On August 16th I began doing the missionary-prep thing full-time. The first stage of full-time missionary-prep involves this amorphous thing that I’m calling “support raising.” Other terms are “deputation” and “itineration.”
This means that, in order to function in Tanzania, I need to have a large network of folks in North America who are behind me. They’re praying for me. They’re keeping in touch with me. And they’re providing the finances to fund all aspects of my work as a long-term OCMC missionary.
This is a system with its downfalls and its uprisings. The best thing about it is that, once I arrive in Africa, I will have spoken face-to-face with hundreds (probably over a thousand) people who know me and are personally interested in my work and well-being. Hundreds, God willing, will be remembering in their prayers, and at least fifty will be sending monthly gifts to OCMC to keep me going.
It means that the largest aspect of “missionary boot camp” is the campaign to raise up that team of supporters. For me, this involves a great deal of travel.
Since going full-time on August 16th, I have visited twenty-one parishes, seven OCFs, two monasteries and one community outreach center in twenty-five cities, eleven states, one province, and two countries. (I traveled through seven additional states on the way to other places).
It’s hard to complain about this. I’ve seen many parts of the continent that were previously unknown, and received warm hospitality at the hands of strangers. I’ve witnessed the missionary work of the Orthodox Christian Church here in North America; and have talked with faithful Christians endeavoring to bring the Gospel to North American mission fields far more difficult than what I’ll face in Tanzania.
For the time being, I’m in Cincinnati– until the New Year, God willing. This new phase of “deputation” involves the large network that has been built up over the whirlwind travels of the past twelve weeks. I do believe that the rest of my supporters are to be found in the very long list of people who have asked me to stay in touch with them. My job now is to stay in touch with them.