I’m thankful to be speaking to you today. One of my most common prayers before work, or even when just meeting with friends, is that I’ll provide encouragement by the time we part ways. Let it be so here, today. I ask this in Christ’s name.
I had the privilege of sharing some brief testimony at last year’s conference. If we haven’t met, my name is Daniel Bidulock. I’m a Wycliffe Bible Translator and Language Software Developer for SIL International. I came last year looking for people to finance my mission. I will always need new financial supporters, but am happy to report that for the next six months, I am receiving a full salary and have been released to my missionary assignment. Even if it’s only temporary, this is a great joy.
Lots of people have heard about Wycliffe Bible Translators. Fewer have heard of SIL International. SIL was founded in 1934 by a man named Cameron Townsend. Roughly eight years later, in 1942, that same man founded Wycliffe. SIL International are leaders in language software. We provide the tools of literacy no one else does. When a language can’t be written down, we create the alphabet. For these new writing systems we create physical and onscreen keyboards. We create literacy apps to teach people to read. We also provide many translation tools used by the Lutheran Bible Translators.
All of the tools we create are used in conjuction with other tools. And all of these tools have moved, or are moving, onto the World Wide Web. I am a Web Developer. I write software for delivery over the Web. My small team is working toward bring tools and people together in a way that has never been done before in the world of Bible translation.
I’ll spare you the gritty details, but we are developing what is called a Single-Sign-On service. Everyone who uses SIL software will gain access through our portal. Millions of people - missionaries, volunteers, native language speakers, and translators from different agencies - will gain fast access to SIL tools and the global translation community. Millions of lives will be impacted directly and indirectly through our shared effort.
God provides for me and my family. He has allowed me the opportunity to impact millions of lives for the next little while. Without continued support, my part in this will end. I bring an opportunity for you and your church to impact millions of lives by partnering with me, Wycliffe, and SIL. Ask God if this is for you. May His favour rest upon those called to join this work today. I ask this in Christ’s name.
Fundraising, or what we call Partnership Development is difficult, but joyous work. The part I enjoy most are the new relationships and friendships it brings. If not for the opportunity to build God’s Kingdom, I would not know many of my supporters. To some, the idea of contributing directly to a missionary is a new idea. It’s not new at all. In my travels, one of the funnier things said to me was, Wycliffe’s fundraising methods are old fashioned. There’s no doubt about that. The whole scheme is laid out in the Bible.
Here are some other funny things people have said to me…
While speaking to group in March, one elderly gentleman raised his hand and asked, But don’t we have computers for all that now?
Admittedly, the nature of my work is a barrier for many potential supporters. Computer programmers grapple with things it takes a lifetime to understand. Even having spent actual decades doing what I do, there will always be more to learn. One supposedly computer-savvy gentleman allowed me to share my work and testimony. At the end of our appointment, he said I am now convinced your work has merit. I was grateful for the opportunity to turn the other cheek. He even gave me a generous one-time donation a few months later.
I have a bunch of funny, but frustrating stories like these. Almost two years into my fundraising, I still occassionaly hear muttering coming from certain unnamed quarters… they say things like If only we knew more about what Dan does… They mutter, but in every case I’ve asked these people for the opportunity to share my work and testimony. I even named my website whatdandoes.info so that people can learn more about what Dan does. If you want to know what Dan does, go to whatdandoes.info. Better yet, come talk to me. It would be a privilege to sit with you, one on one, and explain what I do. And yet, every now and then I still hear whispers, If only we knew more about what Dan does…
Here’s another: I can’t avoid naming names in this one… concerning my call from God to translate His Holy Scriptures, I recently learned that my church council, would have appreciated a heads up! All grace and love to Council. Know that I love Saint Peter’s. It is a joy to bring my family there to worship.
In spite of the frustrating moments, fundraising is not the burden many suppose it to be. That said, it has revealed a few problems with Lutheran culture and attitudes about money. My family and I were invited to speak at a church last summer. One couple invited us to their home that same Sunday evening to learn more about what Dan does. They were gracious hosts and we enjoyed the time we shared. In that time they challenged me and my wife to Imagine what an additional $250/month in passive income with Amway could do for your mission.
