I’m going to be honest. Raising support is tough and I’m not enjoying it much. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been moments where God has shone through the dust and frustration and has revealed himself in ways that wouldn’t have been possible without this process. I’m also entirely convinced that we need to go through this process, not just to raise money so we can cover our expenses during our MMS Aviation apprenticeship, but to prepare us spiritually and emotionally for the hardships on the field.
In fact, Keith, our support coach, told us today that in his 20 years of coaching missionaries during their support raising, he’s learned that how people handle this process says a lot about how they’ll handle their ministry. That’s sobering because right now I feel a little bit like an Amsway salesman. I call up an unsuspecting relative or businessman. “Hello Bob? This is Josh Snader, Jeff’s kid. Hey, I have a great investment opportunity for you.” Click. “Hello?”
Some days I just sit and stare at the phone for an hour. Then the other day it struck me that some tribe or people group may hear the Gospel for the first time because I was able to call Bob and get a meeting. I’m not selling Tupperware, I’m getting people involved in the Great Commission. That’s something worth selling! Tupperware is fine too.
If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small. – Pat Morley
That’s why we were in Pennsylvania again. I had a few merciful souls who had agreed to a meeting with me about supporting our ministry and so I lined them all up at local coffee shops, one after the other. If you meet me and I’m jittery and shaking, it’s just because I had back-to-back meetings at a coffee shop. When you’re full of the Holy Spirit, and four shots of espresso, you can’t lose! And even if you do lose, it’s hard to get depressed about it.
At the end of my life I want people to look at the story of my life and see such a crazy collusion of coincidences that the only conclusion they can draw is that God is real and that He intervenes on our behalf. That can only happen if you allow yourself to be put into uncomfortable situations where God has to intervene (like raising support). I find those stories typically aren’t radical earth stopping miracles but rather an infinite series of tiny ones that can by almost unnoticed if you aren’t watching. This weekend had a few of those tiny miracles.
I was meeting with a fine young gentleman at a coffee shop. At the end of my speil he leaned back in his chair, chuckled a little, and said,”You know, I felt for awhile that I wanted to find someone I could support regularly just so I would be more consistent with my giving but I never really got around to it. Then you messaged me and asked for a meeting and I thought, here I go. Perfect!”
Huh. Imagine that.
Maybe a fun way to keep track of all the small miracles along the way would be to buy a Spitfire model and then mark every small “coincidence” that happens as a “victory” on the nose cowl, just like they did in World War II after each enemy they shot down. This is spiritual warfare, after all!
Another purpose of the trip to PA was to pick up the Snap-On tool chest that “Mr. & Mrs. Hippenhammer” gave me (read about that here). Now, I’m used to cheap tools. A cheap tool chest weighs maybe 75 pounds and will roll easily when you want it to stay put and will stay put when you want it to roll. They are ornery contraptions but the alternative is to carry several sets of wrenches around in your pants. This means your pants are constantly trying to hug your ankles and it sounds like Santa’s sleigh crashing through a cymbal factory whenever you stifle a sneeze. Being that I’m working for a mission organization, it would be best to keep my pants properly adjusted for maximum modesty and so I was delighted to have the Snap-On box to hold my tools! The only problem is that it weighs 600 pounds and took three grunting men to push it onto the trailer. The plan was to swing by the hangar at MMS Aviation on the way home and drop off the box in the hangar. This saved us the trouble of moving it again several months from now once we have all our support raised.
Of course, all these plans of hauling around a 600 lb tool box meant I had to install a hitch on my trusty rusty Dodge Caravan. Forgive me for the technical lingo here, but I had to remove four big bolts and then put them back again. I barely even had to read the instructions. The problem started when I went to take the bolts out. They were pretty rusty, which is no surprise. Michigan salts their roads like McDonald’s salts their french fries. Of course, sliding off an icy road into a tree is also hard on a car so maybe the lesson here is to live where there isn’t any winter! Obviously a real man won’t let a little corrosion get in his way so I soaked everything with penetrating catalyst and whipped out my two foot breaker bar and applied generous amounts of torque. This worked fine until the second-to-last bolt. It waited until it was halfway out then flipped me the middle finger and snapped in two. Now, you may think that bolts aren’t capable of making crude gestures but experience tells me different. At times I’m tempted to return the favor but again, that’s not what missionary mechanics are supposed to do. I think bolts may be the most crude of all auto parts; except for water pumps, obviously. It didn’t help that it was cold, windy, and snowing and it was the night before we needed to leave for Pennsylvania. I had just made everything complicated. I decided the best course of action would be to just attach the hitch using two bolts and then finish drilling out the broken bolt after I got to my parent’s house in Pennsylvania. Then I could use my dad’s tool arsenal and I wouldn’t be doing it in the dark while laying in a Michigan snowbank. When you’re not laying in a snowbank it’s actually easier to keep your cool, ironically. There was actually snow at my parent’s house but it was about twenty degrees warmer, so that helped.
My dad and I got it done but let’s just say it got more complicated than removing four big bolts (again, sorry for the technical jargon). It also involved traveling to several different hardware stores multiple times. Making multiple trips to the store whenever a tiny project needs to get done is a fine tradition fervently practiced by all the Snader men.
Overall, the trip was very successful. We had four verbal commitments for support and one “maybe.” We don’t hold it against anybody for not supporting us since there are many worthy causes out there; we don’t claim to be the only one. We just plant the seeds and let God give the increase. At times I may try to put some fertilizer on the field to help things along, but you get the picture. We also got the hitch installed and the tool box transported so all our mission goals were completed!
Two days after we got back to Michigan, my boss called me. “Hey, I bought another truck in Florida. Do you want to fly down there and drive it back? You could fly down Friday and drive it home Monday if you like.”
I looked outside the living room window and saw nothing but gray skies and snow, with a little ice breaking up the monotony. “Yes, I think I’d be able to work it into my schedule.” I said.
“Great! Can you leave this weekend?”
“The sooner the better,” I said.
So, before we even have the van unloaded we’re packing again. The boss is generous enough to buy plane tickets for Janice and Adi as well. Of course, I felt bad for dragging my poor family all across the country.
“I’m sorry to make you travel again, Janice.” I said. “You could just stay home and I’ll go pick up the truck.
She suggested I could go hang out with polar bears while she travels to Florida. “You could also babysit Adi.”
“I don’t think it’s safe to babysit kids with polar bears around. Besides, I’m the employee. I need to go along.”
Traveling to Florida this time of year to pickup vehicles is tough, but somebody’s gotta do it.