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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why prospective missionaries don't say hard numbers about how much money they need

            I was washing dishes this morning, I just happened to think of a little factoid that I learned many years ago, but I just recalled that I haven’t seen it in print.  Let us say that one is in a traditional church, and a person comes along attempting to raise money to go overseas as a missionary.  In a service, they tell stories of the need of whatever area they are going to, and success stories of their work.  That last point gets really tricky for the person attempting to raise money to go the first time.  I think of a few years ago where I was in a situation in which I knew a number of persons who were attempting to raise funds for the first time, and every one of them was stuck at the 70% level of what was required.  Anyway, you hear the prospective tell about percentages, but they never mention hard numbers about how much they need.  Why is that?

            First, most missionary organizations do assign them a hard number of how much must be raised before the person can go.  Second, that hard number is about 40% above what a person working at a full time, no specific skill requirement job in our culture makes, which might come across to many average persons who attend church but are not in leadership.  That is because of two reasons.  First, a certain percentage of money promised never shows up.  Second, that missionary isn’t working on his own.  He/she (missionary A) knows missionaries B, C, and D in other cities.  There are times A, C, and D go over to help B do something special for a few days, and another time A, B, and D go over to C’s community to do something, etc.  Therefore, between traveling from here to wherever, and back again in a year to raise money, and this other travel during the year, the expense of doing all that is greater (even if a USD stretches further in that country, which it oftentimes does) than what we experience living here and doing what we must, and, for those of us in bottom end jobs, there isn’t extra for vacations and saving for the future, even if we are told that’s a correct thing to do.

            Maybe that’s why there’s one missionary organization that doesn’t have pre-entry educational requirements and a specific monetary goal before going, and that organization has grown hugely in just a few decades (although, yes, I’ve heard the negative stories about persons who go with too little money raised). 

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