Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles . .
With the rapid pace of change over the last few weeks it has been hard to get fully to grips with all the stories behind the headlines. One of those headlines has been the effect of the Brexit vote on currency exchange rates.
The UK leaving the EU has meant that the value of Sterling has dropped significantly against many currencies. While news items have tended to focus on how this affects imports and exports or even the cost of holidays abroad, the drop has other implications. We know that some Christian Workers and charities who are working abroad are affected. In some cases the fluctuations in the rate have created as much as a 15% reduction in the exchange value of donations from supporters. Recipients have found their incomes being cut while bills and general living costs in their country of residence remain the same.
Stewardship is aware that the suddenness of the change raises financial concerns and in some cases the possibility of hardship. As always, the relationship between supporter and recipient is key in these circumstances, based on partnership in the gospel. While the role of the supporter is to ‘send’ and the recipient is the one who ‘goes’, the connection is fundamental and is strengthened by prayer and encouragement as well as financial support. There are times when one or all of these elements are needed in greater measure – as Paul underlines in Philippians 4: 10-20.
On one of our regular training days for Christian Workers we use the ladder analogy to illustrate how important supporters are to any ministry. Supporters effectively ‘hold the ladder’ for the person they support. Anyone who has ever been at the top of a tall ladder will understand how important it is to know that the person holding the ladder has a firm grip and is there to shout the odd word of encouragement.
It may be that you have already anticipated the needs of those you support or been in communication with them to find out how best to help. If not, we would encourage givers—particularly those who support Christian Workers based in countries affected by fluctuating exchange rates—to review their giving and get in touch with those they support to find out the level of impact it is having. Even if those you support are not immediately affected, we’d encourage supporters to review their giving in line with inflation each year as good practice.
As Paul says to the Philippian church, “it was good of you to share in my troubles . . .” or in other words—thanks for holding my ladder.