support is a challenging part of accepting the call to serve overseas. Yes, there are days we wish we didn't have to ask so often for so much - it's humbling, to say the least. God has called us to serve internationally, and we're choosing to be obedient to the direction He's taking us, even when it's difficult and uncomfortable. We've seen Him provide in amazing ways in the past; we know He is able to do so again.

1 comment:

  1. It's different working through all the needs that could and dooccur on the mission field. The Lord has created the help that is needed for each situation He has placed us in. All we can do...is as the beautiful song "Trust And Obey" sugests. Blessings...Sally