The support-raising journey: through good times and bad

Portrait shot of Paul Read, white, spectacles, goatee, silver hair

In his role as people in mission funding manager, Paul Read helps make sure mission partners have the resources they need to put their call into action. In these turbulent times, he says, people in mission need the kind of backup team that CMS provides.

Paul, could you tell us what you do?

My brief is to work with others to make sure that the mission partner programme is sustainable financially. I send finance reports to each mission partner, keeping them and office colleagues up to date about overfunding, underfunding, overspending issues. My job is to monitor those issues and collaboratively adapt funding plans that address them. If some support is lost, what are we going to do about that? Is it possible to find new support?

I’m always trying to evolve and develop the funding plan to make sure that it’s sustainable for the future.

That sounds like it could be all about spreadsheets. What is it in your job that excites you?

Having been a mission partner, I know what it is to raise support. What I really enjoy now is helping others on a journey I’ve taken with my family. The job I do is part of the calling that I have in this season to resource people in mission. I’m using what I was trained to do and passing on my overseas experience, including from microfinance work I did. I don’t see the job I do as work at all, really. Even though it is work. It’s very much a feeling that I’m in the right place at the right time.

I’ve never asked a mission partner to do anything I haven’t done myself. If they’ve just lost £10,000 of support, I’ve been there. In the middle of a financial crisis when we were in India we lost support, which we had to make up. And there were questions: “Are we still called? Lord, do you still want us to be there or do you want us to come home?” And then we made that decision. We felt, “Lord, you’re telling us to stay.” We had peace about that. And then the support that we needed was more or less there within a few months.

Nothing is guaranteed. When we were overseas, it was all about one day at a time. And now with this pandemic, it’s all one day at a time.

But it’s not just financial. It’s about raising people in partnership. And that’s what I think is important. All people in mission need people on a journey with them – and it’s good for supporters because they need and want to give. We bring those people together. CMS facilitates all that as part of a mission movement. We’re partnering with people in mission to keep them going.

Everything we do is couched in our policy of making sure people in mission are fully resourced – it’s a holistic approach. We’re looking after them, not just in terms of their funding needs, but their pastoral care, their professional development, the duty of care we have to them. All these ingredients go towards making sure that they can do their work, knowing they’ve got a backup team.

Some people might feel fundraising is unspiritual – we should be praying in support, not going out asking for it. What’s your response to that?

I believe that living on gift income as a called person in mission has a biblical heritage.

We see it in the lives of the Levites; they served religious duties for the Israelites. We see it in the life of Jesus. We see it in the way that Paul interacted with the Philippians and the Corinthians. The idea of God’s people being set apart from direct income-generating work and being supported by others is a heritage that’s found in Scripture.

Again, it’s all about developing partnerships. God gives us those partnerships. So I have no qualms about saying that fundraising is a completely spiritual thing to do. I often use an illustration about a farmer with sacks of seed in his barn. He doesn’t look at the empty field and complain there’s no crop. He goes out and starts planting seeds. So, when you have a need, you plant a seed. That’s exactly what we’re doing in fundraising. We have to work at it.

We talk about mission partners being called and your role as part of your calling. But can giving be a calling too?

Absolutely. Giving and finding support are all part of the journey. When my wife and I were mission partners, it was always part of our job to communicate and develop supportive relationships. We believed from day one, if we are called to go somewhere, then it follows that there are people called to support us. If those people are called to support us, we have to go and find them.

What would you say to someone who feels as if their giving is far removed from mission and what God is doing?

I tell people how important a gift is. Their gift makes a difference. One of the things we heard from our early days in missions is that some people give, some people go, but it’s always God that gives the increase.

Everybody needs a backup team. In the office, we’re part of the backup team for people in mission. None of us can do mission and be involved in a mission movement on our own.

We all have a part to play.

Published 8 July 2020
Europe, Middle East and North Africa

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