It was great reading some of your answers to the questions raised.
My question is two-fold:
First, I am from a Christian family and my parents are pastors. They desire and God has even led/spoken to them to come to Canada, from the Middle East to serve Him here, in Toronto and other cities and although they believe this is an entire family vision, I don't really feel I'm called to specifically serve God here. I want to be a cross-cultural missionary, serving God and preaching the gospel of the kingdom to unreached people groups. However, my parents, at the moment aren't really convinced that I should do it and don't, at least to me, seem enthused about it.
Second, I've never really gone on a mission trip and plan to do one this summer. However, the idea of support-raising is daunting. Moreover, while our family was doing a bible study on Luke 10, my dad was speaking on how the disciples weren't supposed to carry any money/posessions with them, etc and he raised the issue of people 'asking' for money and how it possibly could be wrong and instead one should pray to God and ask Him and He will provide. Can you please give me more clarity on this?
I really am confused.
Thanks, and appreciate it :)
Hansie, I appreciate your sensitive and practical questions. The issues you mention are particularly sensitive since they have to do with your parents and family relationships.
Your vision for ministry: I am guessing, both from your description, as well as the fact that you come from the Middle East that your family is a closely knit one with your parents, and especially you father, having an expectation of authoritative leadership. This puts you in a difficult position to exercise individual decisions, especially in areas in which they are experienced, such as missions.
I can understand that they want you to be part of their family vision of ministry in Canada. Many sons face these kinds of tensions when their parents want them to participate in the “family business”! Some sons (and daughters, perhaps) may fit well in such an arrangement, but I think most individuals desire to branch into something of their own. Why? Part of this is what you mentioned, the sense of calling. Also, the desire to have more freedom to develop one’s own vision, gifts, and talents without being restricted to the family patterns and control.
It is hard for some parents to understand this desire for independence. It may seem like rebellion, lack of faithfulness to the family, or even lack of gratitude. One element that makes it difficult is that you have grown up in Canada where young people are expected to exercise more independence. Your parents, from the Middle East, may have a different expectation.
You will need to have great patience and wisdom in dealing with this matter, so as not to unnecessarily offend your parents who love you and long for you to work with them in their vision. Pray much.
You may want to study the way God has called His servants. Many, like Abraham, were called to “leave their family” to go “to the land I will show you”. I’m sure this was hard on Abraham’s father who was willing to go to Haran from Ur but not as far as Canaan, which was Abraham’s individual call. You may have to appeal to the fact that just as your Father left his homeland to strike out on his own in going to Canada, that now it is your turn to strike out on your own.
Support raising: Christians have different opinions regarding this matter of support raising.
• Some feel one should never even mention money and expect the Lord to provide. Hudson Taylor and George Muller were convinced that the Lord was leading them to ask Him for their funds and not people, and developed the philosophy of “faith missions” of a former generation.
• Some feel free to ask people to pray for funds, which is rather a covert way of sharing one’s needs.
• Others have no problems in sharing opportunities and asking people to invest with them in the ministry of the Kingdom.
I prefer to use the phrase, “people raising” rather than “fund raising”. This places the emphasis on sharing an opportunity with individuals and asking them to participate in your project. The expectation is that they will not only help financially but will also pray for the person sharing the vision of this ministry. You want to feel that you have a group of people who believe in you and are standing with you in the project the Lord has laid on your heart.
I would recommend the book by William Dillon, People Raising – A Practical Guide to Raising Support. A used copy can be secured from Amazon for $.01, plus postage! Mr. Dillon doesn’t just talk about money. His approach is spiritually sensitive and encouraging. It has been helpful to a lot of individuals.
I appreciate your families’ Bible study on Luke 10, where Jesus sends out the 72 with very specific instructions about their not taking any baggage and depending entirely on the people they would meet. However, a mission trip is rather different these days. You can’t walk to where you are going, you may not be going to a place with a culture of hospitality that expects to take in travelers, a place that speaks the same language you do, etc.
I note that Paul, that great pioneer missionary, had an interesting relationship with his supporters. For example, in Romans 15:24, when he writes about his projected missionary journey to Spain, he uses an specific term, translated “assist me on my journey” which implies the kind of help that friends give to a traveler, including financial provision, equipment, even protection. In Philippians 4:10-19, every verse has to do with their financial support of his mission. Paul recognized his needs, and he provided for them both by his physical work (tentmaking) as well as provision from Christian friends. He was trusting the Lord, but recognized that it was a blessing for individuals to be co-laborers with him in his work, including providing for his financial needs.
I trust that these thoughts will be of help to you as you work through these important issues with your parents.
In His Grace,