"...it’s a whole lot easier to live in freedom when you have enough support coming in for full paychecks and ministry reimbursements and with a healthy buffer to boot."
By Seth J.*
By: Seth J.*
I’m an overseas missionary, and I have a confession to make. My wife and I have made financial decisions in recent years that might make you uncomfortable. We put our kids in an international school. We own a couple of stateside rental properties. We take regular family vacations – we even traveled to Hawaii this summer (gasp!) – and we often buy the latest Apple products.
But raising and living on support hasn’t always been like this. There were days when I would forbid my wife from posting certain vacation pics on social media. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there were also days when I would subtly attempt to guilt people into supporting us. Even still, we occasionally hear those backhanded comments, such as from the person at church who thinks missionaries shouldn’t own rental properties. Clearly, we cannot control the reactions of others, but we can control ourselves.
How have we been able to break the chains of the “poor me” mentality? For one, by God’s grace, we’ve been fully funded for the last two decades. It’s a whole lot easier to live in freedom when you have enough support coming in for full paychecks and ministry reimbursements and with a healthy buffer to boot.
Another key for us has been having a deep, instinctive sense of our own ministry calling. The work my wife and I do, mobilizing the global church toward greater involvement in the Great Commission, is a high and worthy calling. It’s not “less than” working for IBM. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about justifying a prosperity gospel approach to support raising. But rather, being firmly rooted in our calling gives us boldness and confidence when approaching prospective supporters. It’s a privilege to mobilize them through their partnership with us.
A third key for us has been generous and sacrificial giving to the Lord. In addition to our regular tithing in support of our local church and several different ministries and missionaries, we have experienced great joy in making some large investments in special ministry projects that have aligned with the ministry interests our family has. As ministry workers, it’s easy to excuse ourselves from sacrificial giving, thinking that’s something reserved for our supporters with means. But just because we’ve committed to vocational Christian ministry, why shouldn’t we receive the privilege of funding a Bible translation for an unreached people group, or investing in a strategic initiative to help reach a gospel-deprived part of the world?
When it comes to living on support, far too many gospel workers are shackled by a cycle of fear, insecurity, and hopelessness that cripples their families and ministries. What a game-changer it would be if God were to move those shackles and set us free for a lifetime of spiritually healthy, vision-driven, fully funded service to our Lord!
Seth J.* has served in vocational ministry for the past 27 years, including 10+ years in Asia where he and his family still serve. He has previously served in campus ministry in the United States as well as at a key university in East Asia. He also directed a contextualized ministry for East Asian international students in the U.S. Now a frontier mobilizer with the Center for Mission Mobilization, Seth and his family are working to mobilize believers in this strategic part of the world. He and his wife have three teenagers and have been raising support for over 25 years.
* For security reasons, name has been changed.