The Facts About Missionary Finances

Lisette Lewis is a missionary to Uganda, Africa. In her latest post, she addresses questions many of you may have about how donations are used and questions some are afraid to ask for fear of seeming rude or untrusting of the Lord. Her blog post will hopefully put you at ease and help you to realize that these questions are welcome and part of being a good steward of your money.

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Photo Credit: Lisette Lewis

Why are you asking for money?

“All missionaries working with World Gospel Mission (and most other mission agencies) are ‘faith-based,’ meaning our living expenses are not paid by one church or by the organization. And, believe me, that takes a lot of faith! WGM missionaries raise their own support–we seek out partners in the Christian community who want to be a part of God’s work where we live and serve by contributing to our expenses.

“We know that ALL Christians are called to ‘go and make disciples of all nations,’ but not everyone is called to move to another country. That does not mean those who live in their home country cannot participate in the Great Commission. There are many ways to support missionaries who are called to ’go’–and one of those ways is through financial partnership. We are missionaries because you are, too. We just have different roles in the Great Commission.”

How much money are you talking about here?

“My budget is $4300 a month. That does not mean, however, that I am getting paid $51,600 a year. Hardly.”

So where does the money go?

“Money donated in my name goes into a ministry account and is used to pay for the cost of living and doing ministry in Uganda.

“My salary is about $1000 a month. ($1009, to be exact). The rest of the budget covers things like rent, health insurance (which just increased), Social Security, life insurance, vehicle maintenance, and the cost of actually doing ministry.

“Part of the money also goes to administrative costs. WGM has people who work on our behalf at our headquarters in Marion, Indiana, handling finances, processing donations, maintaining WGM’s website, printing prayer cards and newsletters, making missionaries’ lives easier and better, etc, and a small part ($333, or 7.5%) of my monthly budget goes toward those costs. (Most organizations average around 10% for administrative costs, so we are on the low end.)

“Just like you, missionaries have large, one-time expenses when we move (airfare, the initial cost of setting up a home, purchasing visas that allow us to work in the country, language training) as well as the ongoing, monthly costs (rent, utilities, groceries, insurance, transportation within the country, etc). My budget covers all of that.

“If you want a longer explanation of missionary support, this is a good read: Why the heck would a Missionary need so much money to live in a poor country?

Why should I trust World Gospel Mission with my financial information?

“WGM is a charter member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (www.ecfa.org). For over 35 years, the ECFA has ensured that member organizations are responsible stewards. They have Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, which focus on board governance, financial transparency, integrity in fundraising, and proper use of charity resources. You can read more here.”

I cannot give much…you are probably interested in bigger churches with better budgets, right?

“The overwhelming majority of support for missions, both now and throughout history, has come from lots of people who give a little. Most missionaries do not (and really, should not) depend on larger churches for the majority of their support. Instead we have an arsenal of faithful partners who give $5, $10, $25 a month. Those are the people who make our ministry possible.”

If I want to give monthly, how long is that commitment?

“When I move to Uganda, I will be there for two years. Ideally, you would commit to supporting me the whole term.”

What if I pledge to give monthly, but I cannot keep giving?

“That’s why we call it faith-based missions. It’s a step of faith for you and me. Very often, things happen, people lose jobs, kids get sick, plans change. But God is faithful. If you cannot continue to partner with me, we will pray and trust that God will call someone else to join the team.”

Is it easy to support you financially?

“Yes! You can follow this link, which takes you to WGM’s website, where you can give securely online. You can also send checks to:

World Gospel Mission
PO Box 948,
Marion, IN 46952-0948
(Just remember to put my name, Lisette Lewis, account #125-15732 on the memo line.)

“Once I have 90% of my projected budget raised, I will be ‘released’–I will purchase my plane ticket and head for Uganda!

You can choose to give one-time gifts or make a pledge to give monthly/quarterly/yearly.”

Is support raising difficult?

“Sometimes. It can be awkward talking about money. (I’ve never been great about asking for help– something I’ve mentioned before.) And it can be hard when churches change focus and pick new ministries to support or when budgets change and you are suddenly farther away from your goal than last month. (My friend Emily has a great post about that here.)

“But I LOVE talking about Community Health Evangelism and the exciting things God is doing in Uganda and the ways I am privileged to be a part of that. I get to travel around and meet some of the most interesting people– people who are truly excited about God’s work around the world and who are great encouragers for me.”

This sounds interesting, but I am not sure. I still have questions.

“Read WGM’s information about donations here. Have another question I did not answer? Email me at lisette.lewis@wgm.org, or leave a question in the comments.  I love to talk about Uganda–in fact, I am looking for churches, Bible studies, Sunday School classes, home school groups, small groups–any group!– where I can share more about the ways God is working through World Gospel Mission around the world.”

One thought on “The Facts About Missionary Finances

  1. Michael W Victor says:

    Praise Jesus, am by the names Micheal W Victor and i live in Uganda as a young youth leader of a youth ministry known as Transcenders life ministries international which believes in making disciples for disciples. We also have a children’s project all found in Uganda-Jinja district and we would love to host you since you are in Uganda to come and have a witness to what the Lord is using us and even to hear from you more about Missionary for Christ. We would love to work with you on this cause the Lord had called us of making disciples of all nations. Mathew 28:19-20

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