When we’re working for the Church, we hate talking about money. We’d do this for free if we could. We don’t want to be a burden. But everyone has to eat, and if you plan to spend your life as an overseas missionary, you’ll need some funding.
Think about the financial needs and resources of your own parish, diocese and jurisdiction. Who pays the clergy? Who funds parish programs? Who pays the utilities? These funds probably come out of your own pocket, and that of fellow parishioners. Few bishops have the independent wealth to salary their clergy and pay their parishes’ bills.
It won’t surprise you to learn that the bishops also don’t have a pot of money for independently funding missionaries. On the contrary: mission funds are raised by the faithful.
By the time you finish New Candidate Orientation at the mission center, a lot of folks will have already asked how they can help. Some individuals, families and parishes will have already offered support. Now it’s time to call on them.
You’ll write a lot of letters, talk to lots of folks on the phone, and begin arranging meetings. You’ll be invited to speak at parishes and in homes. If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll be terrified, and God will see you through. At first, building an itinerary will be hard work. Eventually, your schedule will start filling up more quickly than you can manage.
Money is important, but as you build your network you’ll soon find that other forms of support matter even more. There will be people who listen to you, who encourage you, and who pray for you. God will sustain you overseas by these prayers. Take them seriously. Work harder at building this network of prayer and love than at clinching that $5,000 grant.
For long-term missionaries, the valuable financial offerings are commitments to regular giving. Over forty years, a $5/ month pledge is worth more than a one-time check for $1,000.
The Orthodox Christian Mission Center will work with you to build a yearly budget, and once your incoming monthly pledges equal your anticipated monthly expenses on the field, you’re just about ready to go.
Just about, but not quite. More on that next time.