Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is a volunteer movement, meaning no single member within the organization receives a salary. This has enabled rapid growth and requires that all staff members and ministries partner closely with other believers and church bodies to fund their work.
There is often confusion and reluctance, particularly in the Western Church, regarding support and fundraising for missions. We, too, struggled with this aspect of ministry when considering YWAM, one of many organizations (including Wycliffe, Campus Crusade, Navigators and The Jesus Film Project) which require its staff to raise personal support. Because of this, we set aside time to study scripture, as well as other works written by missionaries who have chosen this method, to come to our own conclusions. In doing so, we discovered three primary reasons why raising support is the most beneficial for us as a couple and our ministry with YWAM.
1. Fundraising is Supported in Scripture*
One of the most frequent examples of tithing to a ‘work of the Lord’ in the Old Testament is in regards to the Levites. In 2 Chronicles 31:4 God asks the Israelites to give regular offerings to the Levites “so they could devote themselves fully to the law of the Lord.” Interestingly enough the Levites were exempt from receiving any inheritance or land (personal means of income). This is because their needs were to be taken care of by the entire population while they worked in the temple (Numbers 18:21-24). Nehemiah later discovers that these gifts were not being given, and as a result, “they (the Levites) and the singers who were to conduct the worship services had all returned to work their fields (Nehemiah 13:10).” Working in the fields kept the Levites and the worshipers from being able to “devote themselves entirely” to God’s work.
In the New Testament we find abundant examples of God’s word beings spread by those who go, as well as by those who send. Jesus himself “relied” on outside support for his ministry. Luke 8:1-3 tells us, “Not long afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby cities and villages to announce that Good News…He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women he had healed…among them were Mary Magdalene…Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.” Jesus also encourages his disciples to welcome hospitality from friends and strangers alike as they travel (Matt 10:5-15).
Ultimately Paul becomes the largest advocate found in scripture for fundraising. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14-15a)” Paul himself asked for support for his own ministry from churches that he had planted (1 Corinthians 16:6) as well as from churches that he had not yet met (Romans 15:23-24). When writing to the Corinthian Church he writes, “whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?”
John encourages believers to support other members of the body, even though they are strangers. In 1 John he writes, “Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth (1 John 1:5-8).”
2. Fundraising Expands Relationships and the Kingdom
Although fundraising seems to be an acceptable method in scripture, most missionaries say that the greatest benefit is the relationships that spring from it. Hopefully as we share our stories with you, you will, in turn, share your lives with us. We are confident that as we seek to encourage you in your faith, you will also strengthen and encourage us. This is expressed by Betty Barnett, author of Friendship Raising when she wrote,”The kingdom of God, made up of followers and servants of the King, focuses us away from the world’s value system toward a godly development of friendships. Our needs are met as a by-product, not as the goal.”
Fundraising encourages a network of intercessors. As we raise funds, we are also focused on raising serious and dedicated prayer support. We are agreed that our ministry cannot succeed without continual prayer. Please consider committing yourself to prayer for us as a couple and for our ministry. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
3. Fundraising Allows for Complete Focus on the Field
Finally, fundraising allows for complete focus on the field. Being fully supported in ministry allows missionaries the freedom to spend working hours completely devoted to their work on the field. Attempting to work full time as well as pour into missions work is extremely difficult and draining. Although there may be seasons when this is necessary, we hope that through fundraising we will be able to pour 100% of our time and energy into inner city Houston.
*Additional Scriptures for further study: 1 Corinthians 9:1-18; 16:6, 2 Corinthians 1:16; 8:2,3; 12:13, Romans 15:20-24, Luke 8:1-3; 21:1-4, Galatians 6:6, Matt 10:5-15; 6:21, Acts 11:27-30; 10:2-4, 2 Chron. 24:4-14, 1 Kings 17:1-16, Galatians 6:6,