For some reason, I hear a lot of criticism of YWAM (Youth With A Mission). I’m not sure why it is, but for some reason, people often seem to want to tell me what they think is wrong with the organization I work with. And every time I have to fight this primitive defensiveness that rises up in me. It feels something like, “Shutup! You can’t say that about my family.”
Don’t get me wrong – I recognize our flaws as well as anyone. In addition to simple familiarity, our association with YWAM has been mostly based on a couple things: we love the foundational values of YWAM, and we love the people we get to work with.
Working with YWAM means we have to raise all our own support. (This means that the only funds we get for salary and ministry are what we can raise personally.) I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with this part of the job.
The hard part about this is that I often feel like I have to convince people that who we are and what we do is valuable. It can make it difficult to be entirely honest about our struggles. (Would you want to support missionaries who are struggling with a round of culture shock [even though this is a normal thing that happens regularly to most people living in other cultures]?) Fundraising is a lot of work – getting the right pictures, organizing, writing updates and newsletters, and speaking about what we are doing at churches and events. (And trying to figure out with just the right amount of humility and pushiness, who might be interested in any of those things.) It is also hard to raise funds when your main role is administrative… it’s not exactly the kind of work that brings in the big bucks. (Although many parts of ministry are dependent on good administration to function smoothly.)
Fundraising is not why I signed up for missions – but I do know that without doing that, I don’t get to do anything else.
Now let me tell you why I love it…
I like the idea that we get to be a bridge between different cultures. Living in North America, it is easy to forget about what happens in the rest of the world, and it is amazing to be able to share what we see and experience. Hearing about what we do can bring out the best of peoples’ generous hearts, and it is humbling and awesome to be a part of that.
And the best part – visiting! Communicating about what we do is actually most effective on a personal, face-to-face basis. Many of the people who support us are people we know and love – so we get to go visit our friends, talk about our lives, and call it work. HA! I love it.
In the months since Beatrix’s death, my appreciation of this form of financial support has only grown. We have had the freedom to proceed “back to work” as our hearts are ready. We have a wide and deep support network: we have had financial and emotional support from people in Canada, Rwanda, and around the world. This support has been and continues to be crucial to our recovery. I am so very thankful that it is spread out, so that people can do what they want/what they are able to do without feeling pressured. I’m thankful that the burden of our neediness has been spread out over many strong shoulders. And I am thankful that the pain of our grief is somehow eased because we know other people are feeling it with us.