How do I raise support?
When we think of support, we usually mean money. Yet the funding is not the principal need – it’s prayer. It is foolhardy and dangerous to embark on mission without having people who are praying for you. In fact some agencies won’t even accept you on a short-term mission if you don’t have at least ten people literally signed up to pray for you. So ask you family and friends, your church leaders and your small group to pray for you in the run-up to going, as you make choices, raise funds, and prepare yourself.
Secondly, you’re going to need practical support. People to help with fundraising activities, lend you clothing and equipment, drive you to the airport and do a whole lot of things. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help. They will usually be pleased to be able to be involved in your adventure in some way, and it’s a great way of generating interest in what you’re doing.
The funding however is always the most daunting need, particularly as many agencies charge quite high fees for taking part in their programmes. The first thing to remember is that this is a faith exercise – if God really wants you to go, God is able to provide the funding you need, along with everything else. Also, if you’re going to cope well with the challenges you’ll encounter on your mission, you need to have your faith raised by knowing that God has provided the funding. So set about the task prayerfully, and ask God to provide for you.
That doesn’t mean that going out and raising money isn’t expecting God to provide. God is a team player and loves to use other people to be involved in funding your mission. They may not be aware of that so you need to let them know! If you’re bold enough, you can ask people directly, either face-to-face or by sending out letters. Start with your church – many churches have a budget for supporting short-term missions. Approach the leaders and ask. Then produce a prayer letter telling church members, friends, and family of your needs, and asking for their help.
You can also do fundraising activities like washing cars, busking or selling cakes, all of which are quite popular. The more athletic might like to try a sponsored run or cycle, and the adventurous often go parachuting. Use your imagination, and try to do something you enjoy or are known to be good at.
Above all, make sure people know what you’re doing, why it’s significant, and why you need the money. They will be much more involved if they can see it’s a good cause rather than a bit of Christian tourism.
And pray, constantly!