The Hardest Part of Being a Missionary


needle in the hay stack, hand sticking out of hay with needle, caption yeah!

You know it is true…most people avoid ever praying the prayer asking God if they are to be headed to the mission field! Why? God might actually say “YES, GO!”. Do you think that is the hardest part of being a missionary? There is no rock solid evidence or great plethora of research studies to back up this claim, but if you took a poll tomorrow, it is very likely that missionaries would say the hardest part of being a missionary is raising support to be on the field. It is not because missionaries are without faith. Indeed, their lives are full of examples of living by faith. However, the asking for support funds is absolutely one of the most confusing and humbling experiences that a missionary must endure in order to fulfill his/her calling to go to the field.

In this technological age, raising support is not exactly like it used to be. In fact, it is easy to have fear that “the market” will become flooded with so many requests for so many headed out on mission that there will simply not be enough donation dollars to go around. Facebook allows raising for causes for birthdays, gofundme pages pop up all the time, and online giving is so easy to set up!  It can seem like a daunting task to raise funds as just another person out there trying to fund a cause.  Yet, anyone who has raised support for missions knows that to the one who has been called, God shall equip. Hebrews 13:21, Philippians 1:6, and 2 Corinthians 9:8 are among the verses that reassure the called that He who has called will provide necessary resources. At the same time, it might be proposed that finding donor dollars and funding a calling from the Lord is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack!

cartoon of two people looking at a pile of hay saying 'there is a donor in here, we have to find him'


Do you want to ease the burden? There are things that donors, ministry partners, churches, and individual supporters can do to decrease the stress placed on the missionaries for the daunting task before them. Consider these suggestions:

  1. Communicate with the person you are supporting! If the person seeking funds asks you about giving, remember that it was not easy to make that ask. Rejection is better than saying nothing at all, so communicate with the person out of respect for the ask that has been made. Maybe this means returning a communication card. Maybe this means following through on setting up a donation. Maybe it just means sending an email to let them know that you mailed a check. In whatever way that is possible, communicate what you intend to give, when you intend to give, and how you intend to give it. If you must discontinue donations, just communicate that to your missionary.
  2. Don’t avoid! Again, negative news is not as negative as you may perceive it to be. If you feel your donation is not going to be enough, your commitment is not going be able to be fulfilled, or you wish you could do more, the best thing you can do is to make all of that less hidden and be open about it. The person raising support will appreciate your honesty.
  3. Reflect before you respond. If someone has asked you to support something, consider whether you genuinely want to support the person and/or the cause. The person asking for mission funds wants those to give who genuinely want to give. It should be a matter of prayer so that there is peace about the decision made.
  4. Realize you are a treasure. If a person raising support finds you, and you feel called to give, you are a treasure! You are helping this person to live out his/her calling, and you are a partner. You should never feel like you have not done enough or have not given enough. You should be assured that your friend has likely received many rejection notices, so you truly are a treasure and a needle in a haystack that was out there waiting to be found.

cartoon with two people in a hay stack, one found the needle in the hay stack and held it up saying 'I found it' the the other man saying 'congratulations it only took you 65279 seconds'

Kirsten McClain serves as Assistant to the Executive Director for Propempo International. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various resources that Propempo uses to come alongside churches so that they can do missions well.

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