There are very few missionaries that I know that couldn't use more funds, myself included. And I know many who are struggling by with very little support.
Now I know it is God who calls us. And I have plenty of stories where myself or my family was in need and something that only God could orchestrate what happened to meet an immediate need. But I can't help to think of why so many missionaries are struggling and not thriving in their finances if they are called by God? Yes, I know that God uses our funds (or lack of) to teach us. But I do believe there is more to it than just teaching from God on trusting him.
I want to look at the Parable of the Talents and learn from it and apply it to our mission calling.
In Matthew 24:11-30, we read about a master leaving for a journey, and he gives one servant five talents, another two talents, and the last one talent. When he got back, the first servant invested the five talents and made 10, the second invested the two talents and made 4, the last dug a hole and buried it. When the master came back, he told the first two, "'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much." He was upset with the last servant, to say the least, and ended up taking the one talent he had left and giving it to the servant who had ten talents.
Let us take the principle of this passage and apply it in our context.
God has given us missionaries relationships. Some of us have more relationships than others. And it is in some of these relationships God provides supporters through certain individuals. So are we faithful in our relationships?
Like what I shared in my last article, How Many Supporters should a Missionary Have? I shared how I knew many missionaries who only had 1 to 3 supporters. That was the case with me when I first started out. In my first year, I only had one regular supporter. The following year I only had 3. But what I believe is in those first two years, I was faithful in my relationships (not with just my supporters, but those in my circle of relationships) through communication. So if we lack support, we need to ask ourselves a question:
Am I faithful?
We need to be faithful in 3 areas.
1- Faithful to Our Calling
Are we doing what God called us to do? Are we still sharing Jesus Christ with those who don't know Him? We can't expect God to provide if we are not doing what He called us to do.
2- Faithful with the Money we do have
Even if we don't have much money, we need to be faithful to what God has already provided. If we are not faithful in what little we have, then don't expect to get more.
3- Faithful in our Circles of Relationships
We need to be faithful in our communication to our supporters and others as well. That communication should be through newsletters (email and snail mail), Social media, phone calls. Etc. We should also express gratefulness to funds already given. And we should also be faithful in building new relationships.
The third point is where I find that most missionaries are weak. Why? In most cases, it is a lack of skill. They just don't know how to do it. But the good news is we can learn new skills. If you need help developing your skillset, go to Unmuzzled Ox, Sign up for their blog, and look at tips to help you.
So to answer my question, Who supports a missionary- God or man? God usually provides through people we have a relationship with. That truth brings us to the question, "Are we faithful in those relationships?"
For those who are asking, yes, I do believe God can use a "Tent Making" job to provide for your needs. But that shouldn't be an excuse not to keep a relationship with others.
Dustin has been serving as a missionary for 24 years. Here is where he places some of his teaching, thoughts, and updates.