What happens when you’re not looking

  • June 5, 2014 4:03 pm

It is 4.30am and we’re sound asleep in a strange bed, in a strange room, in a strange country. Suddenly the phone rings. We sit bolt upright, hearts pounding and minds somewhere between confused and alert. Where are we? What’s happening? Why is the phone ringing? After a second or two our heads are clear enough to answer the phone. It is kids in the same hotel messing around and calling random room numbers!

Then we remember; we hadn’t actually been asleep that long. Until about 2.30am the same teenagers had been running up and down the corridor, laughing, shouting and generally ensuring that sleep wasn’t an option.

At 9am I was due to give the first of the main Bible messages for a week-long forum about personal support-raising for mission, hosted by Agape Europe with other 60 participants from 13 countries, and I needed to get up early to do some final preparation. So, with eyes and mind both a bit bleary I worked through the talk before breakfast; after a few cups of coffee I was as ready as I could be. Thankfully, in spite of the lack of sleep, the talk seemed to go well.
After some strong encouragement by the hotel management to the adult leaders of the teenagers, the noise levels were much less the following nights and we got reasonable sleep the rest of the week.

The forum was great with lots of creative discussion and interaction. We were directly involved in leading 10 sessions during the week and indirectly involved in almost all the other sessions. We also had individual appointments planned for every break and meal time so we ended up with 14 hour days all week. At the end we were very tired and very encouraged. And also thankful for the improved sleep after the first night!

As for the teenagers, we didn’t see much of them all week. They sat at assigned tables at mealtimes and were out all day as part of their planned youth trip. So long as they didn’t keep us awake too much at night we didn’t really give them much more thought.

We left for the airport on the Saturday morning but one of the Agape leaders who was leaving later got talking with some of the teenagers who were also leaving that day. Turned out they were French-speaking Belgians and a few of them were interested enough in what he had to say about the gospel to get a discussion started. One of the girls was especially keen to learn more and, after an explanation of what it meant to make a faith commitment to Jesus, she did exactly that – asked Jesus to forgive her sins and to take over her life!

What a way to end the forum! And a great lesson to us not to be so focussed on the structures around the work of God’s kingdom that we miss the opportunities right in front of us to see his Kingdom extended.
Our prayer is for that girl in the lobby and for us: that we will never lose sight of why we do what we do so that people like that teenager will come into a living relationship with Christ and become part of God’s reflected glory to the world.

Any other aim is too low.

Wearing St Paul’s Shoes

  • November 18, 2013 1:30 pm

Ever wondered what St Paul looked like? Well, here he is – with his wife. Ok, maybe it isn’t exactly St Paul, but it’s close enoughLike St Paul, Sotiris and Katerina are committed to telling people in Thessaloniki about Jesus. Like St Paul, they came to the city from another part of Greece. Katerina is from close to Philippi, where Paul was before he came to Thessaloniki; Sotiris is from further south in Greece. Like St Paul, they have seen some good encouragement from their evangelism – and some hostility.
And, like St Paul, they face the challenge of finding the resources they need to keep preaching the gospel full time in the city. In St Paul’s case he was supported by a church in Philippi, but it wasn’t enough to meet all his needs. Sotiris and Katerina are also supported by a church near Philippi, as well as a few other churches and friends. But it isn’t enough to meet their needs.
I was in Thessaloniki with the Agape Greece staff team, helping them overcome their fears and concerns about living by the support of others as they are involved in evangelism and discipleship in Greece today.
A combination of a melt-down in the Greek economy, a very small evangelical community, a dominant and state-funded Orthodox church, little history of Greeks supporting their own missionaries and negative responses in the past had left the team discouraged about the possibility of finding the support they need.
This team works hard, telling people about Jesus in a range of creative ways. But at the end of the month there often isn’t enough support for them to pay their bills and a glib response like “don’t worry, God will provide” isn’t helpful.
We spent the week exploring a range of Biblical principles about giving and receiving, talking through their fears, praying together and discussing the best way for them to approach people for support in their culture. After I left another couple continued the work of helping each person develop an individual plan for how they could build a team of local supporters.
There’s still a long way to go, but there are encouraging signs. After the two weeks the team had talked to around two dozen individuals and churches about the possibility of joining their support team and they had received positive responses from most of them.
The synagogue where St Paul preached is now part of an Orthodox monastery. The photo of Sotiris and Katerina was taken at the front of the original synagogue.
The monks have preserved the spot where people stood to teach in the synagogue – it is where the stone circle is, just in front of the lectern in this photo. As I stood there, thanking God for the faithfulness of the evangelist 2000 years ago and the evangelists standing in the same place today, it was such a privilege to be part of the long line of history. Not just in theory, but in the reality of a real place. Enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

A quick way to raise a lot of money for your ministry?

  • June 6, 2012 9:44 am

For no reason other than idle curiosity, now and again I check Amazon and ebay to see if any used copies of Funding the Family Business come up for sale. With close to 5,000 copies sold so far it was just a matter of time before somebody decided to off-load their copy. And after six years it has happened. The following appeared recently on Amazon:

Funding the Family Business: The Handbook for Raising Personal Support by Myles Wilson (Paperback – Jul 2006) – Import
1 used from $318.48

$318.48 for a used copy of Funding the Family Business? Now that’s some profit!

If this is correct, why don’t you buy 500 copies and offer them on Amazon at just $250 each, undercutting the current seller to make sure that yours sell first? That would give you over £73,000 profit at today’s exchange rates and almost £3,000 more if you qualify for the discount purchase price of £10. That should be enough to fund your ministry for a few years.

