According to Mike Riggins of the North American Mission Board, there are 180 Self-Funded Collegiate Missionaries working with the SBC on college campuses. I serve as one of these missionaries at Penn State. There are great resources with how to do support raising, but here I want to look at the benefits of partners.
Support raising is a part of my job, and not my favorite part either, but here are benefits with having partners.
- I am forced to create a team of partners, and that is awesome! I have an email list of almost 150 individuals that I can call upon to pray for me and the work of God amongst our students. Any minister can have a prayer team, but ours comes hand in hand with support raising. There have been many times I have received encouraging emails from supporters at just the right time that have meant the world to me as a minister.
- I have a growing network of people to connect to incoming students. Supporters have a vested interest in the ministry and can play recruiters in their home towns as they know of incoming freshmen coming to our university. I still have connections in the state convention, but this makes personal connections with students from broader backgrounds (necessary for emerging region work) and is further reaching.
- Not only will partners support you as a missionary, but will support your students with ministry needs. I have seen this at work in two ways. First, I have partners who tell me to let them know when a student needs a scholarship for a conference or mission trip. We can honestly tell our students if money is the reason you can’t go, we can make a way. Secondly, I have partners who want students to work for them after college. This is win-win! It helps students find a job, as well as I connect them in believing professionals in their field to help them as a resource in both career and navigating their new home.
When I came out of seminary, I promised myself that I would not go back to a support raising position, but as I got a call about serving at Penn State, I sense God leading me to go. I support raised for 3 years prior to seminary and over 4 years since. My predecessor did it for 28 years with 4 children. God truly provides!