by Elizabeth Sharon Morris
Sitting in an airport on my last leg home after a two week break, I’ve been doing some work while waiting. While away these two weeks, I finished reading five books – one of which was a book by Corrie ten Boom. It gave me lots to think about – the least of which is how she managed funding for her post-Holocaust ministry. (I say the “least,” because, obviously, she had many vital things to say.)
But, equally obviously, these comments got my attention. She determined early on never to ask for money again. She would leave it to God. Her thoughts and prayers aren’t unlike those of George Muller or the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. They all supported their ministry through prayer and faith.
It interested me because we have survived these last …almost ten years now… with extremely limited funding. I have asked the Lord many times through those years why, if He seriously wants us to do this ministry, we don’t have more funding. It was confusing because, you would think that money would be a confirmation of blessing on the work. Why have we never been able to build a good legal fund?
Yet confirmations were coming in other ways; primarily from families telling us how grateful they were that we were there for prayer, friendship and referrals to attorneys. They thanked us for being here and understanding their problems and emotions. This seemed to matter more to some than whether or not we had funds for their legal battle.
Now I am thinking about how some of the recent attacks from our opponents have included accusations that we have “just been in this for the money.”
I had to laugh when I heard that. I’ve never had a salary for doing this. But… although salary would have been nice and many times I thought I would burst trying to do this work while working a “real” job at the same time – a salary apparently wasn’t necessary. We survived without it. We have also been blessed in that an office and major office expenses were also unnecessary. My functional desk cost $25 at a rummage sale. I found two boxes of paper (20 reams of paper) that someone was throwing away three years ago or so, and still have about 8 reams of it left. (So if you wondered why your newsletter paper looked a little…well, not bright white…).
Our biggest overhead expense is simply the cost of getting the word out / teaching those who haven’t gotten the message – i.e.: our job as an advocacy and ministry.
Yet…when the rubber hit the road and money was needed for Veronica – people in South Carolina and across the country raised it and almost $40,000 went through our system and out to the attorney’s.
So when it was vitally needed – the money was there.
Further, when we have gone to DC to speak to Congressmen about ICWA – the money has been there. People want us to go to DC, so they help with that.
And maybe that’s all that was ever necessary. Maybe, despite my earlier concerns about funds, we have always has exactly what we needed.
Now – we want to grow in areas of our ministry. We want to have a home to help parents and families with substance abuse – patterned after Teen Challenge, but a long term facility where parents can stay WITH their kids and learn and grow together, as a family, so that they don’t have to be separated while one or both parents get treatment.
But I don’t want to worry about the funding. When the time is right, I want to trust the Lord to for it.
I asked one of our pastors who I was with these last two weeks (I was at the Bible College campus where I got my B.A. in Christian Ministries) if I should take the donation button off of our website, but he said, “No. You have to provide an avenue for those who decide they want to give.”
I need to talk to our board about it more and see how they feel.
I like looking back and seeing how the Lord has always provided what’s been needed.
I also like that money has rarely been wasted – because there hasn’t been any money to waste. (Waste would be things like the brand new stapler that broke the first time I tried to use it – and then never had time to bring back to the store.)
And…I like that opponents can’t say we are in this for “money.”
Amen, amen. I have had a great two weeks and am ready to get back into the saddle.
Elizabeth Sharon Morris is Chairwoman of the Christian Alliance for Indian Child Welfare and author of ‘Dying in Indian Country.’ http://dyinginindiancountry.com/
Originally published July 15, 2013