As YWAM missionaries, we receive no salary, and have to trust God to provide for all of our needs. But why are we asking for monthly support directly from individuals? And how is that I, an English person, can be so direct in talking about money? Here are seven reasons:
1. This is how Jesus did it.
If you turn to the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, you will read that
…Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 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.
In case you haven’t already seen the point I’m making, at the end of verse 3 we see explicitly that Jesus and his disciples were supported directly by “women helping to support them out of their own means”. So not by the Missionary Support Fund of his local synagogue in Galilee, but by a group of individuals who believed in the work he was doing.
‘But you’re not Jesus’ – someone might legitimately say. Very definitely true.
Nevertheless, when Jesus sends out his disciples he instructs them to depend on relational support just as he has been modeling – “for the labourer is worthy of his wages” Luke 10:7.
2. This teaches us to be humbly transparent about our needs.
If I have a weakness—and I have many—it is a tendency towards self-sufficiency and self-reliance. This is a tendency which individualistic Western culture often encourages, and rarely recognizes as a weakness.
But Christians are not meant to be self-sufficient individuals but rather part of an interdependent family. This is something God is teaching me.
And part of the way that he is teaching me this is by putting me in this position where we need to actively seek out others in God’s family who will be willing to provide for us what we cannot provide for ourselves (finances).
3. This teaches us to depend on God’s promises.
Consider just three of the Bible’s ‘exceeding great and precious promises’:
– The promise of Easter logic (Romans 8:32):
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
– The promise of Jesus to his followers (Matthew 6:28-30):
“ Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”
– The promise of Paul to gospel Christians (Philippians 4:19):
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
It is all too easy to pay lip-service to the faithfulness of the God who has promised all of these things. But when it comes to the point where we need to step out in faith, trusting that the God whose name is Jehovah Jireh will indeed provide—then will we be able to show that we really trust these promises?
As for me and my household, we will.
4. This is how YWAM does it.
We are about to join Youth With A Mission, to work full-time as missionary volunteers. YWAM does not pay any of their members a salary, and so we are required to find support elsewhere.
But ‘we are required…’ makes this sound like this is a hard and difficult thing that YWAM forces us to do. On the contrary, this is a privilege for us—to be able to spend all of our time seeking God and his kingdom, and say like the Levites that “the Lord is our portion” (Numbers 18:20; cf. Lamentations 3:24)!
And it is also an aspect of our continuing discipleship, by which we will learn to ‘Practice Dependence on God for Finances’ (in the words of YWAM Foundational Value #16) .
5. This keeps us directly accountable to you, whose money we are receiving.
Too many middle men can often create a muddle of bureaucracy whereby the people who really need resources don’t receive what they need, and the people who give don’t know where their gifts have gone.
Supporting us directly means that whoever gives to us knows where their money is going. We will keep in regular contact, so that you can continue to pray for us and keep us accountable. And if at any point you have any questions regarding what we are doing then please ask, and we will inform and explain.
6. This allows you to participate directly in our ministry.
We have an incredible privilege in doing what God has called us to do: devoting ourselves to prayer and worship in a peculiarly intensive way, having the chance to share the gospel in all kinds of situations, helping people from different nations learn what it means to be disciples of Jesus—and there is much more!
Without in any way wanting to deny that it is important that there be Christians in business, in the media, in teaching—in every sphere of society—God has given us an exciting and vital ministry. And by supporting us financially (or indeed even more, by supporting us in prayer) you become part of this.
7. This is a method that can be implemented by anybody.
If the Great Commission is going to be fulfilled in this generation, and communities of gospel-centred Spirit-filled followers of Jesus are to be established in every ethnic group of the world, then it’s going to take a larger full-time missionary force than just Taryn and me.
Now if our support strategy is based on our specific gifts or the peculiar privileges of the social/economic backgrounds that we come from, then there is no way that we can guarantee that it will work for anyone else.
But if our support strategy is rooted in biblical principles then we can trust that those principles will be valid and effective in every place and age. And so, when we find ourselves talking to those who feel called by God into full-time missionary service, whether the person be a high-flying Cambridge graduate or a refugee from Somalia (within the past two months we have talked to would-be missionaries of both descriptions), we can confidently say that God promises to provide, and point to our own lives by way of example.