It all started with an internet search: "how to fundraise for missions".
The day we found out that we would no longer be supported in our work by an organization, we were heartbroken, confused, angry. A plethora of emotions that left us crying out in prayer to our Father in Heaven. And while I could say that that moment led us to spending hours upon hours, days turned into weeks in seeking the Lord's will for our lives, the reality is this: we never had to question our calling. We knew back then what we know now and what God has confirmed time and again over the past several months, we have been called to Portugal. That is why in those early days, we immediately began entertaining the idea of fundraising. Because the truth is, we are not called to an organization but rather, we are called to the people.
God has given us a heart for the country of Portugal and its inhabitants. Early on, He made it clear that we were being led to this beautiful country. From my "coincidental" 2 year study of Portuguese in college to Hodge's visit to Portugal years ago on a backpacking trip, during which he fell in love with the country. It's evident in the way that He allowed us to integrate so smoothly into the community of Vila do Conde and in the way that He has brought certain people into our lives. It is because of these things that we have planted our lives in Portugal, and while we not only desperately desire to get back to the life that we have been given there, we wholeheartedly believe that God wants us there.
Ephesians 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
That is why we are fundraising, and that is why we are trusting in our God to provide.
Over the past months, many a people have kindly expressed to us that there is no way that they could ever fundraise. They tell us how difficult it must be while giving us that look of "better you than me." We have been deemed brave and courageous, and we have been commended for what we are doing. Now, I don't say all of that to "toot our own horns," so to speak. Rather, I say it to express that we are not those things. Instead, we are simply two crazy, yet passionate people following our hearts.
Yes, it can be extremely awkward asking people to give us (and trust us with) their hard-earned money! However, we believe so much in what is happening in Portugal that we are willing to put ourselves out there and ask the questions. Of course, there have been those moments when we worry the funds won't come in, and there have been those days full of discouragement brought on by unexpected responses from people. And you know what? It can be pretty tempting to dwell on those moments and days (and don't be misled, because sometimes, we have done just that). But it is during those times that our calling to Portugal and our faith in our God push us forward. And in moving forward, we often find ourselves in a state of complete and perfect peace, because the truth is, it is extremely liberating to trust in the Lord to provide for something that He has called us to.
Hebrews 13:20-21 "Now the God of peace [...] equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
So, while we have come a long way since that first internet search, we continue to learn more and more about fundraising every day. Along the way, we have made mistakes, which we use as learning opportunities, but we have also received great advice from people who have fundraised in the past. There has been discouragement, as aforementioned, but there has also been great encouragement found in the people who have partnered with us (not the mention, the incredible generosity of Pawa'a Community Church, who have chosen to guide us, support us, and love on us through all of this). Ultimately, what it has come down to is this: We realize that the Lord is bringing along exactly who He wants to partner with us in this.
Retrospectively, I am grateful that the Lord has led and guided us to and through the wonderful world of fundraising, because while some days can be pretty difficult, most days are truly wonderful. We have been given the opportunity to trust God in ways that we never had to before. To be honest, before now, we never had to trust Him in our finances. Since marriage, and even before that, both Hodge and I have held jobs that allowed us to instead trust in steady paychecks. We've never had to worry about where our rent money was coming from or how we were going to afford groceries. But now. Now, we are on a different journey, and honestly, I am grateful that He would allow us to be here. Because fundraising, more than anything, has been a faith-growing journey. One that has brought us closer to God.