Saturday, October 18, 2014

7 Lessons Learned From Raising Missionary Support

I am excited that I will be returning to Africa in two days! I am getting back to work. Over this last year, I've met more people, gained more supporters, learned new ways to serve. Here are my top seven lessons learned since returning to America.

Mike Squires' Advisory Team: Doug Naruo, Al Roselius, (me), Derek Witty, Samuel Hatton

These lessons represent my own personal obervations.

(1) Not every missionary assignment is funded in the same way

I began serving as a missionary in 1994 with a denominational mission agency, with guaranteed salary and benefits. Support-raising was desired but not required, and I received only several hours training in it.

My second mission agency was a faith mission, which means we had to raise all of our own financial support; and we were supposed to tell that we had a financial need but not ask people to donate a specific amount. So I was not adequately trained in support-raising.

(2) Raising funds takes longer than you plan

During the 20 years since I began serving as a missionary I have knocked on many doors looking for people interested in missions, have discussed my missionary service with many people, and was known by many but supported by few.

(3) Raising funds is a lot more difficult than you might think

I wondered why it took so long to raise the necessary financial support. I had some formal one-on-one fundraising appointments, and discussed informally with lots of people, but the general attitude was “we’ll send you back to Africa - someday.”

It took much longer than expected to find the “people of peace’ who would get actively involved in the ministry God has placed on my heart. I encourage people to serve God where they are while supporting those who serve God elsewhere.

Apparently I was meant to raise awareness of global mission to a wider range of people. Raising missionary support involves talking to LOTS of people because we don’t know who God has prepared to respond.

(4) Just because people say they want to help, doesn't mean that they will financially support you

Numerous people expressed interest in helping me in some way, but failed to come through. So I had to ask many different folks to see who would actually get involved. People have accepted to help with only specific activities. That is one reason it took so long to raise the necessary financial support.

(5) Aim for "earning your keep" to cut costs on rent

It is preferable to seek lodging that is free or at least inexpensive, perhaps working part-time at the church instead of paying rent.

(6) Participating in many Bible studies is the best way to study up on the Word

This keeps me grounded in God’s Word, and connected to numerous other believers with whom I can share how I explain these Bible verses overseas. I participate in Bible studies or other small groups with various congregations, a total of 14 small groups at seven congregations. I am also very involved in men’s ministry, and have participated in 15 men’s retreats with five congregations.

(7) Form an Advisory Group / Missionary Sending Team

Recruited people to pray for my missionary service; encourage and advise me on fundraising strategy.

In summary, fundraising isn't always done the same way. Some people get funding from churches, some people get funding from one-on-one appointments. However, for me, it didn't work that easy for me. Proving that I am worthy of people's attention and support by adding value was key.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Transformative Testimony - A Call To Missions

I serve as a missionary with the Team Expansion church planting team in Ghana, West Africa, teaching Bible lessons, and helping train church leaders involved in Church Planting Movements among Unreached People Groups.

Mike Squires teaching Malaria prevention in Africa

My Childhood in Humanites

When I was 12 years old I decided the purpose of my life was to help people. One way to do that was to serve as a Peace Corps agricultural volunteer in West Africa. I started studying West Africa when I was 12 years old, it has always fascinated me.

Son of a librarian and social worker, and nephew of an environmentalist, I grew up in libraries, surrounded by information, and studying the geography and history of every country in the world. This training prepared me to serve as a resource person: inventorying, gathering, processing and disseminating ideas, information and resources.

The Death of my Parents

Over the years 1975 and 1976, when I was only twenty-two, my parents died. The emptiness inside deepened. I realized that I needed something more stable to anchor my life. Reflecting upon their lives I have tried to use their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

Interest in God

I became somewhat interested in God to add additional meaning to my life. However, I didn't become a Christian because I didn't have a Bible in a translation I could understand, and no one invited me to church service, Bible study, or youth group. All in all, I felt insecure due to my parents’ divorce and that they couldn't be counted on for emotional support and encouragement.

I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer 1977-80 in Mali, West Africa and then later in 1988-94 in Togo, West Africa.

Saved by God through Missionaries

I myself am a product of the foreign mission field. Missionaries led me to Christ in 1978 while I was 25 years old serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the town of Gao in the Sahara Desert of northern Mali, West Africa.

Since receiving Christ in to my life I have known peace, the security of God’s love, and the promise of eternal life. I have found the spiritual resources necessary to face the many difficulties of life. This transformed my life by revealing my purpose, that God created me to serve Him by having a positive impact in peoples’ lives, that it was God who called me to Africa before I even knew Him, and that I will never be the same because of these things.

