It has been several years since I sent out a regular missionary “begging letter” for Genie and myself. In recent years our letters have requested funds for special mission projects we were involved in (a particular mission trip) or for some general Family Missions Company need. Genie and I have been living on our FMC salaries (about $2500/month for the two of us), and our mission expenses were being covered by FMC, because we did “staff work” assigned to us by FMC.
Now Genie and I are stepping out of our roles as president and vice-president, and we will no longer be salaried. Although we will always remain the “founders” of FMC, and will be available to help here at the office whenever called upon, nevertheless, we will not be salaried or occupying job positions or desks in the FMC office, and will be free to go about like itinerant missionaries again, as the Lord will lead us.
My son, Joseph, and his wife, Brooke, are taking on our salaried work here at the office. They have served as our understudies for several years. Genie and I have spent special time preparing them and our Board of Directors, staff and current missionaries – all look forward to Joseph and Brooke taking over. We believe their leadership will equip FMC to surge ahead in work the Lord is calling it to; they will do a better job than Genie and I can do. At the same time, Genie and I can spend our time doing work we do best: going about proclaiming the Word everywhere; ministering to the poor and oppressed; and encouraging brothers and sisters around the globe who are trying to build faith communities and evangelistic apostolates – all the while struggling to give witness as a family in mission, striving to live a holy family life.
I remember that my family returned to Abbeville in 1995 because at the time a crisis in our family prevented us from continuing in foreign missions. I then returned to the practice of law to support my family. While in the States we have sent our children to the universities, where they fell in love, courted and were married. They are raising their families now – we have 14 grandchildren (two more grandsons on the way). Genie was here to nurse her grandmother and mother on their deathbeds; and she has been nursing her invalid father. I am able to sit with my bedridden mother, sharing God’s Word and His love together.
In 1996 we founded Family Missions Company. For seven years I supported my family and contributed to the financial support of FMC with earnings from my law practice. Then FMC grew enough to pay me a salary, and I left law practice to work fulltime as FMC’s president here in the office, making several trips annually onto the mission field. Here we have been invited to speak and conduct retreats, and many people come to visit us. Genie has published her second book, Our Family’s Book of Acts.
Each year we have conducted a special three month “Intake” program to receive, train, and send out foreign missionaries. A minimum two year commitment is required of them. We have sent out hundreds of these missionaries; and they have served in scores of countries around the globe, mostly living among and serving the poor, engaging in all sorts of missionary evangelism, while submitted to the Roman Catholic Bishop of the place, faithful to the Church and its magisterium. There are 85 of these trained missionaries serving with FMC today.
FMC has sent out a couple of thousand short term missionaries (families, laity, clergy and seminarians) in groups gathered from church parishes and universities around the country, who serve for a week or so alongside our fulltime missionaries. They return to their faith communities better informed about the Lord and themselves as His disciples; they return home knowing they are all called to the apostolate, and eager to be missionaries serving to build God’s Kingdom wherever they are. We have borne witness that the Church is by nature missionary, that foreign missions is the greatest and holiest duty of the Church, that we know Jesus is the Messiah because He preached the Good News to the poor, that when we serve the poor we meet Jesus in them, that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of missionary evangelism, that signs and wonders and miracles are to be expected in the work of evangelism, and that the Great Commission is urgent and essential to Catholics and all mankind today….
FMC and our 85 missionaries are operating on a budget of about $500,000/year. The Company has purchased or had donated seven buildings which have been repaired for use as our office and living quarters (Big Woods Mission can accommodate about 42 persons) and a retreat house (Our Lady of the Bayous can accommodate about 35 people). We calculate that out of every dollar, 95 cents is paid out in project services, 4 cents in purely administrative costs, and 1 cent into fundraising. Our newsletter, SERVE, goes out to 6,000 families, communities, ministries, churches and individuals, throughout the U.S. Our website and missionary blogs are read by many (visit them yourself – http://www.fmcmissions.com). We regularly make missionary appeals, speaking at Masses in churches in our Diocese of Lafayette and elsewhere, and conduct parish Lenten and Advent missions, and speak at large conferences, and at schools and to all sorts of small faith groups. We are receiving more than 5000 individual contributions a year.
Yes, Catholic lay missionaries and families can serve in the greatest and holiest duty of the Church! Our Church can go forward to fulfill its Great Commission in the world today, right now!
Well, if we’re going to serve as missionaries again and keep our house at Big Woods operating then Genie and I need to revive our “Benefactors List”. Each of FMC’s missionaries raises their own funds, to cover missionary expenses. Genie and I are receiving small social security checks and a small amount each year in oil royalties. But in order to dedicate ourselves fulltime to the apostolate, we need additional funds to cover the expenses. (Like all of FMC’s missionaries, we have chosen to live lives in “gospel poverty”.) Sometimes we receive speakers’ stipends, but when we go to evangelize the poor, they do not pay us to do it; and we want to fund projects to provide material assistance to them. So we have to rely on the generosity of benefactors who decide to be part of our mission.
Will you consider being a partner in our mission work? Can you make a generous donation to help us? There is so much need – literally billions of people are waiting to be evangelized; so many suffer dire poverty, waiting and hoping that someone will help them. We urgently ask your prayers for the people God sends us to, and for us to persevere and to be faithful and diligent in our service to them as missionaries. We will pray for the Lord to bless you and your loved ones abundantly.
One more thing, while on staff, Genie and I were able to use the FMC vehicles. Now we will have to drive our own vehicle. Do you know anyone who could donate a vehicle that is in operating condition? A minivan would be great, but we will accept anything.
We love you and greatly appreciate your prayers and moral and financial support – thank you, thank you, thank you! God bless and repay you a hundredfold!
Frank & Genie Summers