I regularly read the blog “Stuff Christians Like.” You should definitely check it out if you have a spare few minutes per day. Today I was reading the Post “Missionary Family Photos” and, as always, I enjoy Jon’s clever (and often hilarious) insight into things. What bothered me is the following comment by blogger iisanidiot. My response to him follows
iisanidiot said… What I think is funny is those slick full color prayer cards with the formal “we paid someone to take this” picture, and paid $10,000 to print 30,000 of these to spread like rain as we take a fundraising vacation (aka Furlough)across North America… They can afford that, but need our funds so they can go back… so they can come back next summer to get a new picture, new card, and a new tour… I would love to support the missionary who is so into their work that they are not planning their next “furlough” before they even leave to go back to “the work”… Everyone needs time off… but six months every year is a bit excessive isn’t it?
I appreciate that your heart is for missionaries to be good stewards of their time and finances, and I will grant that there are folks out there who take advantage of furloughs and don’t use money wisely.
However, I wonder if you have ever tried to raise support. The reason I wonder that is because you complain about professionally printed materials. Had you ever raised your own salary, you would know that without a shiny brochure and a picture, people will forget to give at best, and never start at worst.
Welcome to the catch-22 of my life. I am supposed to raise support, but in trying to do a professional job of that I have Barnabases like yourself heaping on the “I could have gotten it cheaper” bull. Yes, I could have gotten my prayer letters printed cheaper, and then folks would not give, because they would not be able to see the pictures. Pictures are what grab people’s hearts.
What concerns me most about your comment is that there is the underlying assumption that missionaries are supposed to be dirt-poor folks that churn their own butter and wear too much denim. While I don’t want to jump off the other side of it and say that missionaries are supposed to have Rolex watches and Platinum Jesus bling, I think that Biblically speaking the Levites and Priests got the “first-fruits” of everything from the other 11 tribes. That’s the Prime Rib and Caviar, not the used clothing and mustard-yellow couch you were going to take to the dump but decided you’d rather get the tax write-off, so you give it to a missionary family.
I should clarify that I don’t own a single piece of furniture that wasn’t given to me, and I can’t remember the last time I had Prime Rib. But I do have nice stuff. I have an iPhone that I bought when I sold my car. I have a Harley-Davidson that my dad gave me. But even in telling you those two things I own, I felt the need to justify the purchases, as though I should use a rotary phone or drive a scooter.
I try not to judge you based on what you do and don’t purchase. Please extend me (and other missionaries) that same courtesy. And if you have questions about how I spend my money, I would be more than happy to explain why I purchase the things I do. I’m sure that the family you took such offense to would love the chance to explain their spending habits, as well. I don’t have any financial secrets.
And if you would love to support me, as you say in your comment, you can feel free to, here.