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This letter is designed to answer the most frequently asked questions concerning finances for the mission expenses as well as Karen & myself support. It's only reasonable that before people send donations they want to know how much it is needed and how it will be used.
I should start out with a disclaimer. The economics of the "Kingdom" is not rational to our minds. When Jesus fed hungry thousands with the little boy's lunch it could not be explained how that worked. They just did it and went on with the program. But look at what happened! First of all there was poor financial planning for the event. Things grew beyond expectations and the only sponsor was an obscure child with a small lunch, who was raised in poverty. You see, the team was focused entirely on ministry, not the logistics. God delights to laugh at difficulties and teach us lessons about Himself. Remember also that the disciples were in a panic. They were envisioning bodies strewn along the trails leading back to the towns as people with blood sugar problems passed out trying to get home. They were feeling an impending disaster that would spell the end of everything they were doing. But see how calmly, and without fanfare, the God we serve met the need, and excess food was piled up at the end! Jesus was well aware that this event would be studied by his ministers in much the same circumstances for thousands of years.
I'll write this letter backwards so you get the specifics before the principles and reasons. How much support do we get? First of all let me list our avenues of support. We have our parent organization in the U.S. which is the Evangelical Bible Mission. They provide no financial support, but serve as an accountability head organization. Designated funds in U.S. currency are receipted by them and passed on to us by donors that specify donations for us. These funds 'average' about $600 a month. In September it was $515 and this was less than average. These funds are considered support and we pay Income taxes on this and file as self employed. Also, still from the U.S. we have four churches from my home area, where I grew up, that consistently send a total of $515 every month. Now, both of these U.S. channels have sporadic donors that send funds from time to time. A number of donors send funds as they are able and it varies greatly from month to month. We get several of these donations from $10 to several hundred dollar checks consistently, but they vary greatly. Although these funds can be used for personal support most of it is needed for field operations.
Moving on to Canadian funds, we have our Canadian office at New Norway, near Camrose. Bruce Fraser is our treasurer there and does all the book work and banking. One thing I need to make clear is that the Canadian organization is called Canadian Inland Mission and was started by Wayne Aman. It was joined to the Evangelical Bible Mission. It is a registered Canadian charity and issues tax receipts for Canadian funds. However, we have it set up so that all the funds that are receipted by this office have to go into the mission 'field operations', to simplify book work and make it easier to function with the government. Otherwise, no funds receipted by this office can go to our person support, although it can pay utilities, housing, and things like that. We don't have to do the extra paper work to channel any of these funds to our personal support because we never have enough funds in this account to cover all the field expenses anyway. We have two churches that send in $300 a month each to this account. We have several individuals and churches that also send in funds regularly to this account but I haven't seen the record on that for a while. In June the account received was $1545, in July $3165, and so far in August $435. The large amount in July reflected funds raised for our VBS's.
As you can easily see it costs a lot more than what is listed above to pay the bills and keep things going. The answer to the mystery is that the considerable 'rest' of the budget comes from frequent one time donations. Sometimes people we never met or ever heard of will send a one time donation that gets us over the hump and pays the bills.
How much is spent? We spend everything we get. By far most of it goes into field operations and equipment. Karen & I live on a small amount for personal. Our biggest personal expense being food. We have so far to go to town for mail, groceries, and mission supplies that we often have to eat in town, which is expensive. We have just a couple hundred in a savings account, and by the time we complete our current projects for this next month we will have nothing left, plus an $8000 debt for the Caravan. Karen & I own no land, property, or investments simply because the needs are always pressing and we have a 100% commitment to the work we are doing. My Mother is elderly and must be supported by the family, but my brothers and niece provide for her support and have not asked for our help with her bills. The same goes for Karen's mother.
So let me digress a little to give some history in the development of our current situation. When Karen & I started working together, and I had been on the field eight years before that...we were very isolated in the middle of a large Indian Reservation with no access to any "White" churches for many miles. This basic condition has been the norm ever since. So we had a very simple policy of three basic principles. We believed that if we adhered to these principles, the Christian churches and individuals would easily discern that over time, and provide our logistic support. These principles are: #1-It is very important that we have a full time grass roots, relevant, effective ministry that occupies our full time as opposed to a part time 'hobby' type ministry. In reality we are on duty 24 hours a day 7 days a week! #2-Financial accountability is essential. We have almost nothing personal that is not an important part of the mission operations and we are not reluctant to compare how funds are used with any other mission operation. #3- We maintain a requirement of absolute adherence to moral, ethical, character, and legal standards for ourselves and those who work with us. Karen & myself have no black marks in any of these areas, and if anyone who wishes to work with this mission has anything that would disqualify them we will not allow them to be a part of our work.
