Grandma's Silo

Guest blog by Nelson Musipa, The Navigators

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What did your parents teach you about saving Money? This was the first question in a bible study with one of my mentors. 

As I pondered this question I realized that my parents never taught me about saving money—at least I don’t recall. My parents divorced, but even after my mother remarried I do not remember her or my stepfather talking to me about saving money. I also lived with one of my uncles who was a teacher, but I do not remember conversations on saving money. What I remember is how he seemed overwhelmed by financial needs.

Was there nothing in my upbringing that taught me about saving? This is discouraging!

But then I remembered the time I lived with my grandparents as a little boy. My grandma did not have a bank account, but she saved!

Each harvest season she would set aside some of her harvest of maize. Each harvest was divided into three categories. First, she picked the big healthy [corn] cobs and set them aside as seed for the next farming season—not to be touched.

Second, she shelled some of the maize and saved it to ensure food security. This shelled maize was kept in a grain silo about eight-feet tall.

The silo did not have a door but it had a small window that was sealed to protect the grain from rodents—or greedy thieves—until the next harvest. Through this small window the grain would be poured in. Whenever they needed grain to grind into mealie-meal, a small boy or girl would be let in through the window to bring out the needed grain. But then the window was sealed again.

This was where I came handy as a small boy! I enjoyed getting into the silo through this small window to dish out grain through the window. The feeling of the grains pressing on my feet as I sank into the maize was a joyful experience.

The third category was for immediate consumption and for selling. Once enough grain to last until the next harvest was safely stored in the silo, the remainder was packed in bags to be ferried by ox wagon to the Agricultural Marketing Company responsible for buying maize.

As I look back I realize that I did learn about saving—not from my parents but my grandmother in the village. She did not have a bank account but the grain silo was her savings plan. Even though my grandmother was not educated, saving grain so that it can be used in the near future was instilled in her way of life.

My grandmother is now 96 years old and not as active as she used to be, but still insists some maize and groundnuts be grown for her so she can have something to give to people who visit her.

One of my key bible passages on saving is Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer, or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

The ant is wise enough to save for the future when food will be scarce. Over the years I have appreciated setting aside some money for the future. It’s in a separate account not my main operational account. The money there is only touched when needed either for the purpose for which it was saved or for an emergency.

My wife and I had been looking for some land to build a house on so that we could get out of rented property. An opportunity came when one commercial farmer decided to subdivide his land into residential lots. This was such a great opportunity as the terms of payment were very good. You could either buy a lot for cash or pay a deposit and clear the balance over two years.

Since we had been saving we decided that it was best for us to buy not one lot for cash but pay a deposit for four lots. We would then build a house to live in on two of the lots and build a rental flat on the other two. That is exactly what we did. We have since moved into our own house and have now started developing the three by two bedroomed flat for rent.

Like my grandmother, I continue to save for the future, not a silo but a bank account.

Do Lies From the Past Haunt Your Fundraising?

Interview with Toru and Ikuko Ogawa-san, The Navigators University Ministry. Sendai, Japan.

Question 1: How have you "felt" about fundraising in your 25 years with The Navigators?

TORU: Fundraising has been a heavy burden to me—a never-achieved goal. What I did for raising support was only writing letters to appeal my ministry needs. I always have been under economical pressure. For ten years I worked as a part time high school teacher. There was less economic pressure, but I was too busy.

IKUKO: I felt uncomfortable asking economical support to other people. To help our funding I worked for the International School as a Japanese teacher and taught Japanese to missionaries.

Question 2: You attended several funding schools, but you had a breakthrough a year ago?

TORU: Through the biblical teaching at STM (Support Team Ministry) schools I developed a solid biblical foundation. Still, something inhibited me from doing fundraising.

In 2015 January at STM school in Tokyo I was so frustrated, but I didn't know why. I asked Ikuko to go with me to our room to pray. While praying I remembered my father's words, "You will never succeed because you are my son." Even though my father had already passed away God showed me the subliminal influence of his words to my heart.

IKUKO: I was shocked when I heard my husband hurt from his father's negative words. It was great joy that God spotted the light at his dark part which he hadn't noticed.

