The Ups and Downs of Support Raising

There are many people, I’m sure, that would advise me not to share this post. But as I process, I only feel it fair to be honest with those following our story.

I never could have known the experience of raising funds to support our ministry would turn out like this. It is literally the hardest thing I have ever done. I come to the end of each day exhausted; emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

  • The people we were certain would give, either can’t, or aren’t interested.
  • The people we half-heartedly sent a two sentence email, are those inviting us over for dinner because they are so excited to hear about our ministry.
  • The students that are paying off loans and working two jobs, are sacrificing greatly to give us over $100 a month because that’s what Jesus led them to.
  • The established families with 2 full time salaries need to do what’s best for their family, so they can only give $20 a month.
  • The retired couples are choosing to continue their regular gifts to their church rather than commit to us.
  • Family members are sharing our story with anyone who will listen.
  • Churches don’t have it set aside in their budget to give to missionaries.

No Judgements here. These are just the realities we have come across in the last month. They are inspiring and discouraging, frustrating and humbling. I have cried tears of joy and fear in the same day, multiple times.

I visited my parents’ church last Sunday. There was a representative from Agape International speaking about their ministry in Cambodia. He shared that their church alone, had given $200,000 in the last year to their ministry. I felt like collapsing. That could cover 2 full years of our support. Why not us?? Yes. It is heart breaking to see children being trafficked. But as I watched the video of the restoration that is happening, and the schools, and the churches, and the organizations that this agency has started, I found myself with tears in my eyes; For the people of England. Because although their physical needs may be met, most of their hearts will never experience the kind of joy that the Cambodians are finding. Does no one care for the English? Why does it not break peoples’ hearts to know that no one is sharing the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ with the people in London? Why aren’t churches willing to back missions to Europe, like they do to third world countries?

Clearly, I am meant to weep for the English. It is the call and the passion God has placed on my heart. And it is only because he put it there, that I am able to press on in this season of raising support. I read a letter today that puts it much clearer than I ever could. It reads:

“It is a humbling thing to ask people for money.  Nothing I’ve ever done in my entire life has brought me to the knees of bowing low than asking people to support you.

Unless you’ve had to raise money, it’s something you really can’t know. I don’t know the pain of childbirth.  But I’ve heard the stories and witnessed the moans, screams and the holding of one’s breath till something passes. But what I’m writing here is something I want you to know.

To ask someone to invest in a cause that has captured your heart requires this kind of meekness.  You ask people to help you because unless you get help, you can’t do what you were made to do.

Raising support keeps me and others like me in a low place. This is a place where arrogance dies and where pride falls.  It is a place I both hate and love. I hate it because to bow low is so simply painful to be honest.  I love it-well, I like it because I get to see God in ways those that get their paychecks might miss.

To ask someone to support you is to ask someone to invest in a vision-something bigger than yourself-something that is organic and deep within-something that is compelling-something that you simply cannot NOT do. You have to do it because in God’s universe, there is simply no way to do it unless you ask. So you muster up the courage. Write the letter. Make the call and decide to do it.

So, I remain committed.  And I remain humble.  My family and I remain in need of your help.  Without your help, we simply can’t move forward.  And with your help, we receive more than your check or e-transaction. We receive that Great Providence to keep moving forward to speak, to write, to help, and to care.” -Steve Smith of Potter’s Inn

In conclusion, as we continue to ride the roller coaster of ministry partner development, I have to say that each high is more than worth all of the lows. To get that much closer to being able to do what we are meant to do, is exhilarating and breathtaking. For those of you who are already on the ride with us, Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

Sarah Bentley