Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hope for the hopeless: A blog for the Newtown tragedy

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)

I had every intention tonight to sit down and write a Christmas greeting blog to all our partners in ministry but due to the events of the day surrounding the shootings at the elementary school in Connecticut I am not feeling very festive at the moment. Today has been emotional for me, being the parent of a kindergartner my heart is breaking for the families of these children. I am sure many of you experienced the same gut wrenching emotion that came with picking up a child from school today. It may have just been me but I felt the thickness of grief yet relief in the eyes of all the parents and teachers as we held our children a little tighter. 
What posses a person to act out in such evil violence? This is the question that has plagued me today. Now I am no psychologist,  not even close, but in my understanding there is no way that this person had any HOPE. 
A fellow friend in the ministry posted on my Facebook page today "You and Brandon will never know how many other tragedies will be stopped because of your dedication to the youth of our country"  Wow! The feeling of responsibility in that statement is almost overwhelming to me, yet how amazing is our calling that we have the opportunity to offer hope to college students. I share this with you because I want to encourage you; everyone that claims to be a Christ follower is called to share the hope we have found in Jesus. Before my friend made that comment I was terrified, I wanted to wallow in the evil that plagues this world and all I cared about was protecting my children, but sometimes it takes the reminder of our calling to pull us out of ourselves and stay the course. 
Due to the events of today I think we will go into our ministry with Chi Alpha with a different perspective. Perhaps we will have the chance to share with a troubled student the only hope he or she may ever know. 
I pulled up a few of my favorite verses on the Hope that is found in Jesus may they comfort you today and give you the strength to fulfill your calling. 

John 16:33 
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Isaiah 40:30-31 
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Questions About Support-Raising

**NOTE** I borrowed much of this from our Chi Alpha mentor Glen Davis. A few of the links take you to other articles on his blog.
Assemblies of God missionaries are not allowed to begin their mission until they have assembled a team of churches and individuals willing to fund their ministry. This often confuses people, so I thought I’d answer what I perceive to be the common questions.
Can You Just Give Me a Quick Explanation?
There is a consistent principle taught in the Scriptures: ministers should be paid by the people of God. In this regard, there are two broad categories of ministers: pastors, who are paid by the local congregations they serve, and missionaries, who are paid by others than the ones they are ministering to.
Chi Alpha campus workers are missionaries. The reason for this is very simple: college students don’t have any money! In addition, the college scene in American is as pagan as any place on earth, so there are few who would be willing to pay Christian workers even if they did have the resources to do so.
For this reason, then, Chi Alpha campus workers are required to build a support team to aid them in their ministry. Part of that support is prayer, part of it is emotional support, and part of it is financial support.
Is this Biblical?
Yes! For more detail, read our essay on The Biblical Basis for Support-Raising.
Why doesn’t the church pay you?
The church is paying us. The church is not a building; the church is people!
Ha, ha. So why doesn’t your denomination pay you a salary?
  • If the denomination salaries missionaries, the money has to come from somewhere–and that somewhere is the churches. Effectively, it becomes a tax on churches.
  • Historically, denominations that tax churches this way have very few missionaries–nobody likes to pay taxes, not even churches. Raising support by contacting friends and family is a far more effective strategy. Plus, it’s the Biblical method!
  • It’s a scalable system. Every new missionary is required to go and generate the funds necessary for their own ministry. No matter how many missionaries we have, we can always have more because there’s no fixed allotment that all the missionaries have to compete for scraps of.
  • Raising support requires that a minster build a network of relationships which keep him accountable and motivate him to work diligently. If you know that your best friend is paying part of your salary, you’re much less inclined to goof off.
  • Missionaries beget missionaries! Most missionaries become missionaries through contact with another missionary. Support-raising forces missionaries to develop relationships that ultimately result in the production of new missionaries.
Why do you have to raise your full budget first?
Because the Assemblies of God wants long-term successes, not one-shot wonders. If missionaries reach their fields before they raise their full support, they are much more likely to fail their task. They become consumed with their work, and they eventually reach a point where they must either quit, get a part-time job, or live in unhealthy conditions. None of these things is conducive to long-term ministry. By forcing missionaries to raise their budget in full, the A/G contributes greatly to their longevity in ministry. By contributing to longevity they contribute to effectiveness.
Longevity aside, insufficient funding has immediate implications. Without a full budget our ability to minister is literally compromised. Our missionary budget is not just our salary! It’s actually the full organizational budget for our ministry. Out of that budget, a certain amount goes to our salary and the rest goes toward work expenses: without those funds ministry opportunities have to be passed up. Like everything else, ministry requires money.
Who oversees the finances?
We are accountable to Assemblies of God US Missions. All funds are routed through them in order to provide financial oversight for the missionaries.
How do I begin supporting your ministry?