23 October 2007

Forbidden Prayer Letter Thoughts

Writing our monthly support letter is the most nerve-wracking time of the month for me...

It shouldn't surprise me...

The first time I wrote one a pastor "friend" wrote me a 3 page Word document outlining my errors...

The second time I wrote one a family member sent me a "cease and desist" letter...

The third time I wrote one I was called a "self-righteous and arrogant"...

I wish I could say I'm making this up... I wish I wasn't so sensitive... and I wish they wouldn't have signed up for our newsletter...

What I came to discover was that many people think a prayer letter is supposed to be a be a humble-boast about the work you (ie. God) have done while explaining your needs as being the will of God so the people will provide...

It goes like this...

"Praise God this last week when Jeff was preaching to a crowd of 5000 poor and naked villagers, 3000 were saved... pray that God would provide clothes... donations can be sent to Box 777, Jungle, Africa."

"Praise the Lord! Christine castrated 400 goats, helped delivered 20 cows and 2500 orphans were feed... pray that God would led others to donate 700 pigs so the children won't die of protein deficiencies ... donations can be sent to 123 Milkingcow Lane, Dairy Queen, Africa"

Now I realize this isn't how everyone feels... but like I said I'm sensitive... and I know others in the same boat...

Sad but true...

Big numbers make supporters happy...

Sharing struggles can lead to overreactions from supporters or agencies pulling you off the field...

And honesty isn't always appreciated...

I wish I could write something like...

"This past week when I preached NOT ONE person responded to the alter call... I felt like a fool"

"Please pray - we are depressed, lonely and discouraged but for some reason we want to stay in this foreign land"

"Church is long, boring and filled with false teaching... but what should we expect we came to train pastors in need of training"

As we talk with friends they long for honesty and even expectations...

Missionaries want to share their struggles and have people validate their feelings even if they can't understand...

Missionaries want to be able to drop a goose egg on Sunday and still feel good about writing home...

Missionaries feel that since we live in the third world our money is expected to lend 10X's more aide, your preaching is to be 20X's more effective and that a miracle is supposed to happen every month...

Missionaries... especially this one.... hate begging but see valid needs around them everyday and just want to mobilize others to help...

Now I realize I've been talking about feelings... so I will go out side hit a friend in the arm, spit and talk about how much I can bench-press... and I realize that many times what one person feels is not what the other person is thinking... and I realize I'm writing to the wrong crowd...

I have gotten more emails from this blog than I ever have from any monthly update... and its all been really nice... so thanks for the encouragement, validation and the freedom to be honest. Thanks for letting a person who doesn't like being called a missionary rant and rave...

5 comments:

Teenietinyt said...

Make sure you can bench the weight of those chickens!!!
and...I understand...

John said...

Jeff, transparency is the most sincere part of being a Christian. It's also the most vulnerable position to be in also. But Christ gave us the example in being willing to submit to His heavenly Father and do the will of the Father so that WE might be able to share in the joy of this life. So whether its preaching with no response or butchering chickens or fighting another round of some tropical disease that the rest of the world never heard of, you are doing what God has called you to do. So don't be ashamed of your prayer letter. God is doing His work, you just get to be one of the workers. There should be no fear in reporting what God has been doing and how you've been struggling. Remember He promised that His yoke would be easy. Trust Him always.

Jeremiah said...

Hi Jeff
I randomly stumbled on your site through a friend. I've enjoyed reading some of your adventures, and to be honest, some of your rants really irritated me (it's just hard for me to understand how someone, Christian or not, could be so negative). But in the end, I've really come to appreciate your consistent transparency. Money is a very touchy sensitive topic, and although you come off very negative sometimes when you are honest, it's refreshing that you have convictions about what you rant about. You don't change colors, even at the risk of offending your donors. I truly admire that. Keep working for the audience of One brother. Thanks for sharing your life adventures with us.

Anonymous said...

Hey man,
I look at your blog everyday when I'm at school. I go to Fresno State and i read newsletters and updates from a dozens of missionaries and miss. organizations. I look forward to your honesty about your situation, especially since I've seen the churches in Uganda. I recommend your blog to everyone because it shows me that missionaries are normal people, wanting to be used by God, and that the term missionary is misleading. Be encouraged that God encourages me through what he takes you and your family through.
Say hi to Julius for me
Tony Pietrolungo

Teenietinyt said...

I agree with these guys, too many times missionaries are thought of with sensationalism and perfectionism. With glowing halows and angel wings in a bubble that never bursts. I think this is your support letter because I consider you and your family friends...with LIVES geared towards helping others, not jobs being examples of impossible positions. I have been called a missionary myself, and I always reject the title...I LIVE to serve, not live to be seen.
I LOVE your blog, I read it at school like the guy above me (CSULB!), and the link is on my blog as well...because I know that real people can read this understand it, relate to it, and be inspirted by it...real change takes real hearts and minds and hard effort...not a sensationalist poem.
KEEP IT UP!