Get Sweaty for Mission



Marathons, 5k runs and Tough Mudder events are back on the calendar again!

Over 600 people will be running through my tiny little town in Derbyshire next month and I’m giving out cups of water to folk as they run by – well, not just me, that would be mad – but I have a team with me from my church who will be ‘giving a cup of water to a stranger’ on what is always the most exciting day of the year in the life of my little town.

But my job’s relatively easy, isn’t it!? I’m just shouting out encouragement and not even breaking a sweat. I’m no runner but I think I can see what these crazy people get out of it when they cross the finishing line or crawl through mud – especially when there’s a sign on their back that says that they’re doing it for Cancer Research or Christian Aid or perhaps for a friend.

Personally, I’m a walker – I love nothing better than walking up and down hills and along riverbanks in my beloved Peak District here in Derbyshire. And yes, I’ve been able to combine two passions by doing those wonderful walks and, at the same time, raising funds for a children’s charity working in Kenya. I’ve even walked for Pioneers!

But what does this have to do with cross-cultural mission? Well, if you’ve ever had a friend who wanted to go to the mission field, then you’ll know how tricky it is to raise funds from amongst friends and family. It feels embarrassing at the very least and they might even wonder if they will ever make it out to that field hospital in Africa or that school in Asia. They need all the help and encouragement they can get. That’s where you come in…

If you’re one of those people who might get passed a drink on your run this year, why not run to help raise support for a friend or even to raise funds for the agency which is sending them?

Up for it?  Great!   I’ve listed below some links to calendars of runs or muddy events for you and me (well, only you, really) so you can combine your two passions – running and helping out a friend …or perhaps a lovely agency who sends mission workers 😉 ?!

“Whether you run, cycle, swim, climb or clamber… for the heat of the competition or fun with friends… Let’s Do This will help you find, book and share your next momentous experience.”

“Your gateway to thousands of inspiring, memorable and brilliantly sweaty experiences.”

And on behalf of your friend or agency, thank you! 😊


Photo by Igor Rodgrigues.

A Veteran’s Guide to FUNraising


Jill B, retired professional, but more importantly, mum of Lynn and mother-in-law to Piet, who work with Pioneers UK in Southeast Asia, has spent a lifetime raising funds for her daughter and other causes close to her heart. If, like me, you’re wondering how you might ‘do your bit’ for a Pioneers worker you know or for the office team who help hold everything together, then we can take inspiration from Jill’s experience and sense of fulfilment! She sat down (for two minutes!) to tell me about her experiences running stalls and hosting activities…

Mark: What do you enjoy most about your days manning the stand at a village fête or hosting fundraising days at home?

Jill: Meeting so many great people – the sense of working together, the friendships that grow, meeting the donors. Often, I’m told of another good cause someone is supporting and can encourage them in doing so. When fundraising for Lynn and Piet, I hear about other young people doing wonderful things in the world and know that if talking to me reminds them of others’ need of support, lots has been achieved. I’m grateful for the welcome I’m always given, the help offered when I’m on my own, the “good spots” saved for me, the visitors who come looking for me year after year.

Mark: What’s your main motivation for fundraising?

Jill: In many ways it’s to raise awareness – of Lynn and Piet and the work they do or whatever the important cause is. I’ve been to Hope Show [a popular village event in the Derbyshire Peaks] for at least 5 years and visitors often come to catch up on Lynn and Piet’s news and give generously for them. I go to a ‘Senior’ Ladies’ Knitting Group each year with an up-to-date PowerPoint of the family and their work and they ask lots of questions and they too give generously. People sort of ‘take ownership’ of them. The money is always welcome, but the interest and prayers are by far the most important. I always have boards, photos and maps on display. They catch attention too.

Mark: Does it matter to members of the public that it’s a Christian mission you are raising funds for?

Jill: No! The average members of the public identify with them as people who help others to have a better life, to have an income to meet their needs and to give their children a better future than they themselves have known. We have leaflets etc. for anyone to pick up. We’re Gideons too and take pocket sized New Testaments to give away, and usually find that 20-30 of these are either given or just disappear at most public events.

Mark: What advice would you give people wondering where to start in community fundraising?

Jill: Pray about it and then do something definite. Identify with the good cause so that you make all you say very personal –  “My nephew Joe”,  “Tom from our church” etc. Look at your own skills and resources and use these. Perhaps you love walking or baking – turn it into a way to raise money. Grab a stall at a community fair.  Look for others who are (or may  become) likeminded to help and support you. Sometimes you have to be bold and ask or even beg for an opportunity to fundraise or for equipment to use or goods to sell.

Mark: If people are working only by themselves, what activities or events would you recommend they do to get started?

Jill: Just start selling things to friends – plants/cakes/crafts/ handmade jewellery/jams – especially at times like Christmas and Easter.  If you’re a tombola person, hunt out prizes – it’s often surprising how many things you have, still in mint condition, that you don’t use. Clean second hand books go down well – look in charity shops. One charity shop sells me grubby soft toys cheaply – a wash in the machine, a tumble dry, the odd stitch and they’re as good as new!

Mark: Any final words of advice, Jill, before I set up my stall or bake my cakes?

Jill: The main thing is to enjoy yourself and to enjoy all the people you meet – a smile takes you a long way to success! And to remember that success isn’t the amount of money raised – though this is always good – it’s the seeds you’ve sown, all the people you’ve talked to, all the kindness that’s been spread, and much more!


Photo by Park Troopers.

Giving and the Great Commission


Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Jones, a lifelong SUM, Action Partners and Pioneers UK supporter from Southport. Recently I invited him to look back over his life supporting missionaries and share his views on giving. Here’s what Peter had to say:

“I first came into contact with Sudan United Mission (SUM) when a man called Peter Heaps came to speak at our school Christian Union. He even joined in our houseparties. I remember him helping us new Christians, only 14 years old, with our burning questions like, “Should I tell my mum and dad I’ve become a Christian?”! It was just a natural thing to support him when he went to serve in Nigeria.

I went to an SUM Houseparty where we were asked, “Are you willing to go anywhere for God?” I thought, “No!! You will have to make me!”

Two weeks later I was asked to go and work at my company’s head office in London! The day of the interview my Bible reading was Isaiah 55:12, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace!” I went, eventually becoming an insurance underwriter and without being ambitious, was given promotions and senior management roles over the years. It was just the grace of God, not me!

In 1977, when I was asked to manage my company’s work in Thailand, I said, “Only if I can visit my OMF missionary friend from church, in the Philippines.” It was such an insight.  Then the same thing happened a few years later when I was sent to Lagos, Nigeria. I got to see Eileen Veasey (SUM) for week – it really helped me to understand how important missionary work is.

You know, I’m a very average person who’s just had sufficient so I can support someone else doing a job that I can’t do – just like supporting my church minister – it just seems natural!

I remember reading a book where the author asked, “Why should I only give 10% to God?” It’s all His anyway. Far better that I keep a little and He gets the rest.

Although personal friendships have always been what started me supporting a particular charity – and I support a few – I notice that even though workers move on, retire or pass away, that charity still needs support. So I tick the ‘where it’s most needed’ box on their slips!

When I’m deciding to continue supporting a mission and not just the friend, I look on the Charity Commission website and check how they use people’s gifts – it’s the insurance man in me!  Pioneers is excellent – low overheads, careful spending. I know they’re a safe pair of hands.

And when I die? What then? Well, in Deuteronomy it says, “…for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). I think it should go back into God’s Kingdom rather than the government’s coffers! So I’m leaving legacies to the main charities I support, including Pioneers. It’s just good stewardship.”

Photo by Alyssa Kibiloski.