By: Corey Park
A number of years ago, Izzy* chose to follow God’s calling to our team. She was a missionary force to be reckoned with. As a student, she regularly would see students from her shared Latino heritage come to know Jesus. However, she came from a low-income family and background, was first generation college, and had very few MPD resources. She spent the whole summer sitting at our dining room table, making call after call, faithfully trusting the Lord to provide for her support.
Although advocacy was a relatively new concept, my husband and I wanted to come alongside her in her journey. Even as we felt that desire, we also were feeling the pressure—we needed to raise support, too.
We had an appointment that summer with one of our ministry partners, who had been giving significantly to our ministry. We shared Izzy’s story with her. With a deep breath and a step of faith, we asked her to join Izzy’s team. I will never forget her response: “Well, I was going to increase my support for you by $50/month, but if you’d rather, I will gladly support Izzy.”
As I responded with gratitude, thanking her for her willingness to join Izzy’s team, there was an internal battle going on with the Lord. I wanted to be generous. I wanted to hold my support and my partners with an open hand, but the fear of scarcity was real. I felt Him asking me: “Corey, do you really believe I’m the God of abundance? Do you really believe I will provide for both you and her?”
Throughout the Biblical Narrative, we see God’s provision for His people expressed time and time again–manna and quail in the wilderness, provision for the Levites, the gifts from the King to Nehemiah to rebuild the city, provision for Paul and his fellow missionaries, etc. But what we often miss is how often that provision is corporate rather than individual. In all of these situations, the Lord used his infinite, abundant resources to provide for a community, not one person at a time. In some of these narratives, there is a clear ask from a leader, in others we don’t get to hear the ask. But what I do observe and love about these stories is the way communal love and care is expressed. It’s not about the ministry of one; it’s about what God can do through us as a community, as a body of believers.
Ultimately it comes down to how much I believe in that provision from the Lord. Do I hoard the manna, fearing that the following day it won’t come again, only to see it spoil? Or do I trust my Father to provide each day, following His command? Do I believe in God’s provision enough to be generous to those around me, or do I hold tightly to every resource I have?
In our organizations, we are family. And we hope that in many ways, we are a family of missionaries serving together across ministry and denominational lines. If you are my sister, and you are suffering because of low support, it impacts me. There is a ministry that you, my sister, are called to do, and without your contribution, our ministry will suffer. I will suffer.
So practically, what does that look like? How can I respond to a call for advocacy? I would love to invite you to ponder this simple but profound question:
“How might God call me to be part of someone else’s MPD journey?”
If you asked Izzy about our advocacy on her behalf, she would tell you that the gift of working on MPD at our kitchen table was a far greater form of advocacy than the money we helped her raise. However for me, asking our supporter to join her team was a far greater step of faith. The Lord was calling us to do both, and in challenging us to do so, God provided for Izzy’s support and provided for my growth.
Perhaps you have an old vehicle you could loan someone during MPD, so they can drive to appointments. Perhaps you can commit to praying for someone daily, or texting them weekly during MPD to check in. Perhaps as a mom at home with the kids, you would love to offer your kitchen table to a young missionary seeking funding for the first time. And perhaps, the Lord is calling you to begin viewing your financial support, your partners, with more of an open hand.
When we do MPD, we talk about discipling the church toward generosity and sacrificial giving. As I think about the journey the Lord has taken me on, nothing has stretched me or discipled my heart in this area more than advocacy.
Advocacy has increased my trust in the Lord, my dependence on Him, and my faith in His provision. There is something that happens in our hearts when we lay our treasure on the table. As I continue to press into my own fears and places of striving, I hope the Lord will continue to use advocacy to grow my intimate dependence on Him.