The Ask

by Laura on June 1, 2012

One of my least favorite things about living overseas is raising financial support for our family.

Like, I really, really, really hate it.

I circle around these haunting ideas that we should be “tent making” and should go learn how to be a doctor or something, that everyone else in our family has “real” jobs, and that the money it takes to keep us here is far beyond what it would take to support a local family.

And these are hard questions for any supported worker to go to sleep with at night.

Add this struggle with the philosophy of it all to the reality that our check literally isn’t the same amount each month and that amazing people sometimes forget, and, well, you can imagine why living on support sometimes really sucks.

I am learning, however, that my negative outlook towards living on charity is largely a result of two things: pride in myself and lack of trust in God. And I am learning, too, that swallowing this pride and learning to walk in greater faith start first with the baby step of the ask–

Just the simple {awful} practice of communicating the need.

And while, it’s been easy to communicate the financial needs of a little girl who needed surgery or the need for an indoor bathroom at a girls’ home, I’ll admit that asking for finances for our own family seems in a league of hard all its own.

But, here’s where I swallow and baby step, anyway. . . 

The short version is that we moved out here two years ago from Colorado, independently, to direct a children’s home {see photo above– weren’t those kids cute back then?}. We had planned for 1/4 of our salary to come from hosting teams of volunteers, through our business/ministry Destined Traveler. We have since handed over the leadership of the home to a national director and another Western couple, and we have discovered that hosting teams in the volume that we thought isn’t where we are being lead. {Incidentally, we have for the past year primarily focused on counter-trafficking efforts with various NGOs.}

In the meantime, we’ve chosen to move to a different part of town {I’m afraid we would have bailed on Asia all together had we stayed out in the country where we lived for the first year,} which has proven to be more expensive. We’ve also lost over $1,000 in monthly support, for various very-valid reasons {financial-stretching is very much a reality in the States right now, too, we know}.

And while I have been homeschooling up until this point, we are feeling the need to send the kids to school for the first time next year. {The reasons for this won’t be talked much about in detail on the blog, but we are feeling like it is the healthiest move for all five of us at this point.} Since the kids are not fluent in Asian, and thus cannot go to a Asian public school, we are looking at the Christian International School right down the road from our house. Convenient, but not cheap, I’m afraid.

From our estimates, it will cost roughly an extra $12,000 for next year for all three kids to go to school in the Fall— as in, in two months. And, honestly, that number makes me want to throw up. It seems like an awfully big one– especially when you are limping along already.

And, here is where you might come in. Would you consider giving to our family in any of the following ways?

1. Pray. I know it sounds chintzy, but seriously, I would be so grateful to have people praying for our financial situation and for our hearts and faith and discipline in the midst of it.

2. Connect. We are involved in a ministry that we aren’t at liberty to directly communicate online right now, but if you go to a church that is interested in investing in the fight against human trafficking in tangible ways, please contact me directly or shoot me an email with the name/contact information of a pastor/person at your church. A simple email introduction from you about us could connect your church with our ministry here in exciting ways. Very exciting ways. Email me personally at:  lauraleighparker {at} gmail {dot} com.

3. Give. We are looking for monthly supporters, as well as one-time gifts for our kids’ education fund.  All gifts are tax-deductible, of course, and go through our accounting agency, New Horizons Foundation in Colorado.

Monthly Giving: CLICK HERE and select operating project: “Joy to the World- SE Asia Parkers” 

And/or  you can donate directly to the school fund through GoFundMe below {also tax deductible}. Any amount helps. 

4. Share. Maybe you are limping along yourself and can’t give {We understand that– we do!}, but perhaps you know of someone who has a heart for Christian Education or supporting missionary families or fighting sex slavery that might be able to donate financially. Would you consider sharing this need to your social networks, your spheres of influence, your friends? Again, we would be beyond grateful.

Whew.

The ask is out there. Now, the wait and faith part begin.

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A Note to Supporters: I know that many people reading here have already sacrificed so much personally for us to be here in Asia, and there are no words great enough to thank you. We are consistently humbled– which, in some ways, might be part of the point. Thank you.

*********

Is it just me, or do you hate asking for money, too?

And, while we’re talking about hard things, what do you think those not raised in a church/missions-minded community think about our Christian notion of sending people to work overseas on supported salaries?  It must seem a bit weird to them, do you think?

  • melissa

    I’ve learned that raising support as a missionary is a GIFT. We often don’t ask; because God knows if the person we’re talking to is a giver or not. He is the one that is working in the hearts of people to give. We do let people know what our financial needs are, but not all of the time. We’ve been back in the US the last seven months to raise lacking financial support and we have been blown away with the way that GOD has supplied what we need to go back overseas, not only in HIS time, but for us to go back ON time.

    One thing I’ve learned the last seven months is that support-raising is not  an awful experience. It’s a great experience. I’ve been humbled as I meet with the numerous people who already support us; and I’ve been humbled that God has supplied it all.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Melissa,

      So glad to hear that you have tasted and seen God’s generous heart towards your family in the hands of his kids. So awesome– an encouragement for the rest of us, for sure! :)

      When do ya’ll head back overseas?

