If you would have told me 5 years ago that I had to raise thousands of dollars each month to live and work on, and that I would actually enjoy it-I would have thought you were crazy! Ask people for money for me? Accept others to provide absolute necessities for my family? Even more, accept help from others for more than just basic necessities? That goes agains everything in my 'control it myself' mentality and way of living. Even once we joined missions, and I had switched my thinking to understand that we had to have people to back us so we could go, I still fought with controlling how it all worked. I worked tirelessly on lists of people to meet with. I came up with fancy newsletter templates and we read books that helped form scripts for asking people in the right way. I had detailed line-item budget spreadsheets where I plugged each dollar into and it calculated how much more we needed by way of breaking it down to x number of people at so much money per month. I sent letters and made phone calls and spread the word. I was so excited to share what God was doing.
And our support hardly moved at all. We went from 35% to 40% over several months. And we were discouraged.
Then, we had a few situations which turned our world upside down. At that point we were living with friends in the midwest-near our sending church and what had been "home" for our first years of marriage. We had been without consistent salary for 5 months by this point and every safeguard we had thought we had in terms of provision had fallen through. God was shutting door after door to providing for us by staying where we were, and he was pushing wider and wider the doors for us to walk through to move forward with missions. I was confused, and scared, and stressed to the max (or so I thought). Then our renters of our house moved out and what we found pushed my stress to a whole new level. We were looking at needing thousands of dollars in repairs and back rent. To even make the house up to code again, let alone presentable to actually get renters was going to cost a LOT of money. We had nothing left. We had no savings, no income, no money set aside to actually go without rent either.
I remember laying in our room one night with Ty talking and agreeing we had no idea what would happen. I also remember a friend's encouragement 6 months earlier to dig into what was I so afraid of and play it out in my head to the end to find the source of what I was afraid of. So that's what we did. We talked through worse case and that was us losing our house to foreclosure. So we looked at the options there. What would that mean, what would we be without, what problems might arise? It was at that point I realized, it was just a house, just money, just a credit score. I certainly didn't want to go through what would be some very hard things in that process, but I was suddenly a lot less afraid when I realized the facts of what looked like was inevitably to come. That night we spent time praying together. Instead of the desperate pleas we had been bringing to God to fix it, we simply gave it all up to him. I gave it all up to him. I opened my hands and let go and gave him our house, gave him my kids' provisions, gave him our future with missions, and gave him our financial needs. I did all this knowing full well he may let natural order go forward and we might indeed lose the house and need a job asap to feed the kids, and that giving it all to him did not equal instant fixing of our situation. And then I slept very deeply, at peace in my heart for the first time in months.
When I gave up control of those areas to God, I have to be honest that I really thought financial hardships were in the future. I gave up control not actually expecting God to fix those situations or to provide abundantly and supernaturally. What I really hope you hear, is that the peace I gained was peace from trusting Him with all I had (or didn't have in this case). The peace had nothing to do with being convinced he'd cover our expenses. In fact, I realized I didn't actually think that would happen. However, God had other plans and chose to bless us in amazing and ways we cannot even explain to this day. Somehow, we paid cash for repairs and new flooring for the house. We had a team of amazing friends come alongside us and work round the clock pretty much for 3 straight days to get the house livable. New renters came along and we filled the house in a matter of under a week. And as the year went on we saw one situation after another where God showed up in ways I hadn't even asked for because I hadn't even dreamed up that as a possibility. Through that process, he met our needs and brought our support in. We moved across country, living out of our car for 7 months without any income and the disaster of our house situation right in the middle of it all. And when we got to the end of the year and looked back, we were less in debt at the end than when we started. How did that happen???
My faith has grown so much through the process of fundraising. As I tell others about the needs, I am sharing what God is doing all over the world. That means I get to enter into his story and connect it to those I'm sharing with. I find such excitement and privilege in that! Some days I still shake my head and ask God why on earth he's chosen me to be part of his enormous plan. Those days are coming less frequently though. See, part of my increased faith also allows me to see myself as God sees me. He has made me for such a time as this moment, this life, with this purpose. There is such joy in that! There is such freedom in that! The joy and freedom aren't found in the circumstances all working out though. Some of the times of the least anxiety and the most joy were some of the most challenging practically. I really cannot explain the inner state of my heart except to say that I've grown so much closer to my Lord and Savior and Daddy through those times and He truly was my peace and joy! If that isn't exciting to share about then I don't have any business being in missions or even calling myself part of his family. This is amazing stuff people! For those of you who have journeyed with us through those days-I can't thank you enough for loving our family amazingly well and practically. For those who have given to God's work which means practical needs are met and we can do things such as pay rent and buy groceries-thank you for enabling us to work solely on building God's church here in Belgium. For those of you who have encouraged us with prayer and with friendship, not letting us shy away from sharing needs even when it was tough-thank you! For those who have not let us go without things like enrolling the kids in after-school activities because just since we are missionaries you've reminded us that doesn't mean that we have to live on broth and bread crusts and dress in tattered rags. We pray regularly that we are faithful with what God has entrusted us. We pray for opportunities to bless others with tangible gifts the way we have been blessed. We pray often to continue to hold onto control loosely and open our hands with our possessions, our fears, our kids, and our needs and really give God all of it.
And we walk by faith in an amazing peace that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other. And somehow, through the way God has created us and gifted us, we are able to help build his kingdom here little by little. When others share how their faith grows through our story I am in awe and thank God because it actually makes the cycle continue as my faith grows more. I see how He truly works all things for good-even in the desperate pleas and moments where it is all about to be lost, for His glory. We have had some incredibly hard times these past years. I know a peace that has gotten me through those even when circumstances looked the bleakest. I pray that you too can walk in that peace and that your faith is built through letting go of control in what ever area God is asking to help you with. The situation may not at all turn out "good" but if you are letting him walk you through it I promise it will more than supersede your expectations! And if you want to hear more regular and specific stories of how God is moving, contact us to be added to our newsletter we send out.