As a worker in the Christian ministry field I love my job. I get to meet up with girls one-to-one, which I personally find really energising, and read God's Word with them. What a blessing! I get to co-lead a Bible study group and come up with ideas for sharing the gospel with others. This is my job! Jealous much?
However with every vocation there are good points and difficult points. One particular difficulty for me is that I need to fundraise in order to continue being employed. That is my fellow Christians need to see the need for sharing the gospel at the university I work at and support me in order for me to do this. Anyone who works in ministry has had to do this at one time or another and knows it is really difficult.
Why do it this way?
Why do we do ministry this way? Why do I fundraise instead of getting a part-time job and supporting myself? In fact, why don't more Christians decide to work in the world part-time and use their other time to share the gospel with others voluntarily?
That was not Paul's expectation in his first letter to the Corinthians (chapter 9). Paul said that he surrendered his rights to ask for material gains so that there would be no stumbling block to the Corinthians. At the same time he says it's a 'right'. He says that those who work for the gospel should earn their living by that gospel.
And yet, for myself, I am employed to do 12 hours of work for Christian Union. That leaves 28 'working day' hours where I could be working somewhere else and supporting our family that way. Why do we still need to fundraise?
The work I do would not work without prayer. By God's grace I am in this field of work. However God doesn't want me working alone and so the organisation I work for also doesn't have this expectation. Instead I am one of a team of people (i.e. those who support me to do this work) who are reaching out to students at university.
When I share the gospel with others everyone behind the scenes praying and supporting me is helping. This is encouraging, as if you have been supporting others in gospel work for a while, then you may have enabled someone to become a Christian!
The thinking goes that if you are financially supporting someone then you are more likely to pray for them. This thinking is what has led to the model of ministry I am a part of. I am not to go out and find part-time work to support myself. I need people around me to be invested in sharing the gospel with university students.
No matter how many times I justify to myself that asking for others to support me in ministry is necessary, it is still hard. It is tempting to seek other employment so that the burden on other people is less.
However I need to remind myself that being a Christian is like being in a family. We support each other. Because I don't do work elsewhere this allows me to be flexible with my hours. I have more time slots to meet with students and, let's be honest; I will tend to work more than 12 hours a week during term time.
So next time you get asked to support a worker in ministry remember that you are supporting more than just that person. By partnering with someone you are helping share the gospel with others. What a privilege and joy!
Rachel Bartlett lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband James and her puppy Pip.
Rachel Bartlett's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/Rachel-Bartlett.html