      • melissa

        This week – aagghhhhh! :)

        • lauraparkerblog

          Wow! praying . . . .

  • http://thepoorganiclife.com/ Katrina

    I’ve been there! Not Thailand, but the place of resenting my neediness. I will be praying and I’ll share this around.  We are not on support anymore, but one thing I’ve learned to do better since we aren’t missionaries anymore is advocating for more of an open-hand toward missions.  It makes me furious that missionaries are expected to ingratiate themselves and be screened like politicians when the Bible is BEYOND clear about giving.  I wish the church was looking around for places to serve so that missionaries didn’t have to ask, but I think there is something in the asking that reminds us that God is in the mix . . . Blessings to you and enjoy Grace. Your kids will love it. :)

    • lauraparkerblog

      Katrina,

      This was just what I needed to hear tonight:

      ” I think there is something in the asking that reminds us that God is in the mix . . . ”

      YES, thanks for your encouragement.

  • Korrin

    Wow Laura – you hit the nail on the head in so many ways.  It is hard, our family of 5 are missionaries in Mexico and I really struggle with the support raising issue.  It has been such a faith/pride journey and I am blown away at God’s faithfulness and the generous spirits of family, friends and strangers!  Crazy concept for my friends who are not familiar with missionaries raising their own support – I think some do think we are crazy and perhaps a lil greedy and/or lazy?! (or my paranoia!)  The financial climate worldwide doesn’t seem the best for anyone, anywhere, but all the more does God show His mighty hand in our lives.  I admire you and your journey and really enjoy your posts. 

    School is so important for kids – our oldest is incredibly social and desperate to start school (dispite lacking in Spanish!).  We are trusting God to provide all the extras that are required for him to start.  Middle child is not keen so I guess our oldest is going to be our guinea pig in terms of schooling overseas.  Another faith journey!  I look forward to hearing how God shows himself and his care for you and your children – as you seek to care for His children. 

    You and your beautiful family will be in my prayers….

  • Katy

    Support raising is such a pride killer for me….it’s so humbling to ask for help and in terms of finances especially and I had such a hard time when I was in Africa to be like hey it’s okay to eat ice cream or go out to eat, etc. because it’s like yes, be financially wise, but it’s still life and God does provide like crazy.  And I always like to remind myself and others who are support raising that it is often such a blessing to be able to come alongside someone and to get to be part of the journey.  The giver/sender is excited and WANTS to be part of the blessing and wants to bless others and if you’re not communicating or giving opportunities then you’re taking away their chance to be a blessing to you.  They don’t get to be a part of it.  Plus, it’s always so intriguing and fun to see who God uses to help provide support…always seems like it isn’t who I expect =)

    • lauraparkerblog

      Katy– yes I agree, I love seeing who God provides through that I totally didn’t expect. The process can be a real surprisingly joy-bringer.

  • Stevenpabels99

    I feel so honored to have such a wonderful sister. If your heart feels moved to help – stop wasting time. Human trafficking is real and destroys lives. This is an opportunity to donate to a cause that will give dignity back to an innocent less fortunate child. Laura, I love you and am amazed with your familys sacrifice.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Bro,

      You are awesome. Thanks for the shout-out.

      For Realz.

      Love you to that nephew and niece of mine,
      LL Cool A

  • E Maize

    So very true, so very true…  I find great joy in sharing what my family is going to be doing in the ministry, where we are going and all the cool stuff. But when it comes to asking for support, I cringe. Taking that step of faith of opening my mouth, can be so hard. But with God’s help we can do it.

    • lauraparkerblog

      agree. :)

  • Mary P

    I could never even ask my parents for money or help so completely understand–for me the guilt I felt for being indebted to anyone was too much.  Silly I know but hard to overcome so completely understand!

    I think though that you should know that you are not just extending “The Ask” but allowing those of us who cannot go into the field now, the opportunity to participate in something bigger than our every day lives.  I am just as called to give to His work as you are to be in the field! Thanks for the opportunity you share with us and am praying for you. 

    • lauraparkerblog

      Love that idea of inviting others in . . .

      ” I am just as called to give to His work as you are to be in the field!”
      Right on.

  • Tifanni

    Wow, you’ve penned it so wonderfully. Our family is in the fundraising phase before we move to Haiti, and yes, God is great and faithful and support is coming in. Yet, I hate more then anything, asking, and yes, I know its a pride issue and each day I pray for the grace needed for the day, but its still hard.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Hang in there, Tifanni– as I’ve learned just this week, sometimes God opens floodgates out of left field.

      Keep pressing on,
      L

  • Aubrey

    Thank you Laura, so much, for sharing this.   We feel called to serve in Brazil and this is our biggest stumbling block.  We look around at all our dear friends who are barely making their own ends meet and think, “How can we possibly ASK???”  We have also gone around the ‘tent-making’ mountain several times.  We feel the exact same way; we have no issues asking for ‘help’ for children who have no food or parents to love them, but asking for my own children?  Ugh.  Anyway, it is so encouraging to know we are not the only family who struggles with this and to see that God is blessing yours even though you are struggling with those feelings. 

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