Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Counting the Cost, Part Two

Here's another set of Q&As about raising support. To read the first installment, click here. (Yes, these are all real questions which we've been asked as we've been traveling around the country.)

Q: You're spending so much time traveling - why is that necessary?

A: We wanted to connect with as many churches, small groups and individual sponsors as possible to share with them first-hand about the ministry to which we've been called. We've found the expression "out of sight, out of mind" can be all too true. It's important to remain in contact with everyone who is a part of our support network.

Q: Will you have to do this type of support raising every year?

A: Truthfully, we hope not. While we love having the opportunity to reconnect with family & friends, it is physically and mentally exhausting to keep up that sort of pace every summer. Plus, it takes us out of the very country we feel called to serve! This is one of the reasons that we have sought continued monthly support - you can read more about that here.

Q: Your budget is more than twice what it was when you lived in Moscow. How do you justify that?

A: To understand the difference in our support needs, you first need to recognize the change in our circumstances:
  • When we lived in Moscow, we were both single. We shared flats with 2 or more people (Phil's place housed 5 during his last year), which meant that we weren't shouldering the full responsibilities of rent, furnishings, utilities, or bloc fees.  We're now married - all of these payments will come out of one support account.
  • When we were both single, we gave very little thought to things such as life insurance or emergency funds. However, we're expecting a child - we have to consider the needs of a family.
  • This budget is about the same amount of what we would need if we were going back to Moscow. The difference is, when we lived in Moscow, we received stipends from the school at which we taught. These stipends covered 30-40% of our total monthly costs, so we didn't have to raise the full cost of living. The school in Prague cannot afford to offer us ANY financial support at this time. We're now responsible for 100% of our funding.
  • It's been almost two years since we last lived overseas. Our budget is larger because the general cost of living has increased.

Q: MY family lives on less than half of what you've set as a budget - why should you need more than the average family?

A: Please keep in mind that A) we must not only cover our basic costs of living, but all of our employment taxes, premiums and service fees, and B) we're moving to a metropolitan city, which costs more than if we were living in a rural town.
As for the total amount, our budget is based on recommendations from colleagues in Prague and our own research for international costs for a family of 3. These estimates include housing, food, clothing, visas, transportation, and the like. These are our best estimates, broken down by percentage:
  • 28% has been budgeted for rent, utilities & bloc fees
  • 34% will go toward food, clothing, bus fare, language study, tithes & everything else for a family of 3.
  • 21% will go toward taxes & service fees
  • 17% goes toward health & life insurance (NOTE: This does not include the $1000 annual deductible for which we are also responsible.)
Financial matters are a sensitive area for any family, and this is true for us as well. We are willing to share these details with you because we believe this is part of being accountable for the funds given to our ministry.

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