Our work in Pakistan is self-funded. This means that our salary comes directly from donations from other people. This, in turn, means that we spend a lot of time raising funds.
This is a problem, since most people don’t like talking about money. It is one of those things – like political opinions and questions of religious preference – that most people in the West want to relegate to the private sphere. Yet by the nature of what we do we have to drag it out into the open. Everything we have – our furniture, our home, our clothes, the food we eat – comes from the giving of others. I don’t like it. For one thing it reminds me of the televangelists who are constantly banging on about money to fund their private jets and their mansions.
Yet I also love this situation very much. There is a personal connection between all of our possessions and the people whose giving made them possible. A friend recently donated £200 to us. A day later, our washing machine broke down, and the replacement cost £200. Now, whenever I do the laundry, I remember her generosity with gratitude. Another friend once posted us some books when our son started to read, and every time they come down from the bookshelf I think of him.
Our situation also fosters frugality. When we left for Pakistan one elderly lady told us that she couldn’t afford much, but had worked out that she could reduce her pension by £5 a month and give it to us instead. When your income comes from sacrifices like that you really start to consider whether you actually need that TV, that takeaway pizza, that fancy cappuccino. And generosity, too. I keep careful track of our own giving and it is significantly higher, as a proportion of our income, than it ever was when we had “normal” jobs.
And now I need to start asking for more money. The plummeting value of the pound has caused a significant rise in our living costs. I need to go to our supporters, to the ladies who send us £5 from their pension, and ask for more. It feels as though our lives are on hold until we can figure out where the supply is going to come from.
Yet that’s the wrong way to look at it. Think about it: if Moses had waited for the supply to fit the need, the Israelites would never have left the Promised Land. Better, surely, to wait for a supply of food and water before taking 40,000 people into the desert, no? Well, no. They went in faith, and then the supply came. Or take Nehemiah who went with a handful of men and a few letters to rebuild Jerusalem, trusting that God would provide the workforce and the tools.
Time to step out in faith, again. God is not in the habit of leaving his people in the lurch.