TORU: Before knowing that I was bounded by my father’s words I felt something stop me like automatic breaking system to limit the speed. I really thank God made me realize this. I feel the heavy stuff was removed.

We prayed to be released from these discouraging words. Miraculously, I felt relieved that I would no longer allow my father’s words to stop me from succeeding in STM.

IKUKO: The breakthrough at STM school last year and the Bible verse in Uno-san's message gave me conviction that STM is an important ministry. I was released from negative thoughts toward STM. Uno-san shared from Luke 8:1-3. In this passage Jesus gave those women who had been healed and delivered from evil spirits the chance to join his ministry by economical support. Jesus also was supported by STM so I was convinced this ministry is following example of Jesus.

Question 3: What is different now?

TORU:: Less pressure. Of course I still get tense when I phone people [to ask for an appointment]! But I feel that I do not have to “succeed.” Instead I feel cared for by God the father.

IKUKO: When we meet face to face [with potential giving partners] we share God's words, pray together, encourage each other and have fellowship. We look forward to experience God's work through STM. I pray for STM with my husband every day.

TORU: We enjoy face-to-face appeals. They become good fellowship and sometimes counseling times. I intend to listen to [potential partners] rather than have them listen to me.

Ikuko and I always go together on appointments. Ikuko is a natural counselor and very good at communicating. In the final five to ten minutes of our face-to-face I ask them to pray to become our financial ministry partner.

Question 4: What scripture(s) is God using in your life now regarding: STM?

TORU: Through Malachi 3:10 God spoke us that He can give us blessings beyond our thoughts.

Question 5: What have you learned about God in this STM journey?

TORU: God's patience and encouragement. He never forgets about us. He also touches the lives of people we appeal to. If we don't do face-to-face appeals we are not able to have fellowship and pray for them in such depth. God changed my attitude from "I have to do this" to "God helps me to do this."

Question 6: Any advice for others?

TORU: and IKUKO: If you are married, do STM as a couple! Meeting people as a couple gives more chance to serve them. Husband must not feel alone.

Follow Up After Appointments

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Do you follow up after funding appointments? What if people promise to give, but don’t start?

Here is a letter exchange with my friend H. about checking back after appointments. What do you think of my counsel?

Dear Scott,

Last month I had two funding appointments with friends whom I ‘partially discipled’ in college. One of them, a busy banker, promised to pray about supporting us and get back to me after July. Another promised to get back to me in the month of June, but I have not heard from either one! I am considering giving them a call one of these days. But I fear to put them under pressure to make a decision under compulsion. Help!

H.

--

Dear H.,

Great question, but first a compliment! I am glad you are conducting face-to-face appeals rather than relying on email or social media to make an ask!

Let’s start with the appointment.

As you ended your appointment did you say you would get back to them? It sounds like you are relying on them to take initiative to get back with you. That is naïve! To use a tennis analogy, the ball is always in your court.

At the end of an appointment I say: “Thank you for your willingness to pray about joining our ministry with monthly support…I will check back with you in a week to see how God has led. Is that enough time for you and your spouse to think and pray about my invitation?”

If you say nothing about calling back you only add to the awkwardness that you ‘feel.’ They don’t feel awkward—you do!

Secondly, your concern about 'putting them under pressure' is understandable, but you are being over-sensitive. When you do not follow up with potential donors you are saying your hesitance is more important than your ministry vision and provision for your family. You are making this too much about you.

Question: Why are you overly sensitive to potential donors? What is the underlying core lie you are choosing to believe?

But we have hope! The Apostle Paul had a similar situation. The Corinthian new believers committed to give for “the collection” (1 Corinthians 16) for the mother church in Jerusalem but did nothing for an entire year! (2 Corinthians 8:10)

Why were they were silent for 12 months? The book of First Corinthians reveals they were going through problems—party spirit, sexual issues, taking one another to civil court to name three.

So Paul has a decision: Shall he ‘let it go’ since 12 months have expired and the Corinthians are struggling in their walks with Christ. Or shall he ‘follow up’? Will he offend them?

In 2 Corinthians 8:11 he boldly exhorts:

“But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.”

