Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Contributions, Pledges, and Financial Partnership

This is an update to a previous post answering questions about pledging and giving.  Since some of that information has changed (now that we're on the field in Nagoya), we thought it important to post this update...

     Greetings!  Our family currently serves with Mission to the World's church planting team in Nagoya, Japan.  MTW is the global missions arm of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  Since our denomination does not have a centralized mission budget, we rely on the Holy Spirit to lead individual families and church congregations to support us on a monthly or annual basis.  
     Before moving to Japan, MTW required us to raise 100% of our projected needs through special gifts and ongoing pledges.  Since Japan is such an expensive field, that process was daunting, but God was faithful to raise up an army of supporters who have been contributing faithfully toward our ongoing support.
     Even though we are now in Japan, it's still important for new partners join our support team.  Financial situations are always changing for us and our partners.  Our budget may increase or decrease for a variety of reasons that are beyond our control (like the changing value of the Dollar and Yen).  There are also cases where churches or families have to stop giving prematurely, so, new partners often replace those who are no longer in a position to give.  It would be impossible to plan for every contingency, but we're trusting God to continue to provide for our needs by stirring up new partners as needed. Ultimately, we're in His hands...and that's very comforting to us!
     Our hope is that financial contributors will see themselves as as more than "donors".  We want you to realize that you're partnering with us in this work.  For new churches to be planted, there must be church planters on the field and senders at home.  Without both of those groups in place, new churches won't be started.  So, we're partnering together to make that happen.  Making a pledge is a way to partner with us to plant new churches among the world's largest unreached people group.

How to Make a Pledge:
  • Our Web Site:  The easiest way to make a pledge is just to go to our online form by clicking here.
  • By Mail:  You can print a copy of our donor card by clicking here.  Simply fill in the blanks and mail it to the address indicated on the card.  
  • Credit Card:  You can set up a recurring contribution using a credit card by following the directions in the next section (below).  Setting up a recurring credit card payment automatically registers as a pledge, so there's no need to also send in a prayer card.
Options for sending in one-time or special contributions (without making a pledge):
  • Personal Check:  You can mail personal checks to:  MTW Donations, P.O. Box 116284, Atlanta, GA 30368-6284.  Always include "Sinks, acct #17143" somewhere on the check or memo line.
  • Automatic Draft:  It's easy to set up an auto draft from your checking or savings account.  Simply print out MTW's e-giving brochure by clicking here.  Fill in the blanks and send it to MTW along with a cancelled check.
  • Credit Card:  You can set up a one time or recurring contribution using your credit card by going here.

FAQ's

What if I'm unable to keep my pledge?
You can change it.  Ultimately, we'll trust God to raise up another donor to take your place.

How long will my pledge remain in effect?
Until you change it.

Now that you're on the field, do you really need new pledges?  What if I want to just send in a regular contribution.
There are many people who send regular contributions but haven't felt led to make a pledge. We're incredibly thankful for those folks, and they fill a great need every month. We never pressure anyone to pledge or give. However, making a pledge does help us plan and strengthens our sense of partnership with one another.

Will I receive a bill each month?
No, but you will receive a receipt each time you send a contribution.  That receipt also serves as a reminder to send in the next month's contribution.

Are contributions to MTW tax deductible?
Yes!  All contributions are tax deductible.  You will receive an official statement for your taxes at the end of each year.

I have another question...
Please feel free to contact us directly at grace4japan@gmail.com .  You may also visit the donor section of MTW's web page, which is located here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

"Do you want that TO GO?"

This is just a lighthearted story from a few weeks ago.  Maybe it'll provide a chuckle at our expense and also give you another peek into our lives here...

Thanksgiving Lunch with our Team
     It was the Friday night before Thanksgiving, and Gina had promised to make a green bean casserole for our team's thanksgiving lunch on Saturday afternoon.  In case you (like me) have never made a green bean casserole, you need to know that those crunchy onions on top are absolutely essential to the recipe.  This fact is important to the following story...as is the unhappy reality that the aforementioned crunchy onions are a little hard to find here in Japan.
     To put things into context, we were on our way home from a shopping trip where I'd reluctantly spent $7 each on light bulbs (yep, go back and read that again...it's not a typo).  Gina pointed out that she'd seen some fried onions on the bar at a local udon restaurant where we'd eaten lunch the day before.  She asked if I would please go inside and get an order of fried onions "to go" so she could use them on her casserole.  Probably that seems like a reasonable and simple request...but NOTHING in our lives is simple right now!  I immediately started thinking about the mental effort it'd take to communicate that I wanted those fried onions..."to go".  After having spent so much energy (and money) buying light bulbs, there was no way I was going to such trouble for a casserole.  I started shaking my head before Gina even finished her sentence.  I explained how the casserole would be just as good without the onions on top...in fact, I surmised that it might even be BETTER!
     As I walked from the car to the door of the udon shop, I opened up "Google Translate" on my smart phone and started to put a plan together.  I looked up the Japanese word for "box" (bo-ku-su) and rehearsed it a few times before walking in the door.  When the lady behind the counter looked my way, I smiled and said "konnichiwa!"  She obviously understood my greeting, and I felt a flood of confidence wash over me.  I proudly pointed to the onions, opened and closed my hands like I was holding a take-out box, and pointed from the onions to the front door, saying "bokusu, deska?"
     Yes, it's alright to laugh at me...it really did look as silly as it sounds.  The lady behind the counter was doing her best to keep a serious face and listen intently, but she didn't seem to understand.  So, I repeated myself a little slower (and probably a little louder, because that's what we Americans do when someone doesn't understand us).  She left me hanging for what seemed like an eternity...pretending not to understand.  Then, in very good English, she said, "Sir, are you saying you want the fried onions take-out???"  I smiled sheepishly and replied, "Yes...I'd like the onions take-out...thank you."  She turned around and told the man behind her to put some fried onions in a take out box.  Actually, I'm pretty sure she said a bit more than that based on how they all laughed after she finished!
     You'll be relieved to know that Gina's casserole turned out great and was a big hit at our team lunch.  In fact, the fried onions from the udon shop were even better than the canned ones she'd used in the past, and everyone wanted to know where they came from.  So, I expect this won't be my last trip to the udon shop for fried onions.  Next time, I'll just tell them I want an order of onions "take-out"!