By on December 31, 2014   /   19 Comments


I can’t tell you how many times Christian workers have rolled their eyes and blurted out to me, “Steve, you just don’t understand why we can’t raise support in our culture!” If I had a dollar for every time, I could easily buy that Cabela’s trout fishing rod and reel I had been eyeing for Christmas! For more than 15 years now, I’ve had the privilege of training thousands of Christian workers from all over the world, as well as every ethnicity within the U.S. I’ve observed there is a single common denominator with virtually everyone we interact with:

In their own minds, they all have their own unique “reasons” why raising support
and getting fully funded won’t work in their particular setting.

After enduring one of my support raising pep talks, I can easily spot them as they make their way up at a break to challenge me with: “Steve, I appreciate what you’re saying, but…” They might talk about the poverty of their country, or the lack of missions giving in their churches, or the “shame culture” of their people where individuals get embarrassed or offended when asked for money. My friend, I don’t doubt there are tremendous challenges and incomparable features to every culture (God made it that way!), but it seems to me the ones who are really ashamed…are the workers themselves. Ashamed to ask!

When writing the support raising book, The God Ask, I recruited experienced indigenous Christian workers from five continents who have been successful in raising their support. I asked them each to compose an article about the uniqueness and obstacles of raising support in their culture and how they and their staff got fully funded. My plan was to include each article in the appendix of my book. The only problem? When I read the five different pieces…they all said the exact same thing!*

I’d like to draw from those articles, as well as the myriads of conversations I’ve had on this subject, as I share five support-raising principles I believe transcend countries and cultures around the world. You may think I’m naïve or just plain uninformed (about your particular situation!), but try to have an open mind as you read.

1. Human interaction is always the most personal.

God created us in His image and the personal interaction He enjoys with the Godhead is a similar kind of intimacy He wants to have with us—and us with each other. Even though we are fallen, face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball, heart-to-heart interaction is, and always will be, the most effective way to communicate. It was God’s invention, not ours. Let’s not reject or sidestep our Creator’s design for human interaction because it can be intimidating. Ricky Magno, a support trainer for workers in Asia, consistently has trainees “inform” him if a particular approach doesn’t work, when in fact they’ve only tried it 3 to 5 times. He challenges them to “change their attitude and be willing to go outside their comfort zones to achieve success.” Good advice!

2. They want to see and hear your passion.

Missiologists tell us up to 70% of the world’s population are primarily oral learners and get their information through small group and one-on-one stories and conversation. Kafah Nkanjoh Mekwi, a support trainer in French-speaking Africa, affirms this: “Africans are excited to hear about your vision and stories of what God is doing, rather than read materials about it.” He said sharing your story face-to-face is the key to building credibility, so “they will know you are not trying to scam them!” Get in touch with your heart, your calling, and the WHY behind what you are doing. Then let people see and hear that!

3. We have not because we ask not.

James 4:2 is not just for wealthy, white, Americans. No, asking God and others is a major theme of the Bible. It’s mentioned 147 times in the New Testament alone! The idea of actually asking others for support, according to Eugene Simonov, a fundraising trainer in Eastern Europe, was “a revolutionary concept to most, but many workers are taking that step of faith and experiencing tremendous results.” When he and other workers approach others for support, he acknowledges obstacles do arise. He confesses that more times than not “we create them ourselves!”

4. Give people a chance to respond.

Ramesh Gupta, a support trainer in India, keeps extensive statistics how he and his trainees fare in their support appointments. About 50% of the people they ask to give become monthly ministry donors. The model Gupta uses to equip Christian workers is to personally and verbally invite individuals to partner with them, then pause long enough to let the other person answer. He believes we should allow the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts, and our job is simply to “offer people the privilege and opportunity to invest in God’s kingdom”. Ultimately, he concludes, we must “leave the results in the Lord’s hands.” Don’t you think a good question deserves a good answer? If so, once you’ve made the ask, give people a few moments to gather their thoughts and craft a response. Whether you are in India or Indiana, this will always be a way to honor them!

5. Everyone wants to be part of a team.

Why not let them join yours? Regardless of our skin color, language, or socio-economic status, we all are eternal beings, and the author and perfecter of our faith places a God-shaped vacuum in each of our souls, provoking a desire in us that our life should count for something. Consequently, don’t shy away from issuing an invitation to others to get connected to you and your eternal cause. It could forever change them! Armando Tamayo trains Christian workers to raise funds in 23 Latin American countries. He observes most support raisers “start out with an attitude of a beggar”, but through Bible study and discipline “develop a strong conviction that God will provide” and will motivate His people to generously give. Even though many organizations in Latin America are unwilling to train their staff to do personal support raising, Tamayo has seen success, and that “people really do want to give if provided the opportunity.”

At this juncture, you may have concluded I’m either totally blind or heartless, but I truly believe most all our so-called “reasons” we boldly hold forth are really just made-up excuses and self-fulfilling prophecies that serve as defense mechanisms to hide our own fears and self-esteem issues. Yes, we must study and understand the particular culture we are raising support in, but at the same time, let’s rid our minds of the crippling voices we allow to control our thoughts and actions. Don’t let Satan, the world, your flesh, or even other small-minded Christian workers influence or defeat us. Instead, let’s stay focused on the ultimate and everlasting universal principle:

“With God, all things are possible.”


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