BUT, on the off-chance that the $318.48 on Amazon is a mistake, it might be a better idea to buy just one copy, read it and put it into practice. That could well lead to you having enough to fund your ministry for a whole lifetime. And you wouldn’t have to put up with boxes of books piled up all over your home until they sell – which I’m guessing might take a very long time at that price!

Spot the difference

  • July 26, 2011 10:13 am

So far this year I’ve led personal support seminars in England, Germany, Czech Republic, USA, Peru, Mexico and Tanzania. At the start of each seminar I ask people to write down issues that make living on support a challenge for them.

What is interesting is that around 80% of the responses in each case are the same, irrespective of the country.
So what issues do they have in common? With some variations in wording, these are the points that consistently appear:

• The church in our country doesn’t have a vision for mission
• In our culture we don’t talk about money
• I don’t like asking
• I don’t know how to raise support
• It feels like begging

What does this tell us?

• Support raising is a spiritual ministry and, as such, is opposed to any culture.
• It is more blessed to give than to receive, therefore it is less blessed to receive than to give. Missionaries often look at support raising from the receiver’s perspective, so they assume that there is little or no blessing in the process.
• How someone feels about raising support will determine what they do.
• People aren’t usually naturally gifted at support raising, so it is vital that they get the teaching, training and mentoring they need.

Yes, each individual is a uniquely created by God. But in the issues we face about living on a support basis we have more in common than we realise.

Peru Update

  • May 13, 2011 5:28 pm

Peru seminar - group photo

We have it easy.

Thanks for your prayers for the support seminar in Peru. There were over 40 in total, mostly from Peru but a few from other Latin American countries. They came from 15 different mission organisations and spanned an age scale from 20 years of age to 81!
It was humbling to hear their stories. One couple had travelled 28 hours in a boat up the Amazon from their jungle village to get to a town where they could fly to Lima, and then another two hours by bus to get to the retreat centre where we held the seminar. They have a passion for a tribe in Brazil, hundreds of miles further along the Amazon, whose language is similar to theirs. Sometime in the next few months they plan to move to live with this tribe, bringing their six children with them. They have almost nothing themselves and their total commitment to mission is outstanding. But they recognise their need to build a financial and prayer support base before they move to Brazil, far from the family support structures that they can rely on in their home village. Mission really is a sacrifice for them.

And their story, with variations, could be repeated time and time again from those we met at the seminar.

Meanwhile we fly in, get picked up at the airport, sleep in a mission guesthouse for a couple of days, get driven to the retreat centre and then brought back to the airport at the end. Arriving home, we sleep in comfortable beds, have warm showers, wash our clothes in a washing machine, drive to the shops to buy some food and watch a bit of sport on television.

Like I say, we have it easy.

Pray for the emerging world of mission, where people often leave one form of relative poverty to bring God’s love to another version of poverty. It truly is humbling to be in the presence of these Princes and Princesses in God’s Kingdom.

Prayer for Peru Seminar

  • May 3, 2011 11:39 am

Right now (2-5 May) we’re in Peru for a support seminar organised by Wycliffe Bible Translators . 45 people have signed up and there is a waiting list! Please pray that the seminar will help a new generation of Peruvians find the support they need to get involved in Christian ministry.

News of more training

  • May 3, 2011 11:34 am

A couple of special personal support training opportunities coming up soon: 22-24 May is a Trainers’ Training to help people who have already gone through a Funding the Family Business or similar basic support seminar and who want to learn how to train others. Then on 24-27 May, a Basic Support Seminar based around the Funding the Family Business concepts for people wanting to learn how to raise support. They will both be held at the Wycliffe Germany Centre, north of Frankfurt, and will be conducted in English. For more info use the Contact Myles tag on the website home page to email me and I’ll get back to you.

Welcome to Funding the Family Business

  • April 5, 2011 5:00 pm

Welcome to the Funding the Family Business blog. If you’re reading this I guess you already raise support yourself, or you are considering it as an option. If you already have a copy of Funding the Family Business I hope it has helped you get to grips with the Biblical and practical implications of living on support. If not, today would be a good day to order your copy!

Raising support isn’t really about money. The end purpose of all that we do is to reflect God’s glory to others. Raising support is just a means towards that end. So as you communicate with existing supporters and contact potential supporters, remember, this is all to allow Habakkuk 2:14 be fulfilled: For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

By raising support you are able to follow God’s call to devote your time to introducing people to the knowledge of his glory. You are bringing much needed resources to the task of introducing people to the knowledge of his glory. And you are encouraging your friends to partner with you in introducing people to the knowledge of his glory. Now that’s a privilege!

Through this blog I’d like to get some discussion going about how you view support, what sort of encouragements you’ve had, ideas that have worked for you and so on. I’ll add my thoughts from time to time, but let’s hear from you.

When Paul wrote to his supporters in Philippi, he said how much he appreciated their partnership in the gospel. So, for a start off, what has been the most encouraging thing a supporter has done for you in the past few months that has demonstrated that they are truly a partner with you and not just someone who sends money?

It might be something practical, or perhaps some emotional encouragement, maybe a surprise extra gift, or a visit to see you on location. Whatever it has been, share it with us and let us all rejoice that there are still people who want to be partners in the gospel with us.

To avoid embarrassment to your supporters, don’t add their name to your comments unless they have agreed that you can do so.
Over to you….

Myles Wilson