Contributions (click here after reading below)

Link: Contributions (click here after reading below)

For those that don’t know, Campus Crusade for Christ staff members raise their own salary, benefits charges, and ministry expenses.

We don’t see it as just asking for financial support, but as an appeal to partnership.  We want a team of people to reach college students with the gospel.  We volunteer to be the members of that team that go out and beat the bushes on the college campus.  But we need a team of people behind us to “hold the rope” financially and prayerfully.

We Christians get a bad rap for always asking for money.  I realize that.  This is not an appeal for you to send money if you don’t want college students to hear the gospel, or if you aren’t a Christian yourself.  Skip this post and stay tuned for more content that will be decidedly more light-hearted and fun.  But if you are a Christian, and you do want to see college students reached with the gospel, we need you.  Our team is not complete, and with the addition of the new little boy, our needs have increased.  Please prayerfully consider supporting us with your prayers and your giving.  Thank you for taking the time to read this.

"You should be in sales"

I just got off the phone with a sweet lady whose name I was given by a friend of a friend and told she would have a heart for ministry, and would be encouraged to hear what we do with Campus Crusade here in Western NC. I have had a hard time connecting with her, left a series of messages, and then when I do get in touch with her, two things are clear. First, she is a very busy lady, and has a lot on her plate. Second, she seems to have a real heart for the Lord and is very nice.

<aside>I go to great lengths when calling folks to try and set up appointments to not be the guy that is just a slick salesman telemarketer trying to con my way into getting people on the hook by the end of the call. That’s not my heart at all. I am not selling them anything. I am offering what I believe to be a great way to invest their time, energy, prayers, and finances. I really believe what I am doing to be a calling, not just a job, and I believe that just as God has called me to share the gospel on college campuses, he has called others to support me, my wife, and my child while I go about doing that. Furthermore, I believe he has called me to join him in developing that team of financial and prayerful partners, by making phone calls, setting up appointments, sharing joyfully what he is doing, and asking boldly for people to join with me.

I tried to communicate all of that (in two minutes) to this sweet lady, and what I heard happening (despite my best efforts) was her feeling pressured. She said that she was not able to help financially, and I responded (very truthfully) that one of the main reason I meet with people is not the finances, it’s the partnership. I want people praying, aware of what God is doing, and excited about it. I also don’t know enough people in the area that have a heart for the Lord, and have spent the past week calling the same 10 people each night. So another reason to meet is to allow her and her husband to introduce me to others in their sphere of influence who I might call and invite to join us in reaching college students for Christ. When I said that, she said she’d love to meet, would love to hear what we are doing, but are just slammed with many things, ranging from planning a wedding for a daughter to running a business, and that I should “call back after we get her married off.”

I totally understood, communicated that, and asked if August or September would be a good time to contact her. She laughed and said “I don’t know Ben, but you should be in sales!”

I didn’t take that as a compliment. I was trying, in fact, to communicate exactly the opposite message from that of a salesman. A salesman is worried about the sale. I was far more concerned in the conversation with hearing her, and all of the craziness in her world, and wanted to figure out when I could call back and not be a bother, but instead be a blessing. So I asked for a specific date to call back. She seemed bothered by that.

Instead of clearly communicating what I did in the last paragraph, I stammered something about getting in touch with her in the fall, and hung up the phone.

I share all of this to provide some context for those of you who have never raised a significant amount of financial support. I am not just about people writing me a fat check. (Though fat checks, made out to Campus Crusade, and mailed to me are never frowned upon) I am about giving people a chance to worship God with their wallets. Do I think I am the only missionary worth giving to? Absolutely not. Do I think that I am somehow entitled to people not confusing me with a telemarketer? Nope. But I am human, and doing something of far more worth than telemarketing.

So, even though I might be a good salesman, please don’t suggest it as a career path when I call.   I’d be a terrible salesman.  The reason I am so persistent in my current profession is because I really believe in it.  My career is evangelism, or trusting God to do the impossible, in bringing his enemies into the family, and giving them a new heart. I need people to support me in my current career, I don’t need a new one.

Partners partnering.

We are often characterized by the loudest or most visible of the people who claim the same labels as ourselves.  In our case, as ministers of the gospel (a label we’ll take even with all it’s baggage), we get lumped in with late-night TV evangelists and other con-artists (the Rev. Peter Popoff immediately springs to mind…) who ask for money too much, and use it in ways that don’t honor God.  It’s unfortunate.  But just as legitimate plumbers have to go out of their way to wear pants that stay at their waistline, and non-perverted construction workers have to clarify every time they ever talk to a female, we have accepted it is just something that comes with the calling of missionary.  So, in an effort to distance ourselves in every way from those scam artists, we want to take some time to say thanks for giving.

Though we are still far from our long-term goals of savings and paying off student loans, those of you who recieve our newsletters learned that recently we have been experiencing a major short-fall in our financial support.  We asked in our most recent letter for folks to pray, and want to update you on how God is answering those prayers.

God led some of you to even be the answer to your own prayers, and you sent in large special (because “one-time” sounds so… permanent) gifts that will help us get through the next couple of months while we continue to develop more partners to join our team.  Thank you so much.  We have also had a handful of folks join our team at various amounts of monthly support.  Most of then were not even on our newletter list, so it truly was supernatural that they felt led to partner with us.

So, thanks for giving.  Thanks for praying, and thanks for being a part of college students getting a chance to hear about Jesus.  We are so priviledged to be His voice on campus.

Oh, and feel free to email this link to all your friends who rightfully have the wrong impression that all ministers drive Bentleys and have wives who cry on demand with extra large hairdos and dogs that fit in their purse.  With your help we can change some stereotypes.

An honest reply.

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?

@ iisanidiot
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.

Financial Reality Check.

We are in the midst of the craziness.  The first six weeks of class are upon us, and God is doing what only he can do, inclining the hearts of students to hear the gospel.  It is a great time to be in campus ministry!

But, to be honest, there are a lot of things looming in the back of our minds, and at times making a dash for the front of our minds.  As you know if you’ve been around our blog for very long, issues like Benjamin’s possible need for surgery and our desperate need for more monthly financial support have been a distraction from giving our full energy to ministering to students on campus.  We have experienced a full range of emotions, and have repeatedly needed to remind ourselves of our position in Christ and the truth of the gospel.

The fact is, at the rate we are losing financial support, we will have to pull off campus full time within the next month to raise support (during the most critical time to be on campus).  And if we don’t see dramatic increases in our support, we will have to leave staff very soon.  I have had the verse from 1 Timothy 5:8 (if anyone doesn’t provide for his family, he is worse than an unbeliever) ringing in my ears for the past few months, and as much as I love ministering to students, my primary ministry is to my family.  I have been tirelessly making phone calls all summer long, trusting the Lord to raise the support we need.  We have seen some progress, but not at the rate we really need it.

Please pray with us that the Lord would bring in the support we need, and enable us to minister to students with all of our energy.  I have never in my staff career felt more energized to be in ministry, and I really feel like now more than ever I am working out of my strengths, and seeing God use my meager efforts.  Pray with me that God would continue to use our ministry to change lives, and that he would provide all we need to keep doing that.