Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To give or not to give- to missionaries

Hi friends,

I am checking my shopping list and cupboard to see what we still need for tomorrow. I still don't know if we will have any guests, but I am sure that will work out. I am turning 52 tomorrow and am happy for the almost 11 years out from my first beast cancer. So much to be grateful for- a wonderful family, an incredible ministry, a nice home and food on the table, etc. But I am feeling sad.

I feel like my sharing what it going through my heart right now, so that it may help any of you who are making decisions about missionary support at your church or personally. So that you can consider the implications of that simple line through a budget line item to real people. I have just had to do this with the missions commission at our church here in Spokane, because the church budgets, like everyone else's, are taking a hit. And unfortunately sometimes that hit goes extra hard to the missions budget.

Missionsries are people you don't see everyday, or week, or month. They, by definition, are busy people who have several "worlds" to care for: Their own immediate family, their focus of ministry, their extended family back home, their sending agency, and of course their support base- their prayer and financial life-line to enable them to do their ministry. They usually burn the candle at 3 ends to keep up with all of this. If they weren't committeed and called to this hard work, do you think they would be sacrificing a 'normal' life to do it? But if the financial part dips, it can all come to a halt, as they scramble to find a way to stay in ministry while finding replacement money somewhere else. Imagine doing this from the Middle East or Asia.

Greg and I have always highly valued our support team. These folks bless us and the nations through us, but they also get the reward of participating in exciting global Kingdom of God things through our ministry. It blesses the nations and it blesses them to be playing a vital role in what God is doing on the front lines. Symbiotic- mutually beneficial. We love these friends and churches and thank God for them regularly. (We hope we communicate that adequately to any of you reading this.)

On Monday we learned that one of our main supporting churches decided to discontinue our support at the beginning of this last year. We should have picked up on this sooner, but didn't due to staff shortages and less than optimum dilegence on my part. I have to go looking for information currently- it isn't just given to me. Greg leaves this part to me and I enjoy doing it. Anyway, a string of zeros across the page recently caught my attention. We investigated and discovered this decision.

This has implications in several ways. Since we didn't know, we didn't get to be part of the discussion. It seems like after almost 2 decades of a close connection, including us in the process would have been obvious. There are 100's and 100's of relationships between us and that church. They cared for us in the most excellent ways when I went through my cancer. We cried together and prayed together. They brought us meals and some went with me to chemo. I was active in a breast cancer support group there for 7 years. I helped start the children's missions program there. I wrote several years of month-long missions curriculum for the Sunday School. I did a monthly missions club for for kids for several years. I took a large role in helping to plan mission conferences. I taught children's leaders how to teach missions. We lead support groups, took leadership roles in the missions committee, Greg on the exec. team, and lead a short term mission trip to Central America with 28 people.

When our ministry with Caleb Project came to a close, this church also cared for us most excellently. So many ways caring was expressed as we grieved and made decisions for what to do next. So practical and so loving and caring and generous.

So now...this discovery of a severed connection. A line through a name- our name- on a list when it was time to make the tightening budget work. When you have to make these decisions, can I beg you to not only think about your personal connection to that missionary, but to the connection they have to the church? The relationships. Their history. Their involvement. Their commitment to you as a church. Their dependence and value of you being on their team. The deeper these are, the more necessary it is to communicate with them about these decisions. Please let them be part of the process.

Did you commission them and send them out from your body? By severing ties, isn't this the equalivilant of walking out of a covenant relationship without warning? Like 'dumping' someone when you are a teenager?

We never got to say a proper thank you. That is really sad. For a church to have blessed missionaries like we were blessed and cared for by this church, we would like the opportunity to properly thank them for all they have meant to us. Instead I am left feeling sad that I didn't get to express gratitude. To be fair I was told that "in every way but financially you are still considered missionaries of the church." We are still being prayed for by the leadership team. I think we have been adopted by a large Sunday School class and I am supposed to do a presentation there in Feb. Do we still invest effort and time in visiting and fullfilling our part of the missionary role with that church? How can we afford to? We now also have to figure out how to replace the gap in funds. I could have been working on this all year if I had been more careful and obvservant.

Any funds that don't come into our account to pay Greg's salary come out of the minstry's general budget and are literally not able to go to our partners overseas for their amazing and strategic ministries. We have an agreement with Partners to cover at least 2/3's of Greg's salary. We are around $10,000 short. I feel like it is my fault for not paying closer attention. Greg is telling me that God will provide, and my Bible is doing the same, and I know that is true. But I have to tell you that my connections to my newly found brothers and sisters in our partner ministries in the 10/40 Window is making this very gut-wrenching for me. I believe in what they are doing with my whole heart. I feel like I am letting them down.

The physical therapy to disabled children being lead by Ubaldo in Morrocco, the children being rescued out of human trafficing by Anita in India, the outreach and over 140 new Achenese believers in Indonesia through my sister there, food for the women in the witches' camp in northern Ghana who have just come to Christ- who I personally got to hug this summer... I could go on and on and on. There is so much to help them do. Well, I need to dry up my tears and get ready for Thanksgiving. There is much that is happening through our partners that I can be thankful for. Sorry for dumping. Just give when you can to the things on your heart everyone else had decreased giving to, and don't forget those you don't see every day.

Learning trust and understaning in all of this- Nancy Fritz

P.S. If you want to give to Partners International you can at our website, but I am NOT intending to guilt anyone. I mean that.

1 comment:

Jorge Rivero said...

Hi Mrs Fritz. Let me start by saying that I love Partners, you and your heart. It is my prayer right this second as I write this that you may find the comfort and peace you desire. I think it would be such a fantastic, self-less effort if you could still make it to this church in February, and thank them and share with them, and I know your heart would lead you to if the means were there, but if they aren't, I pray that God would give you the peace you need to move on.

I think what you expressed about missionaries, and the need for all of us to remember we are real people, is a blessing. This circumstance in itself leading you to write this has blessed me as I'm sure many others already. HE will see you through this.

Happy Thanksgiving+Birthday. I pray we cross paths again some day.

Jorge Rivero