Monday, July 27, 2015

Some Straight Talk About Money

"We're missionaries, so we're always asking for money."
That's pretty much a true statement - but I wonder if people realize why that is the case. Today, I thought I'd lay it out for you. Feel free to ask questions on this topic, in the comments, if you have them.

Everything we do costs money. Import a container of food - that requires thousands of dollars. Hold a pastor training conference (which involves renting a venue, and housing and feeding the impoverished pastors who cannot pay for this) - that also costs thousands of dollars. How about helping pastors acquire motorcycles and horses? Of course that has to be paid for! Help a congregation construct a building, when their group becomes too large to meet in any of the houses in their village? The hardware and construction supply stores expect us to pay for those materials! Drive to a feeding center to take pictures for the blog? That definitely costs a good bit in fuel, but on the roads in these mountains every trip we take incurs at least some level of damage or major wear-and-tear on our vehicles, and this adds up to a significant, regular expense in our budget! 

We also have to live here, while we do work which earns us no income, and that requires money, too. Allen and I have made it our goal to earn our own keep, rather than using donated funds for this purpose - which means that every year, while he's in the US doing fundraising, Allen also takes a few paying jobs. The cost for us to live in Honduras is much lower than the cost of living in the US, so in a few weeks Allen can earn enough for us to pay our own way. This year, he's refurbishing docks in Florida. In past years he has refinished kitchens, built decks, and done other types of construction work.

We are fairly unique in this, though. The majority of missionaries have to raise the funds to feed and house themselves and their families (and buy clothing and educate their children and purchase medical care, etc ). The other missionaries in our team all have to raise these funds - that's Russell and Iris, and also Clay and Cynthia. (Rachel's situation is also a bit unusual, because her husband has a non-missionary, paying job. As it is a Honduran military job, and his salary is barely enough to cover their most basic needs, she has to raise a part of their living expenses, in order to work as a missionary. Otherwise, she would have to take a regular paying job, to help earn enough for them to live.) All of these young people have one thing in common, though - they aren't raising thousands and thousands of dollars MORE than what they need just to live here.

What this means is that Allen and I are still the primary fundraisers for the ministry work of this group of missionaries. Every year, when Allen visits the US, he speaks to everyone who will listen about the work we are doing, and he bluntly asks people to help us by giving money. When I write about our ministries on the blog, I have to do my part of the fund-raising, by reminding people that we can't continue these ministries without donations, and by giving the info on how to donate. 

We're here. We know the area, we know the people, we know the needs . . . in some cases, we already have programs in place to help resolve at least some of those needs. But money is required, to implement any of those programs. Realistically - we need large amounts of money, to continue the programs which we are currently running.

And yet, times are tight. Prices for everything are continually on the rise (in the US and here), and many people are earning the same amount, or less, than they did a few years ago. When people in the US are squeezed financially, they have no choice but to limit their discretionary spending - and giving to missionaries can sometimes be one of the things they regretfully have to discontinue. Missionaries around the world are having to make painful decisions about whether or not they will be able to continue working abroad. It's a difficult time.

However, difficult times often spawn creative solutions. Allen and I have implemented a number of money-saving systems - so that we no longer have to pay certain monthly expenses, like rent and electricity. Currently, we are in the process of using the land we own debt-free to produce an income, by planting coffee  . . . with the hope and expectation that, in just a few years, the profit from that effort will be money which will fund some part of the future ministry work, on an ongoing basis.

Coffee beans on one of the plants we started just last year.
This is sooner than expected, and a sign that the plants are thriving!

Even before the economic situation tightened, Allen and I have always made it a personal goal to use donated funds as efficiently and carefully as possible. This has made it possible for us to continue to minister in a large way, even during financially difficult times.

If you have been involved in this ministry, financially - we heartily thank you for that! If you'd like to get involved, the information below tells how to donate in the US or in Canada:

In the United States
To Donate by Mail, send checks to:

The Foundation for Missions
PO Box 560233
Orlando, Florida 32856-0233

- Make check payable to "The Foundation" -
- Be sure to write "preferenced for Sowers Ministry" on an enclosed paper -

To Donate Online:

     Click on THIS LINK to donate online using credit card, debit card, or automatic monthly donations from your bank account. Make sure that you choose "Missionary Support" from the drop down menu, and type in "Sowers Ministry" in the box requesting "additional specifics on how to use the gift."

If additional instructions or information are needed for donating online,
please don't hesitate to call The Foundation for Missions, at 407-730-3364 

In Canada

To Donate by Mail, send checks to:

David Griggs
Foundation for Missions
17-7000 Mcleod Rd. #164 
Niagara Falls, ON L2G 7K3

For more Information call: Tel/fax: 289-723-2623

1 comment:

Laurie Matherne said...

Trish, I have been reading your posts here for a number of years. Either I forgot or I didn't know that your husband earned income in the US as well as doing all that he does in Honduras. From your writings, I can glean you and your husband are frugal. As far as asking for money, I believe you ask less than most, or at least I don't notice it! I know far too many who live in fancy homes in the capital or nice cities in Latin America and do little work. They live like wealthy folks because they have middle-class incomes by US standards. I have visited families in compounds, on large estates, with multiple servants and even a driver or two, that then complain in newsletters about needing more money as they are cutting back on food and basic needs for the poor. Those people give the ones like you a bad image, and so, people naturally cut missionary giving. I apologize for the greedy shepherds. I apologize for those who don't take care of the poor but rather themselves. I pray God enriches you with true riches, not just dollars, but yes, money, too. Blessings, Laurie