Monday, September 22, 2014

Mission funding gets creative

Liberty students sell goods and perform music as a new approach to raising money for mission trips

“Buy a donut to help send me to Southeast Asia,” one student yelled as she stood outside of the Vines Center before Convocation. Students at Liberty University are always finding new ways to raise money for their mission trips.

Guatemala made — Chris Cannon sells souvenirs through Facebook to raise funds. Photo provided

Liberty frequently sends out mission teams to help spread the Gospel. Students who volunteer for these trips usually raise their own money, and many get creative in their efforts.

Nikko Stuart, a junior majoring in audio broadcasting, went on a mission trip to Italy last June. Stuart said that he raised money in several different ways before he left, including holding a benefit concert, posting statuses on Facebook and selling bracelets and desserts.

“Facebook was very convenient and could get the word out to all of my friends quicker than asking individually,” Stuart said. “I also know people love music and will pay to watch and listen, especially for a good cause, so I thought that (the benefit concert) was a good idea.”

While many students said that raising money can sometimes be a strenuous process, Stuart said that he found it enjoyable. According to him, he scheduled a benefit concert in Towns Auditorium, which was moved to a smaller classroom because of complications. However, the move only helped his proceeds, and he was able to receive donations for his entire mission team.

“I think it turned out better than it would have in the Towns Auditorium because everyone was so close together,” Stuart said. “It felt more personal.”

Chris Cannon, a senior majoring in criminal justice, took an alternative route to raising money for his mission trip. Cannon went to Guatemala the same summer Stuart went to Italy, but instead of raising all of his funds beforehand, he received donations during his trip.

During the three months that Cannon spent in Guatemala, he sold souvenirs through Facebook that he bought in Guatemala as well as original songs that he had recorded through iTunes.

“The missionary we were working with in Guatemala mentioned that it would be a good business plan to buy souvenirs cheap in Guatemala and sell them for profit in the United States,” Cannon said. “Instead of doing it for profit, I did it for fundraising.”

However, other students prefer a more typical form of fundraising, asking for money from friends and family through letters and other correspondence.

Tom Sosin, a junior majoring in psychology and Christian counseling, took the more direct route of asking for donations. Sosin has been on numerous mission trips since going to Germany in 2009, including living in Norway for the past four months in order to be a more hands-on missionary.

“I sent out letters and then intentionally followed up with people — on the phone, face-to-face,” Sosin said. “In three months, God built my monthly support team, a network of churches and prayer warriors consisting of people of almost every profession.”

According to Sosin, instead of getting all the money he needed right up front, a support team gave him smaller amounts of money each day he was on his mission trip. Sosin learned about this technique through his career missionary preparatory course, which helps prepare students for mission trips.

“God put people in my path,” Sosin said. “All credit to him.”

From seeking donations to selling goods, Liberty students raise money many different ways, but the goal remains the same — spreading the Gospel to all the world.

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