“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
In many ways Paul’s words to the church in Philippi rang true for us in 2011. In some areas we have experienced plenty, and in other areas want. For the second year in a row we had a significant increase in total receipts. Giving to our estate fund accounted for most of it. In 2011 we received $1.7 million in gifts to our estate fund, while total donations to the Prayer League exceeded $4.2 million. This gave us a chance to learn how to live with plenty.
Disbursements to missionary allowance, however, did not rise. Donations to designated support funds and the mission’s General Fund are the primary sources for missionary allowances. During the past year donations to those funds increased only slightly. We received over $1.1 million to designated support funds and $575,000 to the General Fund. This slight increase in donations, coupled with a slightly greater increase in fielding costs, resulted in slightly lower allowance payments. Full allowances were paid twice during the year – the same as the year before – but the overall amount of target allowances paid decreased from 83 percent to 81 percent. Some of our people had the opportunity to learn the secret of contentment while living in want.
Part of the reason for increased fielding costs is the high cost of health care. Thankfully, rising health care costs have tapered for us a little. Our U.S. plan increased only 1 percent in 2011, while the international plan had a more typical 13 percent increase. While the lower rate of increase was a blessing, health care expenses still accounted for 31 percent of missionary fielding costs.
Ministries of the Prayer League include Biblical and spiritual training through a wide variety of means ranging from radio broadcasts to classroom training. WMPL is also involved in social ministries such as hospitals, clinics and human rights groups. We received $430,000 in donations designated for these projects in 2011, down 11 percent from the previous year. Need for these projects varies year after year. Our experience has been that the need is met year after year.
God gave us the opportunity to learn the secret of contentment in every situation in 2011. When we rely on Christ for our strength, we can accomplish all the things that he has put before us. What a blessing it is to serve our Lord!
In December we were able to pay 100 percent of target allowances to all of our missionaries. After all allowances were paid, we had $99,213 remaining in the General Fund. Thank you for your ongoing support!