Thank You Card
A year to the day, we were presented to our American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago colleagues, friends, brothers and sisters at the annual gathering as newly American Baptist International Ministries Endorsed Missionaries to France. Same way, we were distinguished as France New Missionaries at the 2015 World Mission Conference at Green Lake.
As of today, we are proud and blessed to announce that, with the help of new supporters and God’s grace, we’re one big step closer to our call in France. We reached a 25% milestone of our personalized support goal (PSG) and have become APPOINTED Missionaries to France.
Recalling the Jimmy John’s TV commercial, the old man would ask, “What took you so long?” Well, we’d say, there was a bit of a spiritual “traffic jam,” and network-building “traffic congestion.”
Let me take you back to our first days in preparation with International Ministries. I remember telling the IM Development staff that fundraising was not our thing. They encouraged us and provided all the books and training we needed to become successful at fundraising. We met for training and preparation with other new missionaries. Still, “fundraising was not our thing,” we said repeatedly.
After facing the reality that fundraising is a must, we understood that we are called to a ministry of fundraising before a missional ministry to France. At the end of our missionary orientation, we said to one another like Isaiah in Isaiah 6 -- “Woe to us! We are doomed! We are unskilled people, called to raise fund in a time of financial crisis.” We then turned to God wholeheartedly with prayers, asking God give us courage, to move hearts, to make the “mission impossible,” possible. Our hearts were ready as prayers were being fired up; still we struggled to accept our new reality.
With more prayers and words of encouragement from many of you, our hearts were saying, “You could do it!” But in our mind we still had doubts. “Who are we, that we should go to God’s churches and individuals and take their money to invest into God’s kingdom?” (Exodus 2:24.) After all, we are only a young couple, born and raised in Africa, naturalized US citizens, members of ABC Ministers Council with only a few relationships with folks from our region. The anxious prayer of Jeremiah resonated with us – “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth’” (Jeremiah 1:6.) We do not speak English fluently, and we do not possess that “natural” fundraisers’ attitude.
At the end of the tunnel of doubts, and beyond the cloud of hesitations, God says, “Do not say, ‘we are only…’ You must go to every church and every individual I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid” (Jeremiah 1:7-8.) God promises “I will be with you, and this will be the sign,” that you will reach French immigrants with the compassion of Christ, and many French with the word of God. (Exodus 2:12.) “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified; for I will be with you wherever you go to share your calling” (Joshua 1:6-9.)
As we started sharing, we received our first pledged donation from a fellow International Ministries missionary couple. What a blessing for a new missionary couple to be supported by an experienced missionary couple! God continues to sustain us in surprising ways.
We must confess that the journey is not easy. But our minds and hearts are no longer split, and we are maturing in raising the support we need. Like my friend, colleague, and pledged supporter, the Rev. Keith Cerk of First Baptist Church of Waukegan said to us in an email, “it looks like this will be a journey of walking by faith, not by sight.”
Now that we have reached 25% of our PSG and aiming at the remaining 75%, thanks to your spirit-filled prayers and your generous financial support, “may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you” we pray. Amen.