Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fund-raising as Ministry?

I recently sat down and read an essay by Henri Nouwen entitled "The Spirituality of Fund-raising".  I had picked up the essay last November when we were attending training at WorldVenture headquarters, but it had sat in my book pile ever since. And I am so glad I finally picked it up.

I have been praying that God would help me approach "partner development" (or raising support or fund-raising) with a healthy mentality about its purpose and God's provision. But reading Nouwen's essay identified some new lessons about fund-raising that hadn't considered - gaps in my perspective.

Nouwen challenged me to consider that...
  • to ask others to partner financially in our ministry, I first need to confront my own relationship with money
  • I should allow fund-raising to teach me how to depend on others...which is against my independent, prideful, sinful nature
  • I must love people and minister to them first...and trust God to provide the money second
  • My security is in Christ and should never be tied up in the response of others towards our ministry
  • Prayer and gratitude allow my attitude towards fund raising to be transformed
  • Fund-raising allows me to develop closer relationships with those who partner with us, which leads to ministry opportunities and deeper Christian community
So whether you are raising funds for your first short term mission trip or a 5K race, or raising fund to go to the missions field long term, or being approached for financial support by others, I hope these quotes from Nouwen will be an encouragement to you on your journey.

"Gratitude allows us to approach a fund-raising meeting without grasping neediness and to leave it without resentment or dejection. Coming and going, we can remain secure in God's love with our hearts set joyfully on the kingdom."

"Fund-raising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission."

"The question is not how we get money. Rather, the question is about our relationship with money."

"We fear being dependent on others because of the idea that dependence is a threat to our security."

"We do not need to worry about the money. Rather, we need to worry about whether, through the invitation we offer them and the relationship we develop with them, they will come closer to God."

"Asking people for money is giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the Kingdom. To raise funds is to offer people the chance to invest what they have in the work of God."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We've Arrived in Minnesota

After a lot of preparation, Bethany and I have landed in Minnesota.  We are excited to be here and see so many great friends we haven't seen in a while. We'd love to see you while we are here so shoot us an email or give us a call!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods...

For the first week of July, we had the wonderful chance to vacation with my immediate family in the Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia. Thanks to some family time shares, we were all in a beautiful resort called Massanutten, full of great outdoor activities, a water park, and lots of kid-friendly fun. We had a great week with the family and we got to visit with some cousins who live nearby, as well.

Here are a few highlights...
  • Seeing all 6 nieces and nephews...and how big they are getting!
  • Going mountain biking for the first time on world-class trails (and not killing ourselves)
  • Climbing at Seneca Rocks
  •  Touring the Luray Caverns
  • Spending a day at the water park and hitting the water slides with all the kids
  • Playing games & eating lots of ice cream
  • Having the whole family together!
Here are some photos from our week!

Snuggling with Kate and Meg while watching fireworks

Exploring a nearby town

All of the nieces and nephews

Group photo!

After our 3-pitch Seneca Rocks climb

Touring Luray Caverns

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No place to call home...

It's official. Two weeks ago, we moved out of our apartment and into a nomadic life. We packed the essential items into our car, and the rest of the things we kept (and did not sell) are in permanent storage in a friend's basement. We are unemployed, homeless and wandering!

To be honest, I was pretty nervous about this transition as it drew closer. I have never experienced such a life of transition and this will be a very new experience in our marriage, no longer have a place of our own. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to see many friends and family, and I enjoy having a flexible schedule. However, I know that this year of preparation for Austria will be challenging. I know that I will miss having a home and having the privacy we had before. I will probably get tired of sleeping in other people's beds and living out of a suitcase. I will miss having consistency and normalcy. I will miss having my own kitchen and a stocked pantry to cook from. And I will be challenged as I depend on others more than I ever have as an adult, accepting generosity that will surely make me uncomfortable at times (and already has).

I know this year will be hard, but there is no way I can predict how it will be hard. So how do I prepare to face these challenges, when they are so unknown?

I know I need to pray and seek the Lord fervently as I prepare and begin this new lifestyle. He does not change and will be our constant during all this transition. But that is easier said than done.

If you are reading this, please pray for us as we venture into this new life!

How do you prepare for difficult times you know are ahead?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's time to celebrate!

We are excited to share that...  we've hit a big milestone in our financial support! 

Photo credit: nasirkhan from

Yesterday, we received several new financial commitments towards our ministry in Austria and...

we have passed the 25% mark!

We are officially at 28.5% of our support. We are so thankful for all of the friends, families and churches that have partnered with us financially thus far. We are trusting that God will continue to raise up a great team of prayer and financial partners, allowing us to head to Austria in 2012. Praise God for his provision!

We decided early on in this process that we would celebrate each milestone along the way, at 25, 50 and 75%. Partner development (or support raising) can be a long and sometimes discouraging process. It is important for us to celebrate along the way and focus on God's provision, continually being encouraged. We haven't decided how to celebrate yet...but feel free to make recommendations!