Yes, this is hilarious. It is also deeply concerning, because it betrays a lack of basic secular financial literacy. Forget Biblical financial literacy for the moment. Canada is a nation of debtors. In my fundraising travels I’ve talked to all sorts of people. An accountant named Thomas Copland from Toronto runs a financial ministry. He told me that Canadians are second only to Greeks in terms of consumer debt. We are not managing our money in a Godly manner and it is starving our churches and Christian missions. Worst of all, we’re not teaching our children how to handle money.
Though grim, we have an opportunity to show leadership. So far I’ve discovered no Biblical money resources for youth and youth groups. Come see me right away if you know of any. Teaching kids about money is a spiritual and practical necessity. The health of your children’s families depends on their ability to manage the money God provides. Let’s start talking about this. Come talk to me. Teaching youth about Biblical money management is a part of my long-term ministry. I need young supporters.
I have lots of funny stories. My prayer is still to be an encourager, but I need to share a couple that make me angry. I am grateful for the support I’ve received through my church, Saint Peter’s Lutheran in Cochrane. Council has given $5,000 to my mission two years in a row. This is wonderful and I can’t say Thank You enough, but it also causes problems for me. For example, knowing Saint Peter’s generosity, one parishioner declined my request to share work and testimony because he already gives through the church.
This is not uncommon. Individual Lutherans are deferring their personal responsibility to the collective. This is a destructive and dishonest attitude. I also give through the church. Our tithes to Saint Peter’s alone were $4,252 in 2018. How does this work when we all give through the church? It can’t. Apart from our home church, my family supports another missionary family and missionary organization. There are also the freewill offerings that don’t get included on our tax return.
Don’t think I’m bragging in any of this, because I’m only being obedient. Hear my testimony: By managing our money in a way that pleases God, our personal savings match our generosity. My family needs a vehicle that can seat at least six. We have no intention of financing. Godly stewardship has rewards and cash buys options. Those who give through the church are missing out.
Here’s a prayer I hear often in missions-minded circles: Please send us more workers for the harvest. We have plenty of workers. Last year I learned that we were expecting nine new graduating seminarians. How many this year? Where are they going to serve? God has provided plenty of workers. Our prayer needs to change… we need to ask, God, how should I invest in building your Kingdom? The workers need to be paid.
Know I mean no offense, but here’s another thing that frustrates me: People say, You should talk to CALC.
CALC is not designed for this. CALC cannot help me. I have talked to CALC, and have no expectation of any sort of assistance. In a way, CALC itself is a problem for me. There are two sides this. On one side you have people with a sincere expectation that CALC can support me in some way. On the other side, it’s just another way to defer personal responsibility to the group. Let me ease this burden. Supporting me is not CALC’s job. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. All lines are open and your interest will be received with joy.
I am thankful for being allowed to speak to you today. My prayer from when I started remains the same. Be encouraged. You may think it incredible, but I’ve never been discouraged. My call is clear and I’ve had no doubt that God would provide. Be encouraged that despite some problems, God’s hand is in it all. I am blessed that Saint Peter’s has many generous individuals and families. The support I receive goes beyond the financial. I am blessed with the burden of sending many Thank You cards this Christmas. My supporters at Saint Pete’s understand that what I bring is an opportunity to be blessed. They understand that the work of Wycliffe and SIL International requires generosity. They understand that obedience to The Great Commission builds a better world today and that their contribution is part of a story told in eternity. They like to give to me directly, because they know exactly where their money is going, and exactly the impact it’s having. Let God give us more opportunities like this.
I suspect that many of my supporters enjoy a savings account that mirrors their generosity.
Be encouraged that I bring this opportunity to you and everyone in your church. All lines are open. Come talk to me. If you get too close, I’m definitely going to talk to you. Let’s figure out how we can build your congregation and prepare it for when He raises up new missionaries from among you. Let’s all ask God how we can invest our money in His work. And let’s all be obedient to His call. God, how can we teach our congregations - and our children, most importantly - how to steward your resources and share your Good News. Let us know your limitless abundance and let our generosity reflect this. Let our families and lives reflect your glory knowing that money will never run out. It’s only our time on this earth that is limited. Let us make best use of what we’ve been given so that You will give us even more when You return (Matthew 25:14-30). In Jesus’ name, amen.