“Finish doing it!’ That is extreme follow up! Not only that, but he is sending Titus and a team to collect their gift—and he himself is also coming (2 Corinthians 9:4).

Paul does not let them off the hook. He helps them become successful giving partners—not merely for the money, but because giving is part of discipleship.

Did this put pressure on the Corinthians? Probably, but it is a pressure from the Lord to do the right thing. 

H., I am guessing that you follow up in other areas of ministry, such as discipling with your bible study members. Why not in fundraising? Is it not a spiritual ministry?

 Hope this helps, H. Keep on in Christ.

Scott Morton, International Funding Coach

Opinion Fundraising or Biblical Fundraising?

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I have heard the following opinions from gospel-workers in many cultures, including my own people in rural Iowa!

  • Face-to-face appeals won’t work in my culture.
  • There’s no money out there. We must go ‘outside’ for funding.
  • Asking affects relationships.

These opinions do not come from philosophical meandering but were germinated from painful disappointments. Fair enough, but are these opinions are accurate for all time. What to do next?

Perhaps my story can help. After quitting my job at the newspaper, I launched out in ministry with two strong opinions about fundraising:

  1. Asking is wrong. ‘By prayer alone’ was my plan—like the saints of old!
  2. Friends will give automatically without my doing a thing.

But no one sent money. And praying like the saints of old brought only two ‘non-asked for miraculous gifts.’ Totaling $45. But ministry was going well so I lived in financial denial! Someday money will come…someday….

But soon we had eaten through our meager savings and we couldn’t pay our bills. It was then that my wife Alma (who was not living in denial) asked me politely:

“Are you going to support this family or not?”

I didn’t know what to do. I needed to give time to the students on campus, but there were no fundraising seminars. The advice I got was unhelpful—things like:

  • Sell Christian materials.
  • Just trust God.
  • Get a real job!

Discouraged, I sat at my ‘desk’—a spindly card table in a bedroom—with a blank sheet of paper and my bible. Where to look? My concordance did not have a ‘fundraising’ category.

Finally I stumbled across Numbers 18 about God providing for the Levites, then Philippians 4 about Paul receiving funding from Philippi. And then I discovered Luke 8:1-3 about the women funding Jesus, “many women” it said. Wow!

Gradually, I realized my no-ask opinion was not from God—the bible showed gospel-workers asking! Freed up, I began making appeals. Sure, I made tons of mistakes, but people responded.

What brought me freedom from bondage about fundraising—the bible! And to this day, I still exhilarate in finding new insights from the Scriptures about funding.

How about you? Do you face a specific perplexing funding issue right now? Bring it to the bible! You will find answers!

Remember the words of Jesus, who when tempted by Satan said:

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every opinion that comes out of the mouth of [your name].”

Let’s try that again! “…every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

If the bible is not ‘top-of-mind’ in your fundraising, you will resort to your experience-oriented opinion or your culture’s opinion. That is dangerous. The bible must be our guide for life and ministry. The bible trumps your culture! The bible trumps your opinions!

Now, here’s good news—there are not 8000 bible verses on fundraising! I find about 51 that teach or give examples about funding the work of God. You can master 51—that is do-able!

Why not start today to study these 51 funding passages in depth? Click here to download your copy of the 51 top funding passages. And dive in!

Historical note: In teaching the importance of Scripture to leaders, former Navigator President Lorne Sanny said, “I’d rather be known as a ‘bible-doer’ than a ‘bible-teacher!’” May that be said of us as well.

But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. —James 1:22

Sleeping in a tent in the rain for fundraising…Did we sign up for this?

Bielenburg family

Bielenburg family

Guest Author, Thomas Bielenberg, Australia Navigators

In April of 2015 we jumped into the car for a combination ministry partner development (MPD) and family visiting trip to Brisbane from Canberra (2000 km round trip).

About halfway to Brisbane, I preached at a local church whose minister we had known previously. After the service I made a general appeal for support for our ministry, but no one wrote down any information on the sign up sheet or seemed interested in asking more questions. It seemed like a lot of work for no result!

