At first glance, this word evokes thoughts of political campaigns, non-profit organizations, grand charity events, mentally-nagging brochures that leave you feeling guilty until you at least skim over them, pledge forms that linger on one’s desk, and a whole conglomeration of other efforts that ultimately boil down to one, nagging, question: “Are you able and wiling to give me your money?”
Yep, the good ole’ dollar. Moo-lah, as they say. Fundraising and money. The two go hand in hand; the ultimate goal of fundraising cannot (usually) be achieved without money, and money is the catalyst of putting people into action and achieving what you have set out to accomplish. I suppose we all start ‘fundraising’ or ‘selling’ from an early age. Lemonade stands. Bake sales. Girl Scout cookies. Going door-to-door with Big candy bars for your baseball team. For me, it was “Wreaths of Maine” at Christmastime.
And here I am, now 23, back at fundraising. This time, to get to Kenya. To reach RVA. To spread the Gospel. Though fundraising in its elementary principles and tactics is similar no matter what you do and where you are trying to go, I feel very differently about it this time around. In fact, this past month’s fundraising has been a blessing to me. It has been a faith-filling, humbling, and relational experience. You would think it is a bit taxing, right? Especially in the face of our current economic situation…? Asking people for their hard-earned money?
Well, let me dispel all pre-conceived notions of my Africa fundraising being a painful process. As I am a list-maker, I know of no other better way to explain myself than to…well, supply you with a list!
A) Fundraising has been faith-filling because I have beheld the power of divine Provision. As the checks have steadily and regularly appeared in the Jansen family mailbox, I have been reminded that God is a Provider (Malachi 3) and that He supplies everything we need for the things He has called us to do. God is calling me to go to Kenya. I am obeying. He is producing generosity in people’s hearts to provide financial support. What a confirmation of His care and love!
B) Fundraising has been humbling because I am receiving what I do not feel I deserve. We never deserve the funds we receive when fundraising, as if our desire to do something is automatically set upon a pedestal of “worthiness.” The worthiness is not proven until AFTER the fact, and sometimes, never to its fullest extent. And, the greater the gift, the greater the weight of responsibility. In other words, “to whom much is given, much is required.” What I mean by all of this is that I feel as if moving to Kenya for 11 months to serve 9th and 10th girls is a sobering privilege, and a responsibility I do not take lightly. Yes, I am looking forward to doing this, and believe this is the role that God is asking me to fulfill–but a new role I am receiving with weakness and inadequacy. For, at the end of the day, any grace, wisdom, mercy, and love that I will have imparted to these girls, any spiritual blessing that they receive through me, will be because of Christ at work in me. I am simply an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands. So, that is why it is a humbling process. And that is why I am fervently praying and offering up these funds to the Lord and saying, “God, use me, a sinner in need of her Savior, to be your witness and your ambassador.”
C) Fundraising has been relational because I have experienced joyful and surprising interactions with my supporters. Whether I have personally known these people my entire life, or just vicariously through cyberspace (ie Facebook, blogging, etc.), fundraising has led me to some amazing individuals and families. And, how joyful and surprising these interpersonal connections have been for me! I only wish I could tell you every single story. But, what I can say is that the source of fundraising is not money, but people, and the root of giving is not obligation, but love.
Here’s just a small sampling of what has occurred in the past 4 weeks. The doctor from Covenant Mercies Ministry in PA who bookmarked my blog three years ago googling “Kiburara Gospel Center in Uganda,” re-discovered my blog recently, and sent me a check in the mail, though I had never met him and his wife, AND just so happens to work in the same professional field and location as my cousin on the Jansen side; the former professor from Montgomery College who has regularly and faithfully sent me FB messages giving me fundraising ideas; the academic counseling contact at Universities at Shady Grove who helped me get into an upper level Business course three years ago, who happened to be on my mass mailing e-mail, and then told me about his Christian faith, and sent me a check in the mail this past week; the friend of a close friend from AZ who submitted a grant through the National Christian Foundation on my behalf; the many many church friends whose donations have come with encouraging e-mails and letters and prayers; the other doctor who just so happens to be FB friends with my pastors at CLC and works as a missionary surgeon at the Kijabe hospital in Kenya, and has written numerous books through Zondervan and Crossway publishers, the same publishers that our pastors use; the girl I met who attends American University and graduated from RVA last May, and whose younger sister will be in my dorm hall this upcoming year, and who loaned me the RVA yearbook so that I could see all the pictures and get “acquainted” with RVA; the family who just so happened to be attending this year’s Pastors College at CLC, and who served as dorm parents at RVA 10 years ago, and had me over for dinner this past month so that I could see a video of “RVA life” in action.
And this is just the beginning! Each story is an amazing piece of God’s grace being interwoven into the whole masterpiece.
I am grateful to God that in 3 1/2 weeks, He has provided almost $7,000 out of the $18,000 total amount needed. And, I am smiling into the future as I anticipate all of the other unexpected and sudden ways that God will show me that He is at my right hand, readily and fervently involved in each and every detail.
Tonight marks exactly 10 weeks until I leave! Thank you for your continued support and prayers!