We are at that stage of ministry where we are inviting people to partake in the ministry of tribal church planting. We have found this time to be super- rewarding, faith-building, and yet quite intimidating!
Naturally, people have been asking us how much we need to raise before we head overseas; quite unnaturally however, we don’t know how to answer that question.
Now for those who just want a quick answer and don’t want to read a whole blog post explaining the specifics, we are presently telling people our highest estimate, which is: $8000/month. We hope to figure out an official “recommended support level” sometime this summer and we can leave for the field when we have at least 75% of that recommended level coming in monthly.
At first glance, finding our recommended support level seemed easy. NTM provided a calculator where we simply provide the information of our family size and field of service and, viola, out comes a number. (Now we knew walking into this that PNG is one of the most expensive fields. There is no manufacturing in the country and anything that doesn’t grow out of the ground has to be imported from another country, before being flown in to our location.)
When we put our information into the support calculator, out popped a whopping 9k/month! The support level was divided into three general categories: ministry expenses, living expenses, and benefits (includes medical, retirement, and taxes). One of the subcategories for living expenses was a section for the tithe. The tithe section was calculated to add enough to our budget to tithe 10% of the entire income, and so was showing $900/month. As we thought about it, we decided to strike the entire tithe section from our budget (Not that we don’t plan to give regularly, but our conviction is that tithing is one of the ways we can show faith that God can provide, and asking supporters to supply an extra thousand a month is not really accomplishing that purpose). Striking that section brought our support level to our current highest estimate of 8k/month.
We contacted the field regarding the support level and they said that it is pretty common to adjust the recommended support level based on individual needs. That was a bit perplexing, as I thought it was telling us our needs. We shot some inquiring questions to people we know in PNG and it seems there is room for adjustment in some categories, and that the initial estimate was showing the costs in a more expensive scenario. Stacie’s cousin happens to be the supply buyer of the Sepik region (the guy who buys the tribal missionaries’ groceries and supplies to send to them) so he and his wife will be a great source of information when we see them this summer, on their furlough.
After we have adjusted our costs a bit, we will submit it to the field leadership for approval. Even with our adjustments, our expenses will likely still be quite high, but we are trusting that God can provide. He has been so faithful so far, and we have seen Him working so much during this time of support raising. We know that this is nothing He cannot handle!
There are quite a few reasons why our expenses are so high, even after we pare it down (taxes, kids’ education, economy, etc.), and if you are interested in knowing more specifics, we’d be glad to share them with you! There will also be needs before getting to the field, particularly of things that we need to buy before heading over there, and as we get closer to our leaving date, we’ll be putting together a list for anyone who wants to be a part of getting us prepared! As always, we’d love to talk with anyone who has questions; you can email either one of us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.