The temptation is strong to avoid the support-raising process that is typically required for missionary service. After all, you have learned to be self-sufficient and to respect people’s private decisions. Plus, let’s be honest! It simply feels rude to ask people for money.
These motivations and many others lead some to skip the support-raising process. Don’t do it! Skipping deputation, also called “pre-field ministry,” will rob you of important lessons through which God desires to make you more effective for Him.
1. The support-raising process is itself a ministry. It’s not about you. It’s about serving God. Sharing what God did in you to cause you to take this step of obedience will touch lives. You have chosen to value Him above family and earthly comforts. That story is impactful! Further, you will open people’s eyes to a group of lost people they may not know exists. Many pre-field missionaries have even seen people saved. You never know how God may use you during pre-field ministry.
2. The support-raising process teaches you dependence on God. When you seek God to provide partners for your short or long-term missions ministry, it requires dependence on God’s plans, not yours. The way we think God ought to do things efficiently is often not the way He chooses to work. The missionary on deputation will understand what it means to pray with Christ, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Lk. 22:42). Setting aside your own plans is a very important habit to learn for enduring and Spirt-led ministry.
3. The support-raising process builds your capacity to handle difficult tasks. Doing hard things is not something to avoid, rather to be embraced. Why? Because life and ministry on the mission field are hard. We fool ourselves when we think that ministry should happen as smoothly as our favorite app. Pre-field ministry is an invaluable time to see this played out and to recalibrate our thinking.
4. You will develop boldness. You, along with the Apostle Paul (Eph. 6:19), understand your need for boldness to speak of Christ. Just as the gospel is a message you share on behalf of God, so is the appeal to make disciples of all nations. You are one that is participating in God’s work. Therefore, you are asking the Church to give to God for this eternal work, and that requires boldness. Deputation forces you to speak confidently on God’s behalf, something you plan to be doing a lot of on the mission field.
5. The support-raising process teaches you humility. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally. But, as a member of Christ body, you are indeed dependent on the rest of the body. God’s work is carried out by the church, so the mission is the community’s and not merely up to each one individually. This removes pride and encourages humility. And humility, as with these other points, is essential for long-term effectiveness on the mission field.
6. You become surrounded with loving partners. God will build for you a safety net of many people that He will use to support and encourage you for years to come. So many that launch out on their own or through some “more efficient” means of getting to the field, miss out on so much love and support. There is nothing like it!
Don’t give in to the temptation to skip this vital ministry of preparation. You will not regret the investment you make in serving and seeking partners for this eternal ministry of missions in which you are privileged to participate.
Administrator for Church Relations and Enlistment
Travis Gravley & his wife Becky are former missionaries to Romania. He serves as BMM’s Administrator for Church Relations and Enlistment. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more ways to serve.