It is our belief that these principles are very important to the Christian community in determining if a missionary and his work qualify for support, and if so, then the community has a sense of responsibility to stand behind them. In spite of this we have to report that the amount of financial support that comes from the churches in the Rocky Mt. House area is a total of $50 a month, and individuals add another $100 a month.
So why has the local area had such a limited involvement? Karen and I are totally immersed with our time on the Reserve in the mission and it's outreach. We simply do not have time to spend working on raising support other than newsletters, maintaining a web site, and communication mostly by phone. When we go to town we have a long list and never get to do everything that is on it, and then come home late and exhausted. Sunday is our busiest day. If we closed our church doors to do deputation on Sunday we wouldn't have anything to come back to. I do not have the business type skills to work with people in whatever way it takes to raise money. I simply expect them to observe, over the years, the three principles listed above, and feel a responsibility, but my expectations are wrong. I have been told by pastors, and other missionaries going to foreign fields that I can not expect Denominational churches to support us because they take care of their own works and our support must come from individuals. I find it unreasonable in my own conscience to neglect our ministry in order to concentrate on fund raising. I would expect people to say they will support us if we keep busy doing what we are supposed to do here, and find fault if we spend our time in town fund raising. I have examples of churches in the past that went to some effort to seek us out because they heard that we were here doing what we were supposed to be doing, so they wanted to help.
I was raised in a culture that considered it a disgrace to accept a gift of support no matter how bad you needed it. I remember as a four year old child when our electricity was shut off because Dad would not accept help from any one. I can remember when all we had to eat was soup made from onions. Therefore the greatest difficulty I faced in considering a missions career was the concept of living off of donations. It was by far the hardest thing to face and I just couldn't imagine accepting that method of support. Then, I graduated from a Bible college that adhered to a hard and fast principle of never asking for any financial support. They maintained an association of a large High School, Bible College, radio station, farm, and about 20 outstation churches for many, many years and never asked for money, but prayed-in every cent. They prayed for what they needed and God supplied exactly in the manner of George Muller, the man who ran the orphanages in England by prayer.
So it has been a long road of learning (it is an acceptable method) to have a program of "asking for" support and does not dishonor God or show a lack of faith to do this.
My first 20, maybe 25 years on the mission field was lived in abject poverty. Of course, none of us knew at the time, that we were poor. I don't consider this to dishonor God because I actually have a lot of fondness for those memories and affection for a simple lifestyle. It served greatly to endear ourselves to the people we ministered among, and therefore was essential because we were all in the same boat. Those people love us dearly to this day, although they haven't seen us for years. If I really expect the reader to understand our values I have to risk sounding sensational in explaining our background that formed these values. So I mention some of these things, not for pity or sympathy but merely for understanding. (When Paul went off on a tangent similar to this he said he was making a fool of himself!)
My first year on the field on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota I held seven services a week over an area of 80 miles. I received $50 a month from headquarters and another $15 from Mrs. Virgil Ice, my childhood neighbor and relative. I paid for my own vehicle, operating expenses, living expenses, absolutely everything from this money except for a little extra at Christmas. My food was Government surplus commodities that was distributed on the Reservation and I only got some of the leftover boxes that people gave me that they didn't use. I remember going to the store just to look at the food and daydream of what the one "can" I would splurge on when Mrs. Ice's check came. I figured I could spare enough for one can of something. So I could only look and dream and leave empty handed until the check came. I couldn't buy license plates for my vehicle and had to drive without them. This was OK at that time on the Reservation, but not on the State roads. Even though I knew all the back roads, there were times I had to sweat it out on the highway. My first year, when winter came I didn't have a stove in the parsonage or any way of getting one and it was cold, especially getting up in the mornings. Finally, the man who owned the bar at Scenic, in the Badlands, gave me a wood stove, and invited me for the Friday evening farm feast every week and every time I left his ranch, sent me home with frozen goods out of their freezer. I don't remember any one from any of the churches that surrounded the Reservation ever visiting or helping that year. Just one man, Rev. Hamilton, a rather eccentric man came to help me pray with the people, for he was a man of prayer. The next year my brother gave me a 7mm and I started hunting deer and lived like a King on deer meat.
When Karen & I got married we lived in a shack. I remember leaving a can of pop on the table and it got so cold over night when the fire went out that it froze solid and busted. When summer came it was too hot inside to cook on the wood stove so we cooked over a fire outside on the ground. None of these things hurt us at all. It was far better than being rich. The only negative poverty memories I have involve our children and I won't speak of those.
So perhaps the reader can begin to understand the dynamics behind our finances...why we do what we do..why our expectations are as they are, and how hard it is to adapt to our church surroundings to make this work in a different way.
All I know is that as this work grows now, we have to find some way of raising the necessary support so we can continue training Christian workers in this most effective grass roots school of learning and impacting these Reserves with true Christian love. We have to make a special focus in the immediate future to raise adequate funds to keep the work going.
In His Service, Rodger & Karen Rinker
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