After my talk, the minister introduced me to a man involved with a Christian-run company that helps the local agricultural industry. My wife Raylee and I had a great chat with him and his wife. I gave him a pledge card packet that the Australian Navigators developed after our MPD training a year ago. I thought nothing more of it. We slept that night on pump-up mattresses in the Church hall, then travelled to Queensland.

About a week later the man called and asked if we could return via his town to chat with the company Board. I was grateful for the invitation, but it was 200 km out of our way and an extra night’s lodging. We had all four of our boys with us and they were not that keen to go. I also wondered if the extra travel would be a waste of time financially. We were made no promises about support! Raylee was particularly concerned and we were all keen to stick to our original travels plans.

After much debating we decided to go, but it was not easy. I hadn’t been able to contact the church about accommodation. We were traveling against the clock but we made it to the meeting on schedule and we presented to the board.   We spoke more about our vision and they asked us to tell them a bit more about ourselves. I don’t remember asking for an anchor donor amount, but presented our ‘holy number’.

After the presentation we ate dinner (chicken and salad wraps – supplies bought at the supermarket) in the dark at the town’s main park by the light of a few distant street lights along with numerous mosquitoes. We then drove on to a small town in the middle of no-where in order to get back to our initial itinerary. We slept in tents that night. It rained (a lot) and it was cold and windy. The tent partly collapsed and one of the mattresses deflated. Needless to say, our spirits were ‘dampened’ the next morning and we were glad to finish packing up and get on the road again.

Even though they barely knew us, the Board agreed to anchor our support team to the tune of approximately $12,000 AUD (Australian dollars) per year (depending on the company profits). I didn’t even know this company existed before our trip, Wow! We discovered that a woman on the Board was a nurse during WWII and at that time was associated with The Navigators in the US. We believe this connection was influential in the Board’s decision to support our ministry.

Lessons learned: 1. Be willing to spend the night in a tent in the rain if it means getting an MPD appointment. 2. God answers prayer in unexpected ways!

In subsequent correspondence it has become clear that our visiting to personally update the board will help with ongoing support, so we are off on another trip in April this year.

Praise God. This was much more than we were expecting and a large part of the answer to our big prayer of being fully funded by the end of 2015.

To find out more from Thomas, contact him at: Thomas_bielenberg@navigators.org.au

What my dad taught me about hogs—and fundraising!

“KNOW WELL THE CONDITION OF YOUR FLOCKS, AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR HERDS; FOR RICHES ARE NOT FOREVER…” (PROVERBS 27:23-24A)

Photo Credit: Stephen & Claire Farnsworth

Flocks of sheep and herds of goats were the economic engines for shepherds in ancient Palestine. Careful shepherds paid close attention to watch for injured animals or signs of disease. They studied the habits of each animal; they knew them well.

Why study their flocks? Because “riches are not forever.” Sheep and goats don’t automatically stay healthy year after year. Losing even one is costly.

The word ‘condition’ can be translated ‘face.’ And that’s what I learned from my dad—the hog farmer.

We raised huge white sows that gave birth to piglets twice a year. My daily chore was to let the penned-up sows out of the hog house to feed and then to usher them back into their correct pen to nurse their piglets. It was scary! Putting a mother sow into a pen that was not hers created panicky open-jawed snorting and piglets squealing. The sows even tried to root open the gate or crash the pen. Chaos!

But I couldn’t distinguish one white sow from another—they were all white—big white angry sows in a hurry to be fed and return to their babies. I finally resorted to marking Roman numerals on their backs with red chalk as they rushed by me to the feeding floor. My dad admitted it was difficult, but he said, “Look at their faces. Their faces are different.”

Maybe my dad knew Proverbs 27:23. I often saw him staring at his hogs or milk cows as they fed. Just looking at them. “Boring!” I thought. But I get it now. He was studying them, “knowing well the face of his flocks.”

Okay, you are not a farmer, but you have a “flock” of giving partners. Do you:

  •  Assume they will never stop giving? Oops!
  •  Know the giving patterns of each one?
  • Take time to think about your flock and how to encourage them?

Like the shepherds of Palestine, your flock is your economic engine. They are not ATM machines! They are real people with real needs and fears. Study their faces!