Funding. It seems to be hardwired into every missionary that is living and doing ministry on a support basis. There have been times in my life where you could ask me what our percentage was at and I could rattle it off down to the decimal. There have been times (more recently than I care to admit) that I incorporated it into every conversation (I'm sorry if I've done this to you). While it is the job of the missionary to pursue financial support, I recognized something today that filled me so full of joy that I just about wept as it unfolded. I recognized a heart shift that has taken the "funding is my responsibility" perspective, lit it on fire, threw it in a barrel and rolled it down a large hill. Seems drastic doesn't it. Admit it, you liked the idea of a burning barrel rolling down a hill. You pyro!
Today started with what seemed like a meeting opportunity that wasn't going the way I wanted it to go. I had a conversation here or there about our family, our ministry, our plans, God's vision and it all seemed to follow the general guidelines of what is acceptable missionary marketing. As I moved from conversation to conversation, I assessed how well I was doing at presenting myself and our ministry. Now scientists have a name for this, it's called "stupid". As if somehow I was going to say some magic words that would make money magically appear in our ministry account. I realized in the next few moments how little this mattered to me and how the "God will take care of your needs" perspective would prove to be the only true method.
I received a phone call from a student that I love a lot. To be fair, I love all of my students a lot and just because you graduate or leave the country doesn't mean that I will leave you alone SO DON'T TRY TO GET AWAY FROM ME! Awkward. In all seriousness, this is what happens. God puts you into a life at a point in time and says, this is the person or people that you are going to love and serve and I'll give you everything you need to do it. Boy does He ever. You never forget them, you never stop caring about them, you laugh and cry at the memories and conversations that you still get to have. It's greatest and most painful gift that we have ever been given and we wouldn't change it for anything, ever.
I left the meetings, as if God had handed me a note that said, "you have an urgent phone call and it needs your attention, now". I got on the phone, trusting that God would give me the words to say and the spirit to identify and uplift. For 40 minutes, I reconnected with this very special student in a way that only God could have woven. We talked about heavy things and we laughed at my stupid jokes. In the end, this amazing friend was uplifted, out of chaos and enjoying the joy of life. It wasn't me, it was He. He knew what to say and He knew how to say it. He knows how to make everyone feel important. He always does. That's why that conversation was the only thing that mattered at that moment. I wanted this amazing young person to know the love of the Savior and praise God, she got it. And that is it, isn't it. At one point in time, I felt as though I was on the underbelly of society where everyone goes to suffer, die and be forgotten completely and utterly without value. The place where hope dares not to go. Yet He came down there, didn't He, took our hands, saved us, loved us beyond explanation and seated us at His table. Me? Yep, and the fact that He let me work with Him today to love and serve and encourage just dropped me to my knees in utter gratitude.
When I hung up, I just couldn't stop smiling. I was filled to the brim to know that I had loved as Jesus loves and that my heart's priority had been demonstrated in the zero hesitation to take a phone call and serve my sweet friend. I am the richest man alive, because my Savior has redeemed me, loves me and somehow has found a way to use me.
Oh, by the way, as I forgot about the funding aspect and concentrated on the loving service and outreach, we picked up four new monthly partners (that we know of) and a loving pastor of an amazing church that we've only spoken to once came up to us after this and said, "let me know if you guys need more funding, we'd love to help." There is no one like our God!