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