Last week Kyle and I were pitched by an acquaintance who is embarking on missions-related work. The request to meet with us came through an introduction by a friend who is a current supporter of this missionary. (I’m not quite sure missionary is the right word, but he’ll have an evangelistic ministry and he is seeking outside support, so I’ll use the term here.) He attended to our church campus so we have met from time to time in the past and we have that solid and relevant connection. We walked away from our meeting truly convinced that this missionary would do a great job based on his personality and past experience.
When I was reflecting on whether or not we would want to make an ongoing or one-time financial commitment to this missionary, I realized that we generally have avoided giving continual support to individuals. In fact, the only type of giving that we have pledged for the long-term is our tithe to our local church – otherwise we always give one-time gifts. I think what makes me nervous is not the financial outlay every month – after all, we keep a budget so these types of scheduled payments are normal to us – but the prospect of having to end the support at some point.
That we are considering giving to an individual rather than an organization makes the prospect of stopping the support even more nerve-wracking. I mean, I don’t even pledge to support public radio monthly and no one would even notice if we stopped giving there. The idea of having to tell a real person that our priorities have changed and we’re not going to support him financially any longer is really intimidating!
I confess that I have thought from time to time about starting to support a child through Compassion International or a similar organization but have chickened out of the ongoing support in favor of one-time gifts because of the idea that at some point we would want to stop and I don’t want to have to tell the kid that. I do this even though I know that ongoing gifts are much more valuable for individuals and organizations than one-time gifts because it helps with budgeting.
It seems silly that we have let this far-off future fear limit the ways we give in the present. After all, these types of gifts may even come to a natural end and we wouldn’t have to face the decision to stop support prematurely at all. Plus, I really think that missions work and helping to the poor are worthwhile endeavors that we should be giving to! It’s just a matter of getting past this fear and transitioning from a one-time giver to an ongoing giver. Perhaps making a commitment to this particular missionary will help us through that transition as he is just an acquaintance moving to another part of the US and not a child depending on us for his sustenance and education.
Do you have any regular charitable giving that you have pledged to for the indefinite future? Have you ever supported a missionary, either one-time or ongoing? Are you ever so intimidated by the prospect of having to say ‘no’ later that you can’t say ‘yes’ now?
photo from Free Digital Photos