My parents raised me to be financially minded. I was taught that I should go to college, get a job, and get experience in several different areas of work in case I get a ministry job but still need additional income, don’t take out more student loans than you need, use coupons to get sales, the list goes on. And I took a lot of my parents’ advice! I got a degree, worked several different types of jobs, worked on paying off student loans and used coupons like a boss.
What I didn’t expect was to quit my job and become a missionary.
The best part about doing what we do is that we have next to no bills. Basically all I have to pay each month is $40 for my data plan, and everything else is taken out of our donations. But one of the hard things is getting people to donate. We’ve been traveling missionaries for over a year now, and it’s amazing! But God has really taught us what it means to live on next to nothing. We have some amazing donors who give every month, and God has also blessed us through people who empty their wallet out for us from time to time, but I get stressed when I don’t have a guaranteed income.
I’m going to explain a little more about our finances so you understand where we’re coming from. The donations we receive through the AJM website are divided out in a couple ways. First, 12% of it is put towards administrative costs for our non-profit. This is a very GOOD thing, as it covers HR software, donor software, card-charging fees and also insurance that covers if we get kidnapped or killed. An additional $35 is taken out for Garrett’s phone bill, ’cause Lord knows you can’t do what we do without a working smartphone.
After that $600(300 from both Garrett and I) goes towards our band, which is also a GOOD thing! The band covers gas, equipment replacements, and every single meal we eat. We will never starve because our band and non-profit looks out for us.
Whatever is left is then sent to Garrett and I that we use towards things like toothpaste, clothes, coffee, personal travel trips and date nights. And for most of the year we’ve had nothing left over to be sent to us. We have some donors that give to us personally by depositing in our bank accounts, and it is a huge blessing! It’s how we’ve been able to be as well-off as we are now. Garrett has also sold a lot of his old belongings in order to obtain new equipment to use while we travel.
It is so easy for me to stress about this. Each month when I see what has been given to us, it’s gone almost as soon as we receive it. God has covered us so well through our donors and surprise gifts, but I found I had started to build up doubts in my heart. I knew God would cover our costs and could miraculously provide. I trusted Him. But I was afraid he would choose not to.
God really confronted me on that at the beginning of the year. This whole break it’s been a back-and-forth. $250 in debt, $100 above. $100 in debt, $800 above. $200 in debt. Then He said, “So what if you’re in debt for a month?”
I never thought about it before. What would happen if we were in debt for a month? We’d owe a little more money if I didn’t pay a bill on time, but we’d be able to pay it off in another month or two when someone gave. If He didn’t provide this month, the next one He most likely would.
This past weekend we went to the AJM band conference for a time of re-centering our bands and our personal relationship with God. We talked a lot about fundraising as well, and how to be brave and ask. So I did! I texted 8 people and emailed two over the course of two days. And over the next two days, not one reply.
God used this to confront me again, and also used the fundraising conversations to as well. So many of us use Postmates, Lyft, Uber and other services as a way to cover the costs that we sometimes accrue personally from being on the road. But our Executive Director Pierce shared about how he stopped, because God showed him that he was using it as a way to not trust God to provide what was needed, and because he was neglecting time with his family.
After receiving no responses, I started to get frustrated. But at the time, God was showing me that I wasn’t the most important thing. I was trying to make ends meet, not Him. And I was caring more about my finances than about AJM’s, Final Greetings, or even the finances of the people I had asked. My heart was, “You can make my ends meet” instead of, “Can I partner with you?”
God said, “Why are you praying for them to give to you instead of praying for Me to give to them?” And suddenly my heart changed. It wasn’t about gaining money so that we can get ice cream more often. It was about wanting to see my band be fully funded so we can continue going to Europe and visiting new churches and states. It wasn’t about me having the funds to go on a date, but about my non-profit no longer having a deficit because my AJM family was having trouble finding people who believed in our mission.
God really worked on my heart that night, and I’m sure He’s still got more work to do. But He realigned my heart this week, showing me that I need to care more about their finances than my own. I’m blessed by others when I pray for others’ blessings. Maybe this will show you an area you’re having heart troubles in too. Maybe you’re like me and you’re afraid God will choose not to cover your costs this month. Just take some time, and realign yourself.