Wednesday, April 26, 2006

thoughts on discouragement

So, where do I start. I felt like talking to the blogosphere. There are a few I know who read this and a few surprises. Thing is, I got discouraging news today in the form of a refusal of support from a church I was not only hoping would support my ministry but was believing would do so. This event is nothing new, it's just at a time when I need things to happen fast and deadlines are creaping up on me.
It's not new that a church would turn me down, has happened a number of time. In fact, it's catchy.....
Just got a phone call while writing this, with yet another refusal.Wayside Chapel in San Antonio, has "too many missionaries and too little support". It's a common theme. Churches around America are reconsidering what kind of missionaries that they will support and even cutting off some from their lists. Who am I to come in at a time like that? Popular ministries are doing well, missions to Asia and the 1040 window as well as any other form of muslim ministry that doesn't fit in the 1040.
Can I just say I'm discouraged. I don't want to doubt God or displease Him. I want to have faith but.....what is faith? What is the difference between believing something will happen and being foolish? Then, when we have doubts, do we kill the whole thing because we're doubting? I understand that just believing something will happen does not mean that God has to make it so. But how do I know when to trust and believe and when something?
Why does God make it so hard for missionaries to go? Why is money such a stupid big deal? When I decided to do this, I certainly wasn't thinking of what a great salary I'd get. I wanted to work with Youthbuilders. That's it. I wanted to be involved in short term missions with teens. Money, "support" has become the work. I hate this. And who am I to complain? Missionaries do this and have been doing this for ages! Even Jesus had to have the support of others. A few women travelled with him and the disciples for three years and supported them out of their own means. I shouldn't feel like a beggar, like a lazy person. I've talked to the missionaries in the short term office and they certainly work hard, and I know that hard work is ahead of me. But is that it? Work harder?
I have been reading a recommended book called "God's Smuggler" about a young man who smuggled Bibles into communist lands, and the amazing stories of living by faith. One story was how they got a CAKE in time for a tea that they promised students who would come to an evangelism rally. CAKE! Like, how in the world did those guys know that God would honor such a request! How did they know that what they were doing was in His will. They just promised a tea knowing they had no money, and then waited for God to supply their needs for it. Come on! Cake is certainly not a need. They did give away as easily as they were given it, but does that mean that God is not providing because I'm not giving enough? How much should I DO, before I "please" Him enough? I know that's not it either. I know that Jesus isn't all about doing things to please Him. It's about knowing and talking and being with Him. So what is the answer? What IS living by faith?
To anyone who has made it this far, I feel better just talking....well typing...but I have a request for prayer. Prayer that I'll be fully supported by the deadline of May 25 ( I have to give the mission the notice by then in order to receive any salary for June). And prayer that God would be pleased to teach me what all of this is about and give me hope as well as new ideas of who to ask and whom to go for support. I'm all dried up.


Nomad said...

While I do not think the current support system is all that good, I think God allows it to continue because "paying the price" of being a missionary only begins with raising support. One must be willing to stand up under the worst that Satan can dish out as a full-time worker for God. And the battle to get churches to support you weeds out everyone who is not truly dedicated. Even in our own Youth Group, how many kids at some point vowed to go into missions who you know quite well would never survive on the missions field? The high barrier to entry ensures they never get out there to damage the name of God amongst unbelievers.

But I really sympathize with your dilemma. Doesn't it seem like when a truly dedicated, called, and prepared person is ready to go, that churches should be lining up to send them?

Nomad said...

OK, just realized you were not asking for sympathy so much as support ideas, so here are a few. No idea if they are any good, but figured they were worth putting out there:
1. Tent-building - Keep doing dog training part-time in WI to make up the difference
2. Turn to Teens: Discuss with Pastoral Staff about having the Youth Group help support you, specifically, with regular events. For TeenBuilders, it seems to make sense
3. Cross-Country Visitation: We have friends in California, Texas, Minneapolis, Maine, Upstate NY, etc. Maybe it is time for a low-cost (stay with friends) "world tour" to scope out new churches and potential donors.
4. Tent-Building 2: eBay could be a way to raise extra money without a whole lot of extra work. Selling small items like baseball cards or purses could bring in cash without requiring a lot of room, or much investment beyond the items and the DSL line you already have.
5. Reuse your existing base: What would happen, I wonder, if you asked all of your existing donors to give just $5 more a month? How much would that close your gap?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dagney, it's Melissa Huitt. I just wanted to let you know that I'm praying for you!

I know this whole thing is really frustrating. How can we tell the difference between trusting in God to do his thing and expecting unreasonable things to happen? If something we were dedicated to and spent alot of time putting effort into falls apart, does it just mean that crap happens and we can learn from it, or is it God saying no? I wish I knew. I guess we just have to let the chips fall where they may, as frustrating as that is.

If I had money, it would be shooting through the mail to you faster than you can say missionary, haha. But alas. :-/ Good luck, and I'll be lifting you up to God.

Hey You! said...

Can't you have faith and do something too? Does "waiting on God" mean doing nothing and just waiting for Him to provide or does it mean doing something and knowing that He will make things happen? I hope and pray you will find the encouragment that God has for you to find. I personally like suggestions 3 and 5 from Nomad. If there is anything specific that I can do for you please let me know.

Nomad said...

I just had two other thoughts. As always feel free to ignore.

1. Maybe God is neither saying "No" nor "Wait" on this one. What if He is saying "86% is what you need to do what I have set out for you." I have no idea how your support goal was set, but maybe God is telling you that the original target was 14% too high and that you already have what you need.

2. One more possible solution. Could you tweak the way the payments come, so that you can benefit from accrued payments. i.e. If you went up and were able to work one month without salary and simply build up the donations for that month, would the extra that has built up from your donors over the course of that month be enough to make up the 14% difference and allow you to have full salary from then on out, without requiring more donors.

I hope one of these is helpful. If not, just take it as my way of trying to be supportive.

shadowmom1 said...

I'm sure all these concerns and problems are very common among missionaries. These questions, doubts, and discouragement will be answered/addressed by God and you will see Him work in and through you and the circumstances. Then you will be able to encourage others who will walk the same path you are walking now.

During my darkest days, of which you are aware, I often asked what God wanted me to learn and why it had to go on so long, etc. He taught me many things that I have been able to share with other women who have been widowed young. And some things that were for me alone.

I know that you know that "all things work together for good...." God will bring beauty out of even the painful parts.

I will continue to pray for your monetary support as well as your emotional/spiritual ups and downs.

I actually liked the idea of the Calvary Youth Group considering supporting you in some way. I don't know how it would fly with "the powers that be", but is worth considering/asking.

I love you.