E-book: God's Bulgarian tapestry (Part 15)
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by Howard Culbertson
15. Threads of greenbacks and tears
"Where will we get the money?" students ask as they consider joining this pioneer adventure. They are overwhelmed at the thought of buying transatlantic airline tickets, and then finding the money for a year's worth of rent, food, and insurance coverage. The best thing we can tell them is this: If volunteering a year to world missions is God's will, He will make a way for getting the funding.
The development of support systems for each volunteer is part of the tapestry story. We've discovered that this tapestry has some very long threads in it. Those are the threads of prayer support and financial assistance reaching across thousands of miles.
None of the young people graduating from college had enough money in the bank to get to Bulgaria and live there for a year. After all, they'd just spent four years in a Christian college. A few faced large student loans which need repaying. Ways had to be found to appropriately solicit support from family and friends.
A key question was: Would people help these volunteers without cutting back on their support for General Budget? Would they give beyond what they were already doing for the denominational missions program? If not, all we would be doing would be shifting the same dollars from one area to another. In the long run, it would be damaging if this new volunteer program detracted from General Budget. In talking about doors we could not enter for lack of money, we didn't want to cast aspersions on the General Budget system. That very effective system has made the Church of the Nazarene a top missionary-sending denomination.
When Hermann Gschwandtner talked with new team members, he told them to primarily seek prayer support, not finances. "It's primarily a spiritual battle," he has said repeatedly.
Prayer support did come from back home. One critical issue was that of permission by the Bulgarian government for team members to be there. The first team members arrived with only tourist visas, hoping to get long-term visas after they arrived. That hope was in vain. Christmas of that first year was a critical time. Government officials were cracking down on foreigners coming to in Bulgaria for religious reasons. A couple of religious organizations actually had to withdraw all personnel. Would our group be able to stay? People prayed. Miracles happened.
"Do they remember us?" comes the plea every so often from Bulgaria. Students and faculty at SNU always assure them that people do. Over the months, boxes from SNU staff and from home churches gave tangible evidence of that support. SNU has a bulletin board devoted to photos and news from Bulgaria.
"We flourish on the prayers of those back home" Philip Rodebush said to someone visiting Bulgaria. What Philip said struck so deeply that it was scribbled it down on a napkin to bring back to the U.S.
What about the money? Could they come up with it? Each volunteer has assembled a prayer and financial support team of friends, family and local churches. The best way to explain how people came up with their funding is to say that they prayed it in. In one instance, a college sophomore gave money from an accident settlement she received. The company had given her a settlement for "pain and suffering." She invested part of that in the Bulgaria project!
Philip's home district, led by NMI President Lou Noel, earlier had raised the money to put him in Russia for a summer. Then they turned around and helped Philip with funds for his year in Bulgaria. They did this without reducing their World Evangelism Fund support.
An SNU employee is giving $15 per month to one team member. A faculty member is giving $50 per month to another one. A couple of Baptist churches jumped in with support for Rudy Reyes, one of the 1995-96 group.
There are the churches that prayed. Rev. Ron McCormick of Little Rock First church called SNU one day to ask: "How can we help with Bulgaria?"
None of the volunteers that year was from his church. However, seeking to personalize missions for his congregation, Ron wanted to financially support at least one team member. So that year, Little Rock First Church picked up half of Rob Burgess' support and part of the Ogden family's support. They have also helped the Don Moores financially. By adopting these volunteers, Ron hoped to increase missions visibility in the church (and thereby help out the very-important World Evangelism Fund).
These long threads of greenbacks and intercessory prayer have been crucial to the tapestry design. . . . [ continue reading ]
The Compassionate ministry thread
|In Bulgaria we have to show that born-again Christians are people who care deeply. We are fitted to do that. Nazarenes aren't into "excursion evangelism." We don't grandly go somewhere, make a big splash, report "thousands" of converts to supporters back home and move on. That's not our style. Indeed, our long term goals for Bulgaria center on planting loving, caring communities of Bulgarian believers. That will not happen overnight; it will take time. . . . [ read more ]|
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