Well, it's official, my blog is number one--all others are number two or lower. I can't quite remember where I got those statistics, but you'll just have to take my word for it--I know a statistics professor.
Also official, is my appointment as a full-time, short-term, missionary apprentice in Spain (don't ask me how I will ever fit that onto a business card). Although I was offered the position last week, I guess it wasn't "official" until I got the letter in the mail, which happened today. Maybe the reason they don't want you to trust what they tell you at the sending center is that faith, it seems, is blind, and they want you to have a Hal Lindsey type faith. Just like his proposed dates for the end of the world have come and gone, but he still hangs on, World Harvest Mission wanted me to trust that even if that letter of appointment never came, and my departure date passed by, I needed to believe that it would somehow miraculously happen. Ok, maybe a better explanation is that all the people in the Sending Center are really just super-intelligent robots, and the only way for their decisions to become "official" are to print them off in the form of a letter and send them to a guy in a white suit somewhere who looks like Colonel Sanders (like the architect dude in the Matrix), who then signs the letters "Ward Shope" and sends them off to Missionary Appointees.
Anyway, I'm a little nervous about raising support. I've never had to raise money for a missions trip before--granted, I've never gone on a 20 month long trip either--and since my move to North Carolina, I have grown increasingly averse to accepting gifts from people. I don't want to be labeled a free-loader, nor do I enjoy feeling like one. The fact that I am raising God's money for God's work among the lost will need to be an ever present reminder. Also, I am learning a few things about why raising support can be very helpful to whatever ministry a missionary might have. Here is a list of a few of those things in no intentional order:
1) It creates a community of prayer for the ministry.
2) It gives people an opportunity to be blessed by giving, to store up treasure in heaven by getting rid of it here on earth.
3) It connects those who have vocational callings within their home country to God's work in the rest of the world.
4) It builds stronger relationships, founded on the Gospel, between people who may have otherwise lost touch.
5) It creates reciprocal prayer as supporters pray for missionaries and missionaries pray for the needs of their supporters.
6) It causes all parties involved to live by faith, not trusting in their own self-sufficiency.
This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it my attempt to coerce you ('you' being the five people who know about this blog) to give me your money, but it is a few of the things I have been learning as I try to peel away my pride in preparation for support raising. Seriously, though, give me all your money (just kidding).
In more spiritual news, I'm going to see "Nacho Libre" tonight. Brian and Roseena said that "Bend it Like Beckham" was an accurate representation of South Asian culture, and I'm hoping that "Nacho Libre" will help me better prepare for ministering in Spain (even though the movie takes place in Mexico, which is nowhere near Spain). I'll let you know if it is funny and educational.