(a cross-post from Jake’s blog Wiser Time)
Not many people get a glimpse into what life is like as a missionary raising support. Melissa and I were talking about some of our funnier moments, so I thought I’d share some with you, gentle reader.
Non-Christians, understandably, do not know Christian lingo, and they come up with funny stuff in its place. (Sometimes theirs is better. Who in the world came up with the phrase “quiet time”?) Yesterday I was explaining our Prague plans to a guy I’d just met, and he said, “So… you’re planning to build a church… for your religion… in Prague.”
That will certainly get worked into 1) our standard support talk and 2) my Facebook status.
Once in a support meeting, a guy who’s known me my whole life asked, with no context or warning, “So what do you think about the Catholics?”
Another person was very disappointed to see a picture in some of our material of an event in Prague where a guy was drinking beer. [Of course, the real story there would have been if there were an event in Prague where there was no beer.] But it was really pretty stupid of me to waltz into the home of a conservative Christian in middle GA and not expect that to happen. The picture has since been scrubbed. (At a later appointment the same day, we enjoyed a glass of wine with the potential supporters. You just never know.)
I do not at all enjoy the formality of going through our presentation and then making an appeal. I would prefer to sit around, have Prague come up, answer questions, casually get everything said that needs to be said, and then have them say “Well, we’d love to support you guys.”
Once we had dinner with some friends for the purpose of talking about support. We’d had the talk, then we drifted to other things, had dessert, and when it was time to start putting kids to bed the guy and his wife exchanged glances and he said “Well, we’re ready for the ask when you guys are.”
I’ve since been much more deliberate and purpose-driven in support meetings.
We always get asked about ministry to internationals vs. ministry to Czechs– e.g. why is it an English-speaking church, will you try to meet Czechs, etc. In the most formal version of our talk, this comes under a section that Melissa handles. But for the first couple of months, she had a really tough time getting a handle on the summary answer, which is that there’s a “two-pronged approach.” Really, any answer that uses the phrase “two-pronged approach” would do. But early on, Melissa tended to stumble over that point and be less than clear. In one presentation at a church, she basically gave the impression that we could care less about the souls of Czechs and probably wouldn’t walk across the street to share the Gospel with them. She was temporarily relieved of her duties where that question was concerned.
More to come, I’m sure. Thank goodness it’s God moving through his people, not our mad social skills, that brings in the provision we need!