Sunday, May 25, 2014

"The terrible-but-wonderful, humbling heart-link…"

Been doing a bit of wrestling with God these days…
~ Since last summer, we have been seeking Him for His plan for our lives in this season & have taken a a new step to live by faith & go full-time with Operation Nehemiah
~ We have been crying out for our boys in lands far away - Josh serving with the Army in Afghanistan & Jon serving with Operation Nehemiah in South Sudan & those serving with them
~Also crying out for God to heal relationships & we are seeing His hand 
~Also trying to solve Rogers's health issue and the way is getting clearer!

With much out of our control,  our only recourse was to look up!   He has proven Himself so patient & faithful. Though many things are still in process, we are trusting that He is faithfully completing the work He has begun in our hearts and lives and that of others as well.

One of the things He is putting his finger on is the area of finances. For almost 3 years of the past 4, we had no promised income, no savings,  no credit card & without making our needs known, we only asked our heavenly Father and He has so faithfully provided… AND He certainly fine tuned our hearts in the process of waiting on Him. [see some of our MANNA posts]

As we have joined Operation Nehemiah & have stepped away from employment again;  William Levi, who lives by faith,  has urged us to raise monthly support so that we can run the East office of Operation Nehemiah... but we have resisted, wanting to continue solely waiting on the Lord.  Until we recently read something that we have since been wrestling with…

God has various ways to support those in full-time ministry. Don’t try to dictate to the Lord the means by which you will be supported. Some are unable to bear the sacrifice of their pride to rely on the gifts of others. They decide they will only minister if they can pay their own way. Others fall into the trap of spiritual pride believing that the only way to do God’s work is to have Him tell people to give to them, without their making their needs known. [Ouch!] Still others rely too much on people - they look more to their contacts than to God. If He were to lead them to do otherwise they would have trouble trusting Him...

"We need to get God's way of looking at ministry and money firmly in our minds. We are concerned with what work is getting done and getting the money to see that our goals are accomplished. They are, after all, goals for God's work, aren't they?

“However, the Lord has a far different bottom line. 
His primary concern is restoring relationships-- between us and Him and between us and each other. This is why He has designed it so that we rely on others for financial support while we do His work.

“Jesus modeled this for us. He supported Himself through as a carpenter during His early adult years, but during the three years of His full-time ministry, He and the disciples had "Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their own means. (Luke 8:3)

“As people give to the work of the Lord, many wonderful things happen… "  ~ Cunningham

This has certainly been true as God has provided through others & in all sorts of creative ways through the years, but we are wrestling with the fact that we do not have the opportunity to freely share the stories of His faithful provision, because we have kept our needs a secret.   

As we thought about this and wondered if God were leading us to share more openly, I saw what rose up in my heart and realized that I [Patty] had become proud of the fact that we have looked to God alone. It has been an amazing adventure living on manna quite literally as day to day, we look to him for bills, or the gas money to get to somewhere He wants us to go, or for food to see us through the next day or so, or to call Jon in South Sudan, etc. etc. and each day He sees us through. But now I see that in the process, no one can appreciate how faithfully He has provided for us. So here I am struggling with letting people know more fully, for fear of what?  I’m honestly not quite sure... but having admitted my pride, I am so thankful I can repent & listen. So we are being compelled to consider making a change as He leads.

We would rather be self-sufficient... but we would miss the terrible-but-wonderful, humbling heart-link that occurs... There is a special bond forever between you and the person who gave to you. You care about them and you pray for them... and naturally want to share news with him about your ministry, reporting what the gift has done in the work of the Lord... [This has been our experience as friends have shared with us & vice versa, but then we read on and we are compelled...]

It may not seem so for a struggling missionary or pastor, but if a giant foundation were to fund his work or some billionaire were to write a huge check, it could be the death knell for his ministry. Missionaries need more than money. They need people praying for them and for the extension of God’s kingdom, engaging with them in spiritual battles through prayer and giving...  At the same time the ministries needs will be met, people will have their personal vision enlarged and will come to see the world more as God does - all because of their giving and the reports they get back from their personal representative “out there”.  And prayer will go up on all sides, doing the work of spiritual warfare that is necessary for anything to be accomplished. None of this would happen if we didn’t depend upon God through others to keep the work of God going...”

“Ask the Lord what steps you are to take.  At times, He may have you tell others about your needs, obey Him. At other times, He may tell you to keep quiet and only make your needs known to Him, obey Him... don’t rule out creative alternatives either, or try to force the Lord to provide for you in a certain way. [as if we can!] All miracles of God’s provision start by heeding Mary’s advice at the wedding of Cana: “Whatever He says to you, do it.” ~Loren Cunningham, Daring to Live on the Edge:The Adventure of Faith & Finances

This quote confirms what Rog said  some caring leaders shared with him recently as he shared our George Mueller stand on finances...   So that is where we are... convicted and course corrected... realizing that God wants us to look to Him for what he’s about in each situation.  

This has been such a helpful and humbling process.  We are so thankful to all our dear friends/family who have prayed for us, and loved us though they may wonder about us. This humbling love of our Lord and from you is what we ask God to fill us with for others  The Lord is humbling His people as He unties His body!! [Ephesians 4:11-13] All glory to Him!

As we all talk to God,  He is bringing us into what He has already planned to do and we get to see Him work in power and love through circumstances we are praying about. As we join together in prayer as the Lord leads, we can celebrate together how God has faithfully intervened!! 

We do have needs here in order to have this office running here in western MA, as well as needs for training this summer, travel so we can share with others about the vision of Operation Nehemiah, and for needs of the people of Borongole.  As His body unites it is amazing what God is doing there! 

If you would like to be a part of our prayer support or monthly support team, as we serve with Operation Nehemiah, please let us know. We will keep you informed of needs and praise reports as He answers "our" prayers. 

Thanks for listening. We are humbled by His love an patience with us.
Roger & Patty, Jonathan & Emma

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