Before beginning Mission Year I read a book about the life and ministry of George Mueller, a German missionary who had a heart for orphans and an incredible faith in God. As I read about how he relied on God to provide for him, praying in faith and receiving exactly what he needed, I was awed and humbled. After much prayer and discussion with my parents, I decided that I wanted my funds for Mission Year to be raised that way - through faithful prayer. For me it was an exercise in faith. I informed people about my plans to serve God in inner city Houston and also about the fact that I would be living off support, but I never asked for money. Instead I prayed that as I shared with people about my experiences and my heart for the work I'm involved in, God would move in people's hearts and urge them to give.
As I began this journey, my Dad blessed me with a verse from Genesis: "So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." (Genesis 22:14). Jehovahjireh ~ The Lord Will Provide. Throughout these past months, I have had periods of complete confidence, when I would be consistently hearing from people who wished to support me, and periods of doubt, when my support level would not change for weeks and months at a time. But I continued to pray and to trust in the Lord. Indeed the Lord did provide, and I have now raised more than the amount I need! Thanks to all of you who supported me financially and to those who continuously support me through prayer!
This journey has not ended.
Recently we were informed that Mission Year is in a bad state financially. Although we knew this from the beginning, we never knew how desperate the situation was. Mission Year has never wanted people to decide against participating in the program for financial reasons. They have always asked team members to raise $12,000 but have never turned people away if they could not raise that much. In the past this has worked out as some members have raised more than $12,000 while others have raised less. Oftentimes between team members, the support would level out, but if it didn't, Mission Year had a surplus they could dip into in order to subsidize the funds of those who didn't raise enough. Due to the recent economic recession, however, Mission Year no longer has that surplus available and now have a significant deficit.
This year a large number of team members across the country are at a critically low support level. These team members are being asked to raise $1,500 within the next two weeks. If they are not able to do so, they will have to return home as Mission Year is not in a position where they are able to support them.
Obviously, no one wants this to happen.
When we were informed of this news, I was surprised to find that rather than being filled with dread, I was filled with excitement. I am confident that we will be able to raise this money and that we will see God move in incredible ways through this struggle.
Mission Year teams are coming together now to help our teammates raise their support and stay in their cities. Already we've seen beauty come from this. First and foremost, it is a beautiful thing that through this struggle we are being drawn closer together as we join together as a community to raise money to support Mission Year and our teammates. I have seen God provide for me this year and I have a peace and assurance that He will provide for us in this seemingly dire situation.
As we've made this need known to our friends here in Houston, so many of them have already stepped up to help us and surround us with support. Our supervisor at Ecclesia has given my teammate Bonnie permission to devote her time at Ecclesia next week solely to fundraising. She also told us that she has a bunch of old furniture and other items that she will donate to us to sell in a garage sale. Yesterday a group of children from Generation One, an after school tutoring program that four of us volunteer at, set up a lemonade stand on the patio outside of Ecclesia. They raised over $300 and are donating half of their profits to our team.
One immediate result of the financial state of our organisation is that our food budget for this month has been cut in half. Already we've seen God provide for us as a couple from Steven's church came by on Saturday with practical donations to our ministry - including a large amount of food! God's timing is crazy like that. Our neighbors also continue to be generous in cooking meals for us as they have been all year.
Following Spring Break our city directors had us start working a few Astros games to raise money for Mission Year. Aramark, the company that runs the concessions, has an agreement with non-profit organisations where a group can work a concession stand and receive a portion of the profits. We were trained and certified to do this before we knew about Mission Year's finances. God's timing again is incredible. This week we will be working games each night, bringing in a significant amount of the funds we need to raise.
We continue to serve in faith that God will keep our team, and all Mission Year teams across the country, together through our fundraising efforts and the support of our friends and family.
Thank you again!