Many of you have started planning for mission training with your students. Each year at the orientation, I teach students about the importance and proper way of putting a mission support letter package together. Regardless of the student’s situation, it is important to encourage them to write a support letter, not only for financial needs, but to also mobilize prayer supporters. Many of my students have difficulties with the support letter, so I want to share the “SUPPORT” acronym to help you guide your students.
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S- Send a hard copy: By the month of March, I usually receive an average of 8-10 support letters from current and previous students to send them on a mission trip. Financially, I am not always able to support them, but I find myself supporting those that send me a hard copy of their mission support letter. I fully understand that email is the preferred way of informing and communicating to people, however, a hard copy gives more of a personal touch to the supporter.
U- Unique personal story shared with the supporter: Although it is important for students to send lots of support letters to raise their fund, it is more meaningful to send letters to those that have had an impact in their life. The letter should not give the impression that it is a mass letter. It should be a personal letter to the supporter that includes shared memorable moments. The supporter should know they have a special place in the student’s life. In doing so, the supporter will share this journey with your student, either through financial support and/or prayer.
P- Personal prayer: In the support letter, it is also needed for the students to open up some of their personal prayer requests. It is through this vulnerability that gives the supporter responsibility to intercede in prayer and care for the students throughout the whole process of the mission training and the mission trip. I would recommend the students to make a prayer card for their supporter so that they can pray for them on a daily basis.
P- Prayer request from your supporter: As the students are sharing their prayer requests, let the supporters know that their prayers requests matter as well. I enjoy reading the support letters that ask me to later write down my own prayer requests so that they can pray for me during their mission trip. It gives me a sense of care that I am remembered and also a fellow teammate on this mission trip.
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O- Organized budget plan: A lot of times, I see my students write a great letter, but never inform me the need of the actual cost of the trip. The students usually just explain the reason for going on the mission, but forget to even mention why the funds are needed. I would suggest to the students to explain, in detail, the actual cost of the trip on a separate letter. I believe it is important to teach the student to be transparent with their support funds.
R- Response card: As the student finishes the letter, it is important for them to make a simple response card for the supporter to put in print their prayer request and pledge box to give financially. The response card also initiates the supporter to make a decision and act upon it quickly.
T- Thank You Card: After the student receives the support fund, the supporter would really feel appreciated and supported with a small thank you card to remind them you are keeping them in your prayers and thoughts.
It is a lot of work to put a support letter package together, but it gives the student an opportunity to learn that it is more than just about raising financial funds to go on a mission trip. It is also important for the students to experience God‘s work being done through the group of people who are praying for them throughout the trip.