Mike Squires teaching The Role of the Christian
My thinking has been transformed to understand that God created each of us to love and serve Him and our fellow people as agents of change and transformation, the Great Commandment and Great Commission, despite obstacles. That I must study why people behave the way they do, and what can be done about it, how changing our attitudes changes our behavior. That you cannot always change your external circumstances, but you can change how you perceive and react to those circumstances. That transformational development focuses on reconciliation of broken relationships with God, self, others and creation; and that teaching transformational development in a community leads to community transformation.

My Calling into Missions

One way I show my gratitude is by serving as a missionary myself. Since 1994, I've worked to mobilize others for involvement in missions. Missionaries served as role models during the nine years I served in secular community development. My involvement in mission churches was the equivalent of an apprenticeship, an on-the-job training in how to serve as a missionary in African villages.

In total, I have served in West Africa for 21 years: Nine years in the Peace Corps Mali and Togo; six years in Togo at the Lutheran Church in Missouri Synod; and six years in Togo with the Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Team Expansion Ghana works closely with the Wycliffe Bible Translators in local language media to spread the Gospel, so I am able to use the same skills I used with Wycliffe.

Transformation for Africa

I partner with God to help transform people’s lives. We bring encouragement and emotional support, giving the people of Africa hope. This results in their lives being improved both spiritually and physically. We also teach the people how to work together to solve problems starting with training leaders.

Mike Squires training African church leaders in leadership skills 
People have a great need for effective leadership in rural Africa. So I came to Africa to teach community development to budding leaders. The transformations that took place in Togo include:
  • hearts changed
  • people learned how to lead with character
  • people brought to Christ
  • churches built
  • communities went from nothing to something
  • and people learned about AIDS and other physical threats
Mike Squires teaching AIDS prevention in Africa
This training and mentoring has led to previous co-workers becoming the president and secretary of the national church, and the church becoming an independent, self-governing partner church. They are carrying on the work in Togo, freeing me to serve across the border in Ghana, about 250 miles from where I served in Togo for 16 years.

My vocation is teaching people how to work together to solve problems, and the villages of West Africa have many problems to solve, so I feel quite needed there.

Thank you for reading about the story of my personal transformation.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Difficulties of Raising Missionary Support

I plan to arrive in Ghana in October to begin my new missionary assignment if I have received the remaining 20% of the required financial support.

I have wondered why it has taken so long to raise the necessary financial support. It has taken much longer than expected to find the "people of peace" who would get actively involved in the ministry God has placed on my heart.

Appearantly I was meant to raise awareness of global missions to a wider range of people. Raising missionary support involves talking to LOTS of people because we don't know who God has prepared to respond. More of an art than a science.

I encourage people to serve God where they are while supporting those who serve God elsewhere.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Effective Short-Term Mission Trips

Our short-term mission trips should try to meet the needs of the host church. Let them tell us how we can most effectively help them help themselves. Then we can recruit and train people to help meet these needs. Our goal should be to strengthen the host church.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ghana, West Africa Missions - Getting together for Breakfast with Mike

Breakfast at  Big Apple Bagel in Castro Valley

I've never known how much goes into missionary work. Mike Squires and I have been getting together for breakfast every other week for several months now to discuss his Missionary work in the past. I'm blown away at how much of an integral part he was in the lives of community leaders when he was serving in Togo, West Africa for 19 years.

Going to Ghana, West Africa

Now he needs to raise funds for another opportunity, serving in Ghana, West Africa. Though he has many prayer supporters he doesn't have enough on-going financial supporters yet. But he'll get there. I've never met someone so valuable to the missions field as Mike. He believes wholeheartedly that God will provide. What a blessing it is to get together with him and discuss fundraising.

Want to get global?

If you are looking to be a part of something greater than your local life in your own town or city, supporting global missions is an incredible opportunity to expand your sphere of influence. Mike is always available to get together with anyone wanting to learn more about missions and support.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From California Missions to Africa Missions and Financial Support

As many of you know, I am eagerly trying to raise support so that I can go on my mission to Ghana in West Africa. Sometimes I get asked the following questions:

Why go to Ghana? AND What will you do there?

The need for Church Planting Movements in Ghana, a country a little smaller than the state of Oregon on the south coast of West Africa, is that some people groups are only 2% Christian.

The Gospel was brought to Ghana many years ago, but the ethnic groups I will serve have been resistant to the Gospel message since it wasn’t taught in their language, so they think it is alien, foreign to their culture. That is why we are working hard to provide the Gospel message in the language they speak at home. Our emphasis is on evangelism, discipleship, leadership training, literacy, health and agriculture. I give people hope that they can improve their lives both spiritually and physically, teach people how to work together to solve problems, and train leaders.

Mike Squires Training African Literacy Supervisors