Some answers to questions about this current season of our life and ways that God is working, allowing us all to impact and influence the world for Him. Read on. You’ll want to be part of this thing God is doing!*
WHY ARE YOU GOING TO ENGLAND?
There is a need for the gospel everywhere. Yes, the statistics for Christianity in Europe are shockingly low, but that is not the only reason we are going to England. We are going to England because we believe that God’s design is for the gospel to be spread cross-culturally. Every group that receives the gospel has the responsibility to go out and share it.
But out to where? That is where we have to rely on God for direction. He calls us to the place he perfectly created us to reach. Missionaries do not go to the place the need is greatest. They go to the place that God has equipped them to be most effective in reaching.
And God has been hand-crafting Ryan and I into a couple that is uniquely equipped to reach the people that live in Birmingham.
We are going to England because we believe that God has called us to. He has prepared us for this from the beginning.
WHAT IS SUPPORT RAISING?
This process we are in is actually called Ministry Partner Development (MPD). Beyond just looking for prayer support and financial support, we want to develop partners in ministry where the process of support can go both ways. We don’t really want supporters, we want partners. We want to do this together with God’s people, not as a drain on them.*
As we develop these partnerships, we are expecting a two way commitment. We hope that our partners will commit to regularly praying for us, financially assisting the ministry, advocating for the ministry by telling God’s stories to others, and being available in various other roles as they come up. *
In turn, we commit to:
regularly praying for our partners as they minister in their specific purposes
keeping them informed on ways that they can be praying for the ministry
updating them on opportunities to serve
regularly sharing praise about ways that God is working in His Church in England.
“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Philemon 1:6,7
We intend to share in this “great joy and encouragement” with our partners in ministry.*
WHY DO WE NEED FINANCIAL PARTNERS?
We are not asking on our own behalf but on behalf of those in England who have asked us to come.* We believe that we are called by God to spend our time and our daily life serving the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of people who cannot compensate us monetarily. Therefore we ask people to partner with us, to provide us with the funds to fulfil the work God has for us to do.
Thanks to our partners, the time we would ordinarily have to spend working to cover living costs, we can instead spend investing in the hearts and lives of people that otherwise, have no community. In other words our partners enable us to minister full-time.
Just as many American pastors are able to spend their 40-50 hour weeks meeting with people, praying for people, sharing Jesus with people, we are pastors to the people of Birmingham. But unlike those pastors, we will not have a large church body we can rely on to tithe to provide us with an income. So we trust that as God has called us to this ministry, he will provide the gifts necessary to keep us available to serve.
WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GET JOBS?
Some ministries do come up with innovative ways to create ministry opportunities which are not financially dependent on the body. Other ministries use the tent-making concept (the Apostle Paul sometimes supported himself by making tents so as not to be a drain on the church), and support themselves with jobs while on the mission field–But this is not ideal for us for two reasons: First, we really believe it is important that we be ministering full time. And second, as Americans, we aren’t allowed to just up and go get jobs. *
In order to get work in the UK, a company would have to sponsor us, and that would cost them a few hundred pounds. Plus, they are bound by a pre-requisite that says that they must pursue a European national first, and then prove that we are the only ones able to do that job. This is a needle in a haystack process, near impossible.
If all that isn’t convincing enough, we also believe that there is something very holy about funding ministry through financial support. Not only for the way it enables us to serve, but for the way it impacts those giving. Giving is a valuable discipline. It teaches many things. And it uncovers joy. (It even releases seretonin!) But so few give unless there is a need. So naturally, it makes sense that God would build that into his plan for the spread of his Gospel.
“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” Luke 8:1-3
Jesus set an example for us here when he allowed others to support him and his disciples. The women had seen that Jesus and the disciples were about God’s work and wanted to be involved by helping others experience the life changing power of Jesus too!*
WHAT IS THE MONEY PAYING FOR?
We believe that God is sending us to England because it is one of the most influential countries in the world. Yet, it is also one of the most expensive countries in the world. Sure, we could live more cheaply in a different country. But since God has shown that He is doing a great work in England, we can only trust that He will provide for the needs of this ministry. And this ministry in Birmingham has made it clear that they need us to help them.*
*There are many behind-the-scenes details in a missionary budget that go beyond simply what our family uses to pay rent and eat:
soul care for our family
ongoing ministry training
administrators who make sure that we are legal and can stay
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
We are thankful for all of this and commit to being good stewards of what we are given. Also, to ensure that we are financially sound, GEM has participated in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) since 1987.*
ISN’T MY ONE-TIME GIFT HELPFUL?
Yes! And we are so thankful for these gifts that come in randomly and unexpectedly. They will enable us to do special outreaches, and spend extra money on ministry resources. But really, it is the consistent, monthly gifts that we can rely on to come in that will ensure we have enough to pay rent next month.
In order to depart for the field, we must be able to demonstrate that we have a reliable stream of incoming gifts that will be enough to keep us funded month after month. One-time gifts unfortunately do not help us with that. While they are very important, and helpful to one-time ministry expenses, they do not much help us to prove we have a stable support team.
WON’T SOMEONE ELSE GIVE?
Yes. And we hope that the next “someone else” will! By the Grace of God, there are going to be many “someones” in order to make this happen. Already, several folks have committed to partner with us in prayer and finances, but that is still a small percentage compared with what is needed to get us mobilized. We are working faithfully to tell the story of what God is doing in England to those who will listen.*
The thing is, we don’t want you to miss out. God has connected us with you because he would have us invite you to use the resources He’s given you to impact the world with his gospel.
We can see a HUGE work of God on the horizon. Already fruit is being harvested in many of these GEM ministries in the UK. England was once the major sender of missionaries all over the world and now they are struggling to see the light of God in their darkness. We feel honored to be part of this Kingdom work that will glorify God and benefit His people.* We want you to be a part of this story!
* These portions have been borrowed from our fellow UK team members, the Workmans. (http://workmanadventures.com/2014/10/16/some-whats-and-whys-of-getting-to-london/)