Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Challenge and Joy of Fundraising

One of the biggest obstacles the team faces as we prepare to minister in Bulgaria is the cost of going. With airfare, ground transportation, lodging and food, the yearly trip represents a $25-30,000 annual investment. Of course, every single one of us believe strongly that it is highly worth it, otherwise we wouldn't be going! However, God's calling to serve in Bulgaria is often accompanied by a real test of faith as individuals seek the means to obey that calling. God has blessed some members of our body with that calling to go and the financial means to do so without concern. For most of the team, though, the expense is a major hurdle. The old maxim, "Where the Lord guides, the Lord provides" is certainly true but becomes personally real to the team member who steps out in faith by signing up to go, then looks at an empty wallet and wonders how.

Over the years, the team has adopted several fundraising methods. The teenagers are all encouraged to write a letter explaining why they are taking the trip and what costs are involved. These letters are then sent to their family and friends. First-time members also share their calling with the church body in a letter as well. Traditionally, these letters account for the most significant funds raised. Another traditional fundraiser has been the yearly yard sale to support the ministry. Many in the church donate items to sell and the team holds the yard sale in the church parking lot on several weekends. This has been well supported by the body with donations and staffing and has also been quite successful as a fundraiser. Additionally, throughout the year the sale of bottled water in the foyer on Sunday mornings supports the ministry and the church's website now features the ability to donate to the cause online.

This year, the team is trying several new things as well. Earlier this year, a circus/daycare was held at the church, giving parents an opportunity to be "kid-free" for a day. The team provided circus-themed enertainment for all the children and everyone had a blast! In May, a neighborhood carnival will be held at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center on Marina Blvd. This outdoor event will feature live entertainment, fun carnival games, and contests and is intended to draw from the surrounding community.

With the economy in decline, we made it a goal this year to focus more of our fundraising efforts on the community outside of our church body. The congregation has always been amazing in their support of this ministry, but in addtion to Bulgaria, they are also seeing fundraising requests from the youth group and childrens ministries along with the expenses incurred by the other ministry activities and events of the church. To that end, we have directed most of our attention to fundraising efforts that spread the need throughout our community. The letters, yard sale, and carnival are all aimed at reaching out beyond our church body to seek God's provision.

Realistically, all of our fundraising efforts as a team bring in only a fraction of the required amount. However, the activities themselves are far more important than the finances they raise. Instead of being about making money, the fundraising events are actually a critical part of the team's training process. It is in the planning and doing of these activities that we learn to work together as a team. Our individual strengths and weaknesses are revealed and relationships are built. We learn to support and encourage each other and discover how to work through the irritating and annoying personality traits we each possess. The two weeks we spend together in Bulgaria as a team are simply an extension of the months we have already spent working and serving together.

Ultimately, where God guides us, He does provide as we step out in faith and obedience. The exciting part is that He provides, not only the finances to go, but the training and equipping the team needs to go well! We are so grateful to the body and everyone else who has supported this ministry financially. We are even more grateful for those who encourage and support the team and pray for us, both as we prepare at home and as we serve in Bulgaria. You are as much a part of this minstry as we are! God bless you all...

62 more days!

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