Jack,I really want to get involved in missions upon my graduation from college. I am very interested in working outside of the U.S. My parents on the hand are weary of me raising support, they don't agree with the concept. Are there any opportunities in missions that pay?
I understand your concern, Sara, and also that of your parents. It appears that you fear being destined to become a “beggar for Jesus.”
There ARE exceptions, however! Most denominational mission boards (Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Southern Baptists) don’t require their missionaries to raise their own support. They support them through the churches’ central mission agency. However, they usually require that their missionaries are members of one of their churches and have not only college but also Seminary education.
On the other hand, let me put in a some ideas to suggest that perhaps raising support is not such a bad thing.
1) I really prefer “People Raising” to “Support Raising.” The process of securing donations for missionary service is really securing a support base of people who will be behind you when you go to serve. William Carey, who went out from England to India in 1793, used the illustration of holding the ropes of a climber who is descending down a dangerous cliff. You will need people who will care enough for you to pray with some frequency. Those who have a financial investment in your ministry are probably some of the people who will be willing to give you this spiritual backing.
2) How does one know that God is really calling an individual to a cross-cultural task and that it isn’t just an adventure or a secret desire for “tourism.” Some have said that securing support is God’s seal on the call. If He calls, He is well able to provide, and if He provides, it is another indication that His blessing is on the project.
3) Articulating your desire to serve to other people give you an opportunity to think more deeply about just what you are planning to do and why. It is as you struggle to show people the importance of their investing financially in this project that you come to see its value for yourself.
4) Sara, I would encourage you to study carefully Paul’s own description of his financial relationship with the church in Philippi (Phil 4:10-19). Every single verse says something about money in the life of this great missionary. What do you learn from Paul on this issue? How does he approach the matter? How does he turn finances into a spiritual subject?
5) Lastly, there is another way, but this is only for those who feel led to consider it. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, took the position of never asking anyone for funds, except the Lord. He led a mission of over 600 members and found the Lord meeting their every need. His theme was: “God’s work, done in God’s way, will meet God’s supply.” All “faith missions” used to have this pattern at one time, but gradually have opted now for a more direct marketing approach.
May the Lord guide you as you mull over these thoughts. If God has called you, you must obey Him. However, you are also responsible to your parents. Perhaps you could all pray together that the Lord would guide you as a family as to what position and posture to take in this important issue. Rather than being a source of conflict, it could be an opportunity for great growth in faith.
If God has called you, He will supply. The issue is to follow His leading in the little ways as well as the big ones.
Blessings on you.