Treasuring our Supporters

Whether or not we raise your own financial support, there is a team of people who invest deeply in our ministries through prayer and often finances. Our work is so dependent on this powerful team for its effectiveness. We are here in Finland on a visa trip right now, away from our hands-on ministry to Russians, and one of the things that God has enabled us to do with this time is to invest in praying for and communicating with our supporters and to truly treasure the blessing that they are to us. As I sit here looking at all of these names and pictures, my heart is overwhelmed at how amazing God is to send us out with the support and prayers of so many faithful individuals who have a heart both for our work and our family.  How terrible it would be if we were sent out alone without this powerful support backing us! Could we even survive? With all of the obstacles that we face in ministry and just in life in general, it takes all of about 5 minutes on the field to understand why we are all called to spend significant time raising up a team who will join alongside us in this ministry either in prayer or prayer and finances and why we need to constantly relay our prayer needs back to them.

But, the whole concept of “out of sight out of mind” can so easily have its effect on this partnership from both ends. If we don’t have reminders around us of those who are supporting us from back “home,” we can forget that we are in fact only one part of an entire powerful team doing this work, and if they don’t have ways to remember us, they can forget and stop praying for and partnering in our ministries. I wanted both as an encouragement to you and also to myself to take this post and list some ideas for fostering healthy relationships with our supporters.

Keeping our supporters close to our hearts:

Pray for them! We ask them to pray a ton for our work, and we have the privilege of praying for them as well! We can pray generally, but it is also great to pray specifically, which means that we need to take time to find out specific needs. Here are some ideas to foster more prayer for your support team:

-Have their photos up on your computer screen saver and pray as you see them scroll through throughout the day

-Have a list that you pray thorough systematically. Printing out your newsletter address list is an good and easy way to make sure you don’t miss anyone. You can also break up the list by week and pray through it systematically to make sure you pray for everyone.

-As you pray for your supporters, occasionally write them a post card to tell them that you’ve thought of them and held them up in prayer.

-Follow their blogs and ask people to include you in their Christmas letter mailing. Search for your ministry partners on Facebook.

-As you send out email updates, ask people to respond by sending you one specific prayer request. Compile them and post them up in your house until you send out your next email, and then do the same again.

-If your sending churches send out a prayer chain email, make sure you are on that list so you can pray for the needs of the church and its members.

Helping your supporters keep you and the ministry close to their hearts:

-Send out regular newsletters! So many of us fail in this way, but how can they be praying if they don’t know what our needs are?

-Send postcards or pictures of where you live. Having a visual will help foster prayer.

-Send out family photos or photo magnets.

-Bring back small gifts or souvenirs and ask people to pray as the see them. On our last furlough we brought back Russian coins. They weren’t of much monetary value, but we asked people to put them in a frequently used drawer or on a desk, or somewhere where they would see it often and be reminded to pray.

-Post prayer requests on Facebook. I have noticed that more and more of our supporters are on Facebook these days! I have also seen a number of other missionaries creating groups on Facebook for their supporters. This is a good way to use technology to keep our ministry partners informed and praying.

-Express gratefulness! Of course we should always send thank you notes when we receive financial support and such, but we should express our gratefulness at other times as well for the faithful prayers and encouragement that our supporters invest. This can be done in many different ways, whether it be in newsletters, individual notes, emails, phone calls, by bringing gifts, etc. We need to make sure to express the thankfulness that we feel!

-Utilize a ministry/family blog! The more ways that our supporters have to keep up with what God is doing through their mutual work, the better! Praise God for technology!

-Throw “Thank you” parties when you are on home assignment to appreciate your ministry partners and share about the work they have invested in.
As usual, this list is far from being exhaustive! Please encourage your fellow sisters in Christ with other ideas that you have!


6 Responses to “Treasuring our Supporters”

  1. 1 aliciafox February 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    We write our supporters a hand written thank you once a year. Wish that it could be more, but for now that’s what we can do. We make contact by email more, but for the hand written, once a year. Usually we do it around Christmas time and include an updated family photo or prayer card.

  2. 2 Rachel February 19, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    This is a great post!! Just what I needed to be reminded of. Actually my husband and I have been working in Costa Rica (is is costarican) for almost 5 years. We are doing the paper work right now to get his residency so we can go to the states to live and work. Because of childhood circumstances and my husband being from Costa Rica we do not have a supporting church stateside. We have tried to raise support in Costa Rica as well and it is very hard because of the mindset here of the churches. Because of this we have had to work in his families catering business to be able to stay on the field. Over a year ago that we had to stop that and this past year have really struggled financially. So that is why we are going to the states. We have a almost 2 year old now and need to get out of my husband´s parents house. So while our heart is for ministry we feel that this is what we need to do now because of our financial state we are not even able to do ministry. While we are in the states we plan to visit and try to raise support and will also work and do ministry there with Hispanics and seek God´s will as to what he would have us do after we raise the support and prayer base we need.

    Treasure those relationships because as I have been on the field without them I know how hard it is financially, for prayer support and for the friendships. All are invaluable to ones ministry and without them it does not succeed.

    Do you have any advise about support raising in the states and how to contact people and churches that you don´t know and start forming a relationship with them?

    Also something I have done on newsletter is take stamps from the country I am in( past stamps as well as present) and put them around a sheet of blank paper and make a boarder. Then I photo copied it to make my own stationary.

    I also try to use banana paper or mango paper or coffee paper all of which are recycled and made in Costa Rica. They are regular texture for the ease of writing but have a spotted or patterned look from the fruit used.

    I like to keep my eyes open at markets and souvenir stores for things on sale postcards, paper, bookmarks, individual coffee bags. These are small thank yous that can be sent with a letter. I also do prayer cards with pictures.

    I have a blog where I post about life, my son, ministry, and lots of pictures (family, ministry, open air markets, views from my porch, countryside, holidays, etc.). I also try to post typical recipes that use ingredients you can find in the states so they can make what we eat. Might be a good idea to make these in the states at a thank you party so every one can try them out!!

  3. 3 Rachel February 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    There is a really good book about this.

    Friend Raising
    by Betty Barnett

    Published by Youth With A Mission

  4. 4 Sam February 20, 2010 at 12:29 am

    your prayer touched me. I’m praying! I found this site helpful Check it; maybe it gives you a relief. God bless.

  5. 5 Becky February 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Awesome post. Awesome list. I’ll be writing some emails tonight… 🙂

  6. 6 Kelly February 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Our mission is working with Eric Foley who wrote Coach Your Champions, and works at Mission Increase Foundation.

    His premise is that friend-raising will only get you so far, and that the key is in coaching people into becoming missions active. I’d be happy to share some more- you can also check out his blog:

    We are focusing on equipping people to do missions wherever they are- instead of having them simply fund our mission. And in cases that does mean funding our mission- but not soley. It’s an interesting concept called Transformational Giving.

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