Thursday, July 24, 2008

What is a PM?

Percent of support currently pledged: 45%

Dear Family and Friends,

We have returned safely home from Grand Rapids after two very packed weeks of training and connecting with family and friends. We’ve enjoyed every minute – even the travel – as it gives us lots of opportunities to talk and have time as a family. One of our favorite things to do on trips is to read books out loud and listen to books on tape. We also packed paper and scotch tape – our van looked like a trash can by the time we reached GR, however, we did have a paper house, 2 knights on horses, an elaborate book mark, and some flowers to show for it!

A part of our training with World Missions included a discussion about the different designations of missionaries that serve with World Missions. As we talk with friends and family who are members of the Christian Reformed Church, we are recognizing that our particular designation may be a little confusing for people as it is different than how things work for career missionaries with CRC World Missions. So, we will explain in this email how things will work for our family in regard to this. Our designation is that of “Partner Missionary”. I will explain what this means in bullet points below:

  • Partner Missionaries receive a stipend for living expenses from another organization (generally a school) and will need to raise some support as well. Typically, partners are single people who could live on their stipend if they live with a Nicaraguan family. Our situation is a little different in that we do not receive a stipend for living expenses, however, our stipend consists of funds to cover our children’s education at the school where we will be serving. We are also raising support for a family of 4 as opposed to 1.
  • Partner Missionaries are responsible for raising support without supplement from CRC World Missions. If our account runs low on funds, we receive a short check or no check. Career missionaries with World Missions also need to raise support, however if their account runs low, World Missions supplements their account so that they do not run short on funds.
  • An advantage to being a partner missionary with World Missions is that they pay for all of our training (as well as travel to training/meals/lodging, etc.); our brochures/prayer cards; and costs associated with managing our support account. Therefore, all donated funds go directly to our account. There is nothing taken out of our support for administrative costs.

    Before we began raising support, this process was very foreign to us and we’ve thought that this may be the case for others as well. So, below I will also try to illustrate our approach to developing a support team and what this team could look like in terms of finances.

  • We believe that our support team is a group of people who partner with us to minister to the people of Nicaragua AND it is also a group of people to whom we feel a calling to minister to. Our training with both Campus Crusade and with CRC World Missions validated our sense of calling to minister to the people of Nicaragua as well as to those who are supporting us in the States. Our prayer is that our updates would encourage you in your own walk with God and we are committed to praying for your family. I write down each prayer request you send us in my prayer journal and pray for you regularly. We also recognize that God works through our support team to minister to us which you are doing so beautifully already.
  • The nature of this partnership is such that we need others to be involved with us financially. I think this is obvious to people, but perhaps what is not obvious is how “being involved with us financially” works. It can work a few different ways. Monthly or annual gifts provide a continuity of support that assures us that our financial support will maintain consistency over the months/years we are there. We recognize that circumstances do change for people such as a job loss, etc. and expect that financial support may change as a result. Special gifts are one time gifts that are also very beneficial as they add to the amount in our account – we are simply aware that we cannot count on these gifts on an ongoing basis.
  • Sometimes people wonder how the account works in terms of how much money we have access to at any given time. Our support account is not like a bank account in the sense that we cannot access funds anytime we want to. It can actually be compared to a bathtub. Imagine a bathtub with the drain plugged. Through the faucet come the funds that are contributed by supporters. The bathtub begins to fill up as supporters contribute to our account (we are currently receiving funds into our account and the funds that are accumulating now will provide future financial security for us later when fluctuations occur). Our monthly living expenses are close to $4,000.00 a month which includes housing, insurance, social security, food (which is actually more expensive there), our tithe, car repairs, etc. When it is time for our monthly check, the drain is unplugged and $4,000 is released to us.
  • Another question may be related to how much each individual or church may support us per month or year. This varies a great deal depending on how people feel led to give. Each gift that we receive is greatly appreciated and celebrated. The way that this works can be laid out like this: With a goal of $4,000 a month, we will need 40 people to support us at $100.00 a month; 80 people to support us at $50.00 a month; 160 people to support us at $25.00 a month; or 400 people at $10.00 a month. The reality is that our support team will consist of all of these amounts which, when added together, will equal $4,000.00 a month.

    If you have any questions regarding any of this information, please let us know. Thank you for reading through it and praying for God’s leading in this. We trust that God will put our support team together, and that this too is a calling, which is why we request that you please pray before you commit. Thank you!

Peace to you,
Lisa (for Dan, Rebekah, and Will)

Tonight, Rebekah was at Bible School and the teacher was talking with the class about the Good Samaritan and then asked the class something about whether the kids can give examples of what a good Samaritan would look like in our world. Rebekah told the story of the man who helped us when our van broke down. I am touched by how God is at work in the hearts of our kids right now and how they are connecting the dots between how the God who is in the Bible - the God who did so many amazing things, is the same God who is involved in our lives today.