I wonder what was in that one newsletter I never sent out.
I was in my second year serving as a missionary with InterVarsity. Amy and I had just recently gotten engaged. I found myself ministering at a great school - Washington and Lee University - in a chapter threatening to collapse.
I don't know what I wrote about, but I wrote a letter to my ministry partners. They supported the work financially and I know some of them prayed for me. They would want to know what was happening on campus and with me.
I wrote the letter, printed it, stuffed it into envelopes, addressed the envelopes, put stamps on the envelopes, put the letters in a bag and, seven months later, found the bag-letters-envelopes-stamps sitting on my desk.*
I'm not sure why I didn't send out that letter. It wasn't disorganization. I didn't lose the letters. I think it was because I just didn't feel like I had my life and ministry put together enough to justify asking people to support me.
Engagement was hard. Amy and I did not enjoy that season of our relationship. Marriage has been much better. And that first year at Washington and Lee, it was kind of a disaster. I didn't fit with the students and the chapter wobbled and started to shrink. Why would anyone want to support that?
"Losing" my newsletter didn't change anything about my situation. It just made me deal with it all by myself.
Over the years, I learned to let my ministry partners into my ups and my downs. And they have been just as faithful through the downs - when I needed them the most - as they were in the ups.
For people working in missions or parachurch ministry, don't hide your downs. You don't have to share all your junk. But your partners can handle some of it. They probably will be honored that you trust them to share it with them. Let them be there for you when things are hard and it will make it all the sweeter when things go well and the sun breaks through the clouds.
For people who support missionaries, you know that ministry isn't going to be all sunshine and daisies. Life just isn't like that. Reward someone who's honest about going through a rough patch with empathy and prayer. Walk with them through those seasons. They may not make it without you.
And this world needs more people like them.
*Don't worry, I never filled out an expense report for this disaster, so the financial bonk was on me.