One of the biggest challenges for missionaries is raising the funds before going out in to the field. (No this is not a passive ploy to get you people to give money, so no comments!) This was certainly the biggest hurdle I had to face when I was considering pursuing this type of service. During the year where I was seeking God’s guidance, I had more than a few meltdowns regarding finances.
You see, I am an independent, risk-averse person. If I cannot clearly see the path before me, I don’t want to go down it. If I cannot devise back-up plans, I don’t want to go down the path. Big and amazing things happened to other people, not to me. Even if I did ask for something big, God could still say no, and I would be left out in the cold. No. Thank you. And as a result, I played it pretty safe.
Going to work for God is not easy, and not to be taken lightly. So, when I was trying to figure out how I was going to raise the money to go out in to the field, I was losing my mind. Many late nights, I would be sobbing out of fear and frustration, “What if I go down this path and God decides to say no? I am investing a few thousand dollars in to this! How could He do that?!” or “What if I think this is the path I am supposed to go down, and God’s NO, is me not being able to raise the money to go? That is time and money wasted!!” Oh yes, round and round this would go. The good news was that in the morning, God would renew peace (not necessarily a confirmation), but just peace, so that I could get through the day. I think God was just waiting and asking, “Are you going to trust me? Don’t you believe I am a good God?”
Also during this time, I asked for prayer and guidance from lots of people regarding working for God, and kept my eyes and ears out for anyone who might give a warning against it. Interestingly, no one hedged. No one. (Seriously? Oh, yes.)
Looking back over that time, it is pretty surprising that no one brought up concerns. But I see now that if this was NOT the plan God had for me, He would have used someone to give me a warning and guidance. (I hope)
I also sought a lot of counsel from my mom. During one of my, “I am freaking out” episodes, my mom sent me the classic verse from James 1:5:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
This was a great verse to be given, except I was bad about asking God for big stuff. And He knew it. Which is why I felt…urged…to look up the verse and read the rest of the passage.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
BAM! Shot right between the eyes! I knew that whenever I asked God for anything, I was going to be filled with doubt as to whether He would come through, and I would begin devising back-up plans. My faith was small. My God was small. I was double-minded! I was unstable!
This was no bueno.
Right then and there, I repented of my lack of faith. I asked God to work in my heart and to help my unbelief. I desperately wanted the faith to ask God for big things, and to trust that He would come through. Even if the answer didn’t align to my plan, to trust that He had a plan that was better.
Building big trust like this takes time, but it was amazing to see how faithful God was to come through. I was willing to see, and God was ready to show.
First – going to fundraising boot camp and learning that God and I are a team. He has His job and I have mine. Oddly, this was really reassuring. “We’re a team?! I am not on my own! Done! Go team!” (Insert high-five here)
Second – I have to go through training at the headquarters of International Teams for a total of 5 weeks. Last summer, I completed 3 of those 5 weeks. Before I left, I had a mini-fundraising campaign to help raise money for the training costs. I was prepared to cover half, if needed. The week before I left, I was FULLY supported for training. For all 5 weeks.
Third – To keep expenses down, and pay off debts, I began praying about a living situation that would allow me to save money. I asked God to, 1) find me a place by Oct 1, 2011, 2) keep the cost at or below a certain amount of money, and 3) to be with a neat Christian family. I started praying in July. I found my new living arrangement on Sept 27. Not only did it meet ALL of the requirements, there are a few extra perks, which God threw in for good measure. (It is actually a cool story I can write about later)
So, what does this mean for today? I am uncharacteristically calm about raising money. I do what I can. Talk to who I can. And pray A LOT. I am currently on a plan to be in Spain in September, with a big “God willing” thrown in.
Do I have a long way to go? Yes.
Is it possible God has a different timeline? Yes, and I am OK with that.
Is God capable of making it happen, regardless? Oh yeah.
When I think about it today, I sometimes get a little thrill wondering what God will do to make it happen, if September is in His plans. And then sometimes, I get really excited, like, “Holy cow, God, this is impossible! This is HUGE! There is NO WAY I can make this happen on my own! I wonder what you have up your sleeve. I can’t wait to see it!”
And I can just see God, looking down on me, saying, “Finally.”