One cold, foggy February morning I rolled out of bed asking God how to pray. He told me to ask not for one, but TWO new financial partners to join our team today.
I’m stubborn. I refused. It was too much to ask.
The flu had knocked our family flat for over 2 weeks, and I was feeling like I hadn’t accomplished any “real work” in several days. There was no way two new families would start giving when I hadn’t written letters, had coffee dates or blogged anything new in more than a week!
Oh how gently our God teaches us! I knew the still small voice that replied to my stubborn refusal and feelings of unworthiness…
“Is building your team about your work?? Or is it about my work?”
I bit my tongue. He was right, of course. This whole raising-missionary-support thing was not about me, and what I could do. I reluctantly prayed God would add two new families to our team that day, in spite of our illness and inactivity – in spite of the fact that not one new household had joined our team in 3 weeks. I wish I could say all doubt was gone…
God seems to delight in showing his power in “impossible” situations. And despite my weak faith & stubborn doubts, through the fog of flu, we got not one, but two Email notices stating that a new gift had been made to our account! In both cases, they had given in the past week, but the Emails posted that same day.
Oh me of little faith.
I haven’t met an American who likes to talk about money, and we have met several young people with desire to serve overseas, who cannot stomach developing a partnership base for their expenses. Kent’s first assignment overseas was a volunteer position with all expenses paid. He was relieved not to bother with funding. Unfortunately, on his return to the US he was grieved that many friends had forgotten where he was & the work he was doing. Many of the friends who said they would be praying, had forgotten. This was not partnership, and it showed. Paul says, “Did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?” 2 Cor 11:7
It is an obedience filled with faith in God that has us once again building our team to move overseas. It is equally an obedience filled with faith in God that has our partners investing in this work. It is almost a helpless feeling to give up control and throw your entire financial future on the mercy of God. (I grant that none of us actually have control over our financial futures, and all of us depend on the mercy of God. Maybe it is the illusion of control over money “we earned” that we are giving up.)
I learn so slowly! It is a lesson I have learned & relearned & relearned. Patiently, God is teaching us week by week to trust in HIM. He is our Provider. This is his work, his people, his plan, his timing, and for years to come we will be able to look back to this season of partnership development with a confidence that God is the One sending us out. Our own work could never accomplish it.
When our Wycliffe financial statement comes, I am always humbled and in awe of the amazing team of partners who give sacrificially, so we can go. We could never repay their generosity, and it isn’t really ours to repay anyway as it is given to God. Instead we pray for our partners’ families, for their churches, for their jobs, for their health. It is a strong connection. We long to catch up and visit in person whenever possible. We grieve when they grieve. We rejoice when they rejoice. This is partnership.
And I feel like I take all our partners with us to Africa. Their prayers, their gifts are traveling on the back of a motorcycle into the rainforest with Kent to develop an alphabet where people don’t have one. These prayers, these gifts give out that first alphabet chart that makes one of the poorest men on the planet light up saying, “My language is a REAL language?”
These prayers, these gifts carry me into cross-cultural small group ministry where we invest in the local church – whatever weak state it may be in (who can wonder at that without access to God’s Word in a language that speaks clearly?) These prayers & gifts have been with me in times of great danger, in malaria, in rabies, in many many moves, and dark days; and equally in the victories and celebrations as God’s Truth gets translated and then published and then used to transform & heal the broken-hearted.
These are not my successes. They are made possible by a collaborative act of faith, of worship for a Mighty God.
These are his successes. This is partnership.