We’d never had to ask anyone for money. Tom had been working as a teacher for 8 years. Nerys was a community mental health nurse. We were comfortable financially. We’d saved up for a mortgage and bought a house. We enjoyed being able to give to church and other ministries without having to worry, and we loved having enough to go on holiday during the summer.
That was 2015, and if I’m honest, I felt a lot of pride about our financial security and independence.
Then, I left work to study theology in preparation for mission in Thailand. I didn’t qualify for a student loan, so in addition to not having an income, we’d need to find £8000 a year in fees. It was pretty humbling asking friends and family to help. In fact, if I’m honest I absolutely hated it. But letters were written, prayers were prayed, God provided and we managed. We made sacrifices, but we never got to the end of the month and wondered how we were going to survive.
The following year, Nerys left her job so that she had more time for her post-grad course in Integrative Counselling (again, part of our preparation for Thailand). We found ourselves with less income but more fees … and we weren’t even in Thailand yet! We found part time jobs, wrote more letters, prayed more prayers, and again God graciously provided.
I felt so guilty every time…but amazingly people seemed to be grateful we’d come to share and actually wanted to support the work.
During my third year we started raising money for Thailand. We’d go along to a church, Nerys would share about the ministry, I’d preach (usually on Rahab) and then we’d ask a church of strangers to give us money, making as little eye contact as possible!
I lost count of how many churches we visited. I felt so guilty every time, like we were just using them for cash. But amazingly, people seemed to be grateful we’d come to share and actually wanted to support the work.
A wise friend encouraged us to remember that we are asking people to partner with us in the work God has given us to do.
We’ve been in Thailand for two years now and honestly, we still struggle to know how best to use our allowance. We still feel guilty if we eat out on a special occasion. We find it hard to balance ministry money and funds for the occasional weekend break from Pattaya. However, we know our supporters wouldn’t begrudge us from taking care of ourselves, as this ultimately energises and fuels us to carry on through the stresses of cross-cultural work.
A wise friend encouraged us to remember that we are asking people to partner with us in the work God has given us to do. We don’t need to be embarrassed when we share our heart and motivate the hearts of others to give.
We want people to partner with us and know that they are giving financially so that the women we work with in Thailand might come to know and love Jesus. We’re grateful that God, through our supporters, has made that possible.