Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not Good and yet...

Friends my heart is overwhelmed.  This has perhaps been my toughest month in Rome and yet I am starting to see God open doors into the relationships and places He wants me.  It is my belief that Satan is not happy about this, and hence He is taking every opportunity to hinder the progress I am making here in Italy.  I have had a run in with a train badly injuring my leg, I spent a week sick, I have had to stop attending language school, and some of my friends here have returned to the states and too top it all off I am seriously underfunded!

You have no idea how much I hate, HATE continually having to ask people for more support, I feel like a broken record.  Yet, as a friend and supporter reminded me yesterday raising financial support is an ongoing part of the life of a missionary.  She suggested that I lay it all out for you clear as day so that you are well informed and able to assess the need for yourself.
ReachGlobal requires that Single missionaries serving in Rome raise $6285 a month.  When I left for Rome last July I departed in good faith based on the promises of faithful giving. (some of it monthly, some quarterly and some yearly.)  Since being here there have only been 2 months where the total $6285 pledged actually was given, usually I am seeing about ½ come in.  I was hoping that those who give once a year at the beginning or end of the year would help to make up this loss, but that did not happen.

This means that at this point, almost 8 months in my Ministry Account is severely underfunded.  This ministry account funds not just my salary (which has been cut by $1000 a month) but also our ministry here in Rome, heath care, retirement, travel, payroll services in Minnesota as well as other office costs at out headquarters, housing, conferences and training, and language school.  Because of the huge shortfall in my account I have had to take a $1000 pay cut and stop attending language school and they have frozen my ministry spending until my account reaches the minimum balance required of $4,500.

My heart is overwhelmed because I feel like I am just really starting build good relationships with Italians, my language is improving, and I am finding niches for ministry.  I have tried to make the best out of the situation, taking on two babysitting jobs with Italian families where I am there to teach their children English.  This is helping me supplement my income a bit and it gets me into the homes of my neighbors.  Because I am missing language school I am working hard to meet up with complete strangers to exchange language, which again lets me meet more Italians, but is not nearly as effective as school.  Today I went to the home of a family that goes to my church, and spent four hours or so talking with them in Italian over lunch and coffee, this is a great new connection and the mom really wants be to consider them my second family here in Rome.  I have encountered a woman from Moldova and her two children for a week now each time I go downstairs to the Coffee Bar to do my Bible study.  I am praying that God will help me to help her and her family.  Last week one of the girls from our home group led the Bible study for the first time and did a fantastic job, she is hoping to move into our neighborhood which would be a great new addition.  We have had a number of people visit from ReachGlobal some joining our team and others to attend a conference on ministring to the refugee population in Europe, Sarah has been asked to start teaching English at our local library and she has asked me to help her, and I am back to teaching English on Tuesday nights where some good relationships are forming.  I was also able to write out my testimony in Italian and am working on putting it to memory.  And next weekend I will head to a conference for Italian youth interested in missions.

So, as you can see many GOOD things are happening, and it breaks my heart to think that I might have to come home in the next month or two if my support does not increase by $3000 a month.  It would be such a shame to have to leave right when all of these connections are happening.

I have been reading through the Bible with my home group four passages each day and as I read through Exodus this past week a few thoughts struck me and I feel they apply to God’s provision…
1.       When God called the Israelites to leave Egypt he first had them go to their neighbors and ask them to give them their gold and jewelry.  And God prompted the Egyptians (who did not believe in God) to give over these things.
2.       The Israelites were likely in shock and totally excited by this as they had been serving as slaves for quite some time, they likely doubted that their asking would produce such a bounty.
3.       Later when it came time to construct the Tabernacle God had Moses request the people to bring forth all the gold and wealth they were willing to give in order to accomplish His desire.
4.       I am guessing based on knowing humans and having read the story of the Israelites short term memory problems with how God continued to provide all that they needed that giving up this wealth that God had provided was very difficult.
I am asking you point blank to think hard about how God has met your needs and how He continues to meet your needs.  Then I am asking you what God had Moses ask the people of Israel, to give willingly whatever you can out of what God has blessed you with.  If you are already doing so, thank you.  If you are one of the many who promised to give but have not been giving I ask you to start today.  And if you are not giving and can give willingly to the work that God is doing here in Rome then I ask you to give today too.

I am asking all of you to pray for me.  Pray that I would not become discouraged, that I would continue to serve faithfully with joy.  Pray that my language learning will not diminish, and that my new jobs will help tie me over as well as help me build relationships with these families.  Pray that God will supply all my needs as I know He is able to do.

If you are a member of a church or a group who might be able to join my support team please pass along my need to them as well, for we are all one body!

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