When we speak with many of you about our missionary service in Africa, we have encountered some of the following questions. Some are ones we’ve just asked ourselves. We hope the FAQ below will help adequately answer some of the most common questions.
Q: Why are you serving in Africa when you had already spent so much time in Asia?
A: It made sense to us that the Lord might lead us back to Asia, not Africa or anywhere else. I, Matt, had spent seven years in Asia, and I speak the dominant language there. Eva had spent four years in Asia, and that’s where we met and spent our first year of marriage. The place and the people are on our hearts. We can really only explain the leading to Africa as the surprising hand of God. You can read our story here. Still, even though this took us by surprise, the position we will be taking up in Africa weaves together many of the threads that have defined our lives over the past five years: family, marriage, children, education and Christian missions. Until recently, I had very little inclination to do missions in Africa. But I recently started praying that the Lord would open my eyes and “expand my heart” to be more like His. He has been answering that prayer, and Africa is part of the answer. I believe God wants our family to have a global focus on what He is doing around the world. RVA hosts students from 22 different countries, and their parents serve numerous people groups in the various countries in Africa. We want to be burdened for the things that burden the heart of God, wherever they may be found.
Q: Does the Rift Valley Academy pay you for your work as a teacher?
A: No. Those who fill teaching positions and other support staff positions at the Rift Valley Academy are fully-appointed missionaries with Africa Inland Mission. It made sense to us that as teachers of missionary children, we ought to be missionaries ourselves. And because the school is run by an army of volunteers, it tends to draw very dedicated staff.
The willingness to partner with others to raise support represents a change on my part. Eva and I had looked at paid teaching positions that would allow us to minister overseas, but we didn’t have the peace, together, to move forward. It wasn’t until I “stumbled upon” the opportunity to teach at RVA that I was ready to pursue a faith-based support model.
As missionaries, we are responsible for developing a network of partners willing to join us in prayer and in giving. While the majority of financial contributions to us from individual donors will be allocated directly to us and our ministry, 13% is reserved for AIM’s administrative costs. Our prayer partners and financial supporters are absolutely crucial to the functioning and success of this ministry.
Q: There are so many mission organizations. How did you decide to join Africa Inland Mission?
A: We were first drawn to the needs at Rift Valley Academy. When we researched the school, we learned that it was started by and is administered by Africa Inland Mission. We quickly learned that to teach at RVA, we would need to be appointed missionaries with AIM. We had been ready for some time to go back onto the mission field, and the more we learned about AIM, the more strongly we felt about God leading us to RVA. AIM’s mission is to see “Christ-centered church among all African peoples” and their priority is “Africa’s unreached.” Having been involved in church planting before, this vision resonated with us. It excites us to be involved with an organization whose focus is on those who have never heard the gospel before. Eva and I look forward to helping to equip the “next generation” of missionaries to these groups.
Q: Why does it seem to cost so much to live in Africa?
A: The startling fact is, in some respects, it does cost a lot to live in Africa. Certain expenses are significantly higher in Africa than in the United States. Gasoline costs almost $6 per gallon. It may cost more to power a house in Kenya without A/C or heating than it does to power a fully cooled and heated home in the U.S.
We will be supported by your monthly pledges totaling $5,920. That amount covers everything from monthly salary, ministry expenses, social security, housing, home assignment (furlough), medical, retirement and administrative costs. Africa Inland Mission sets the amount to make sure that its missionaries have what they need to minister effectively in their field of service.
Q: How long do you plan on staying in Africa?
A: Indefinitely. Eva and I have felt led to international missions since we got married. In many ways, the past six years of our marriage have been preparation for this moment. Our first year of marriage was spent ministering together in Asia. The next year we lived in the Czech Republic close to Eva’s family awaiting Eva’s visa to the United States. Three years after arriving in the U.S., Eva was naturalized as a U.S. citizen. All along, we had hoped her obtaining citizenship would facilitate our future ministry overseas . The last five years spent in my hometown, Harlingen, allowed our family to serve together with our church family and prepare to go out again.
Eva and I have been approved as full-term missionaries with AIM. We will serve 2-3 year stints in Africa followed by several months of home assignment, or furlough. After reconnecting with our partners at home, we will then go back to Africa and teach again at the Rift Valley Academy. We will serve in this capacity unless the Lord leads us otherwise. We do not, however, have a job or a house waiting for us back here in the U.S. This really has been “the next big thing” for our family.
Some have expressed interest in supporting us financially and wondered how long they should expect to support us. We can only answer that just as the Lord has asked us to go in faith, we only ask that our financial partners give in faith as long as the Lord leads them to do so.
Q: What are your needs, and how can we support you?
A: We covet your prayers for our family, our ministry, and those we will minister to. We will be updating our Facebook page and sending prayer newsletters regularly via email. If you would like to commit to pray for us, please fill out a newsletter signup form here. And please share with us, on that form, how we can pray for you. We consider our ministry to you at least equally as important as our ministry at RVA. We look forward to sharing God’s blessings to us with you. In addition, we are also still praying for monthly financial supporters. Please visit our financial support page here to see a progress chart detailing the financial needs of this ministry.
Q: Donors often ask the question, “How much of my gift to a missionary’s support actually goes to the missionary?” or “The support target of the missionary seems high. How is it all used?”
Administration Costs: 13.5% of the total support target is for administrative fees which are paid to AIM’s US and International Offices. Most of the activities of the US Office directly benefit the missionary. These include travel arrangements, securing visas and work permits, banking services, income tax assistance, and direct payment of bills from missionary fund. This assistance from the US Office enables our missionaries to devote more time to their ministry. The US Office also processes all incoming donations. The International Office coordinates the work of missionaries from seven sending councils and working in 22 countries.
Missionary Benefits: 37.5% of the support target is for missionary benefits, including medical insurance, retirement funds, and housing/field administration on the field. Most retirement funds are intended for the missionary’s individual 401(k) account, but a percentage is to help maintain AIM’s retirement center and assist current retirees. Part of the support target also pays the employer portion of social security.
Ministry Costs: 49% is for ministry costs which consist of direct ministry costs, missionary salary, and Home Assignment (furlough). Direct ministry costs may include travel, literature, equipment, supplies, freight and customs. The missionary’s salary is based on living costs in their country of ministry. Salary is used for expenses such as food, clothing, children’s education, social security taxes, vacation, and other personal expenses. The Home Assignment funds pay for travel to and from the field and for expenses while in the US.