The Surprising Sources Of Our Support by Travis Sharpe

Sometimes people assume things that aren’t true. Recently, someone commented to me that it must be nice to have a ministry that big businesses can donate to. They assumed that because our ministry is non-profit, we have lots of big-time businesses writing lots of big-time checks.

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Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, yes, Unsheltered International is a 501c3 non-profit organization, but we don’t operate because large corporations write large checks. As a matter of fact, we don’t have any large corporations donating. I’m not against that, and I would certainly welcome them, but the bulk of our support comes from common working people, churches, and small businesses.

Think of it as a mom-and-pop operation. This year we have had donations from just over 170 families. Most of these families are hard working, God-fearing people who want to be a blessing to people who are in need. They want to use the blessings God has given them to help change the lives of someone else.

Most of our supporters enjoy the fact that we provide food, clothing, shelter, and medicine for children and families in need. However, what I mostly hear from our supporters is that they are happy that we keep the gospel message as the first and foremost thing that we give. By spreading the gospel, we are spreading hope and love and joy. These are eternal things that far surpass any earthly treasure we could give.

It would be impossible for me to mention every gift, or even most of them. But, I do know the circumstances surrounding a small few of our supporters gifts this year and I wanted to share them with you. My purpose in sharing these is to honor our supporters and to prove that lots of love and sacrifice are what helps us meet our budget and help so many people. It’s not the government or some nameless corporations, it’s families and churches and small businesses that care enough to give. These are the backbone of our organization and I am so very grateful for each and every one.

A few of the awesome stories from this year

A husband told his wife that he didn’t want a Christmas present this year. Instead, he wanted that money to go to our Philippines ministry. In his honor, his wife increased their monthly giving by $25 for 2016.

Our family spent the night in a cottage at a campground in TN during the month of December. The owner of the campground was excited about our ministry and when we checked out the next morning he gave us $500 for our Fall Fundraising Campaign. We had never met before.

This summer, one of our best supporters graduated to heaven after a long, hard fight with cancer. Her husband is now continuing her legacy of giving by donating $50 per month. We both agreed that his late wife would be proud to know that he continued to support a cause that was so near to her heart.

After visiting my dad’s church in KY several weeks ago, two dear ladies gave me checks. One was for $15 and the other was $100. Both are regular givers.

I had the privilege to preach at a growing church full of young people in South Carolina a couple weeks ago. They gave the largest offering they had ever given to a missionary. It was $600.

Earlier this year, the VBS kids from one of our supporting churches in GA donated all of their VBS offerings to our ministry. The church matched their offerings and the total gift was $2,500.

I spoke on a Wednesday night at a church in Savannah, GA and the pastor encouraged the congregation to give extra, at a later date, if they felt led to. Today, several weeks later, we received a $70 check from one of the members.

A business owner in Cullman, AL gave a $200 check from his business and a $200 check from him and his wife. They graciously give each year.

My mother gives $25 each and every month. She has for well over ten years now. To my knowledge, she has never missed a month.

A friend of our who lives in GA, heard that we were going to buy land to build an orphanage. This family sent us a donation of $4,001.00. They know a thing or two about orphans. They have two teenage children whom they adopted several years ago and they are looking forward to being a part of helping more orphans as the years go by.

A life group at our church began sponsoring one of the meal centers that we have in the Philippines. This group of senior citizens give $200 each month to meet the needs of the meal center for the entire month. These seniors who live in Alabama are providing for dozens of families on the other side of the world.

One of the members of my dad’s church in KY is in his mid-eighties. I was visiting with him a few weeks ago and he told me that he had only intended to give $100 last month. However, there was more money in his account than he thought so he sent more. He told me he wasn’t sure why there was more in his account but as long as there was more, he would keep sending more.

A young pastor and his wife from Ohio donate $25 every month. Even though they also have a missions ministry and a young family, they care deeply about the homeless and enjoy contributing.

Back in November, a very generous supporter sent a donation of $750 to help one of the meal centers until the end of the year. A few weeks later, he sent an additional $3000 to help with several more meal centers. He wrote me a very kind letter thanking me for what we do. He asked to remain anonymous.

Some very dear friends of ours gave a generous donation of $3000 last year. They did the same again this year. They expressed their gratefulness for the ministry we carry out as we enjoyed dinner together. They graciously minister to our family every chance they get and they are happy to know their gifts are really making a difference in the lives of others.

Tonight, as I was finishing this writing, a couple from our church stopped by our home with a nice card and a check for $200.

A very good friend of mine, who is the President of a mission organization himself, sent us $50 this month. It was a special day of giving and he gave to our ministry instead of his own.

In conclusion

As I mentioned above, the stories listed here are only a small sample of a much larger base of givers. I love and appreciate every gift, large or small. To me, the givers are more treasured than the gifts. Without givers, there would be no gifts. Thank you, everyone, for your help, your generosity, and your love for others.

Merry Christmas,

Travis Sharpe