Are you willing to go anywhere and do anything I ask of you? In 2006, Aileen Agoncillo felt the Lord was challenging her with this question. As a paid employee of Wycliffe, Aileen was already using her marketing and communication skills to serve the Bible translation team, yet something tugged at her heart. God, it seemed, was prompting her to join Wycliffe as a supported staff member—a status change that would require her to forego her current salary and, instead, build and maintain a team of partners to encourage her, pray for her, and give financially to cover her Wycliffe ministry needs. Since paid staff positions are fewer and less flexible, the change would also open doors to greater service opportunities in other roles and locations.
Aileen began the membership process and by August 2007, she was fully engaged in partnership development activities, building her team of prayer and financial partners. In March 2008, Aileen had reached her partnership goals and was ready to take on a new job assignment in the Philippines. “The day after I hit 100 percent of my Wycliffe ministry financial budget goal, my mother was diagnosed with Leukemia,” said Aileen. Her departure for the Philippines was delayed for almost a year as she helped her family during that tough time. Still, she was able to do some work remotely and eventually made it to the Philippines where God consistently provided for her for more than two years.
Aileen returned to the U.S. in 2011. “At that time I was open to how and where the Lord might have me serve next in ministry with Wycliffe,” she said. She made the decision to take an assignment in the U.S., but as a result, her monthly ministry budget increased significantly—almost twice the amount that it was when she served in the Philippines. Aileen said, “It took me two years to further develop my ministry team to cover the increase.”
The first time, partnership development had been a fairly easy and smooth process, but now it seemed much harder. It also took longer. “There were moments during the process that I was really ready to give up,” said Aileen. “I was tired. I was discouraged. It was taking a long time.” There were periods when it seemed like no progress was being made. “There were times that I felt like it would be easier to get a ‘normal job,’” she said. “In some ways I was surprised by God’s faithfulness and persistence with me. He didn’t give up on me in the times of deep doubts and questions. He encouraged and reminded me in very real and tangible ways, at the times when I needed it most.” Those reminders included things like coming home to find a four-page handwritten letter with words of encouragement; getting a phone call from a partner saying they’re praying; and receiving an email announcing a new financial partner.
The experience brought Aileen even closer to God. “All things are God’s,” she said. “He can and does provide all things in the way that He chooses.” Aileen knew that if God wanted to, He could provide everything through a single ministry partner. “But I realize that God is about relationship,” she said, “—relationship with Him and with others. I think partnership development has been about growing me in both those regards.” Aileen sees it as a privilege to have a team of partners and getting to build those relationships. And of course, it has impacted her personal relationship with God: “Do I really trust Him? Do I really believe that He provides and cares for me? What do I believe about His goodness? I was surprised at some of the deep issues that God was working on in me through that time,” she said.
To encourage prayer for Wycliffe staff who are doing partnership development, Aileen said, “It is a spiritually challenging exercise—pray for truth to reign in their hearts and minds. Pray for their relationship with God as they are challenged with what they believe about themselves and God. Pray for people to surround them, people who can be a great encouragement.
This article was produced as a companion piece to the May 2014 edition of the Intercessor newsletter. Click here to read more and see prayer requests related to Wycliffe missionaries and partnership development.