Tuesday, December 20, 2011
One Year in Aggieland: Living on Support
Sunday the 18th marked our one year anniversary of being here in College Station! You can read James' post about how we got here on his blog, here. Reaching this milestone has made me a bit reflective on what it has meant for us so far, being one year in to living our church-planting dream. Over this week, I'm blogging about some of the lessons we've learned and the ways that we've grown during our time here. God is (as always) on the move, and I want to document some of what He's done and is doing in our lives.
Today I want to talk about the journey that is living on support. Just to summarize what I'm talking about by answering some of the more commonly asked questions: we are employed by a church that's about 70% college students. As it grows, the hope is that the pastoral staff would be paid a salary by the church that's enough to live on. Currently, we receive a small stipend that's gradually increasing (hooray!), but it is not enough to live on yet, so we raise support by asking friends and family to pledge a monthly amount, like missionaries living overseas, except that we live in the US! Our work IS a full time job! James alone puts in about 50 hours a week, and I've honestly never counted mine...probably about 10-15, plus raising a future world changer and preparing our home to be used for ministry. We count our jobs as a privilege and really enjoy serving God in this capacity!
How it works: We are blessed to be a part of an amazing organization, the Antioch International Movement of Churches (used to be AMI...I guess now we're AIMC?). As we meet with people and they pledge monthly amounts or give one-time amounts, it goes through home base (in Waco) where an awesome accountant handles all of it! We get paid twice a month, just like a normal paycheck, but we have the added blessing of knowing that so many individuals (around 60 each month) are partnering with us! How's that for encouraging?
Where we are: Our numbers are constantly changing! We are currently at 97.72% of our monthly budget, which is awesome! Only two months ago, we were at 91%-what a big change! We have people who give to us in large and in small amounts. Every one of these gifts is precious to us, because we know that people are often giving out of their own need. When someone gives to us, it feels like they're saying, "We believe in what you're doing and want to be part of making it happen." It's AWESOME! The reason our numbers change a lot is just because life happens. Some people support us for a season and then, for a variety of reasons, need to end their support. Others see our newsletter updates (want to sign up to receive these emails? Click here) and decide they want to see our % go up, so they give more or sign up to give regularly. In addition to these monthly gifts, when people give us a one-time amount, it goes into our account at AIMC and makes up the difference of what's lacking in our monthly support. So, get this-in our time living on support, we have NEVER ONCE received a paycheck less than 100% of our monthly need! Isn't God kind? And sometimes really awesome random cool stuff happens. Like this.
What I've learned: Living on support is such an adventure. Starting out, I wasn't at all sure if I'd be in panic mode all the time (I can't make this happen!!) or if I would be able to walk peacefully, living out what I know in my head (that God provides) so that it showed from my heart. Well, at different times I'm in different places about it, but the truth is, God is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to provide for His children! I may not always know where an amount is going to come from when the need is looming, but He always makes a way. Sure, sometimes I'm tempted to wish for something I can't afford-who isn't? But even if we lived on $10,000 more a year, there would probably be things that came up that we couldn't afford! We live in a great home and we eat well and we love our lives. The boundary lines have fallen to me in pleasant places and I lack NO good thing. That is the truth! Plus, it is such a treat to see people partner with us in what we're called to do. It is so humbling that people will entrust their gifts to the Lord to us, that they feel that the difference we're making here, in little (big!) ole Texas is worth their giving. It reflects love and confidence and such a neat understanding of how things work in the Kingdom of God. I should also say, we in NO way feel that if people can't give to us that they don't agree with what we're doing. We've had to say no to people, too, when asked for financial support, and are confident that God will make a way, for us and for them!
Anyway, living on support is a fantastic adventure. We constantly experience the kindness, faithfulness, and provision of the Lord in ways that we might be tempted to miss if we received a regular paycheck from a "normal" job.
And just in case you're wondering, if you want to give to us, you can! You can send a check to AMI at 505 N 20th St Waco, TX 76707 and just attach a sticky note that says it's for the Wises. Or you can email me if you want to give regularly and we'll hook you up with the auto-draft form, if you'd like. No pressure, just wanted to share these details, too!
(James really does a fantastic job with our newsletters! If you don't receive these emails (twice a month) and would like to, click here!)
Other posts in this series: One Year in Aggieland: Changes
One Year in Aggieland: Leadership