We have a goal to help develop the YWAM staff while we are here. We are hoping to train/resource them to be better at what they do. Raising personal support is a huge challenge for many of the staff here, for several reasons. It is hard to talk about money. It is difficult to try to communicate to people that you are doing ministry that it is worth investing in. These are universal struggles for those of us who raise our own support. But in Rwanda, there is the added challenge of being a country that has traditionally received missionaries; that has traditionally received financial support from (white) missionaries. So the idea that you could be a Rwandan missionary takes a lot of education. Many of our colleagues, when they have discussed support with those they know, have been told, “Come and pastor at our church, and we will give you a salary,” or “Why don’t you just get a job?”
Mike and I have set out to try to help some of the long-term staff raise their personal support. This began with some discussion about what it means to raise your own support, why YWAM works this way, and sharing our own story of being missionaries in Canada (and facing many of the same questions and struggles that they face). We did role-playing to practice answering some of the hard questions. We have helped staff work on newsletters, vision statements, and prayer cards. And we planned an event to help kick-start discussions and understanding among people who may be interested in supporting them. (And hopefully to kickstart the donations, too: most of the staff here don’t have enough support to buy food and pay their rent, even though it is very cheap to live.)
The event is on Sunday. We have asked each staff who wants to participate to invite 12 people to sit at a table with them for the evening (with the expectation that about 6 will come). We will make some food from different countries and serve the meal. People here are used to very standard food: it doesn’t vary outside of about 6 or 7 different dishes, so this will be quite an experience for many. We are trying to keep it simple, both accounting for local taste/unadventurousness, and for the simple kitchen – curry, beef stew, chili, etc. (I am so thankful for Mike who will oversee the cooking!) We will speak a bit about YWAM and missions in general, and individually affirm the value of each staff member. I have had a few cultural lessons along the way, and am probably in for a few more as the day comes (hoping that I don’t bungle anything too badly). I am going to speak a little about it being time for the church in Rwanda to grow up and begin sending/supporting missionaries, about it being necessary that people from this country work to heal the damage that has been done in the past – physical, spiritual, and emotional.
We’ll post some pictures and let you know how it went next week!