Mary dreaded opening the email when she saw who it was from and the subject line. She had been watching the family’s account slowly slipping onto the red during the last few months. Her husband, John, kept saying not to worry. She had insisted that he contact their supporters, but he had not done so.
The email from their agency said the deficit had reached the point where at least one of them had to come home to shore up their support. That meant that either she would be left in their host county with their two middle school children or they would have to take the children back to their passport country. Then they would have to change schools in the middle of the year–while going through the reentry process.
Mary was angry with their agency, with their supporters, and especially angry with John. He had not tried to contact supporters, not even with an email. She hated asking for funds, begging for money, especially for money for themselves.
Finances are an issue in any marriage, but for those serving with faith-based agencies there is often even more stress. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks and with world-wide recession (depression) in 2008, raising funds has become more and more difficult.
Let us look briefly at fund raising in the Bible and in greater depth at marriage issues that may arise at different stages in the careers of cross-cultural workers.
What Does the Bible Say?
Paul, an early cross-cultural worker, wrote much about this when he wrote to the Corinthian church in Greece (1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8-9). Though this brochure is about marriage issues raised by fund raising, let us also consider some of the things Paul mentioned as he raised funds.
- He specifically asked for funds and even gave suggestions about how to raise them (1 Corinthians 16:1-2, 2 Corinthians 9:5).
- He encouraged people to give as much as they could (2 Corinthians 8:10-15, 9:6-7).
- He urged keeping the highest ethical standards (1 Corinthians 16:3-4, 2 Corinthians 8:20-21).
- He even compared some churches to others (2 Corinthians 8:1-8, 9:2-4).
Paul was not reticent about raising funds. Missionaries today need not hesitate about asking for money either. However, when they do, issues may arise between spouses during any stage of their missionary career.