Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Faith Promises and What They Are Not

Whenever we sit down with people, or share from the pulpit on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, we always ask people to consider a faith promise gift. Unless that person has given to missionaries in the past, most often they are unfamiliar with that concept. A faith promise is a donation that an individual makes, trusting that God is going to be faithful to provide the needed money at the appointed time.

When I ask folks to consider a faith promise, I'm not asking them about their budgets. I don't want to know if they can afford to donate or not. Because, quite frankly, we often cannot. We are so overextended financially these days because we have gotten away from the concept of living within our means and saving for the things we want or need. Credit has become the norm. And so we are, many of us, deeply in debt. It is little wonder missionaries and other ministries are turned down or hurting for funding these days. Fewer and fewer folks are donating because they have fewer and fewer dollars to spend.

When we rely on ourselves and neglect to trust in God's provision for us, we miss out on a huge blessing. Recently, we were forced to rely on God to provide a mere $1.75 each to get back to Greenwood from downtown Indy. A mere $1.75! We didn't have it--all of our money had been stripped away prior to the field trip. But obviously, as I'm sitting here back at home in Mississippi, God provided. I cannot begin to tell you the blessing we received when we completely trusted God for His provision. How freeing to not have to "worry" where every penny was coming from!

If a missionary asks you to prayerfully consider supporting them with a faith promise pledge, they are not asking you to consult your checkbook. They are not asking you to pour over your budget to see if there's any wiggle room. They are not asking you to be the ones to support them. What they are asking you to do is to ask God how much He wants to donate through you. In other words, you're asking God how much extra money He is going to provide each month for you to in turn donate to those missionaries. In essence, even though you are the ones listed on paper as the givers, it is actually God who is the giver. You are merely the tool, the funnel, He uses to provide for His workers.

And when you have stepped out in faith and committed to the faith promise, if it is from God, He will provide in sometimes the most unexpected ways! A couple years ago, while at a camp meeting, both of us felt that we should donate to the camp. We came up with a number in our heads, according to what we thought we could afford, of course. But then, the Lord asked us to double it! We couldn't afford that! However, we felt very strongly that He was asking us to pledge that amount. And so we did with great trepidation. That very first month our pledge was due, someone hired Troy to do an odd job. They hadn't discussed pay ahead of time, but neither was Troy concerned about it. When the job was finished, he received a check from the man. In the exact amount needed for our first pledge payment! God had provided, just as He'd promised. And so it went.

Folks, if God is asking us to do something, He will provide the strength, ability, or resources to do it. We believe very strongly that He has called us to this ministry in Mexico City and know that He will provide. While He owns all the cattle on the hillsides, He provides for us most often through other people. But those people must be willing and obedient to His leading, just as Troy and I must be in our calling.

So the next time a missionary---possibly even Troy or I---asks you to consider a faith promise pledge, instead of answering with the automatic no (unless you've prayed about it ahead of time and sense God giving you that answer, of course), or mentally running through your checkbook or budget to see if there's room, pray and ask God how much He wants to give through you.

I promise you will not regret it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Prayer Requests

We are working on our schedule now that Troy's time at WBS and our training session in Indy is completed. Troy will be leading a Sunday school class at a local church through September. The hope of ours (as well as the individual who helped us arrange this) is that we will receive some support from either the class and/or the individuals involved in the class. Please be praying with that the Lord will speak through Troy as he leads this class.

Some of you may have already heard, but we recently received a generous gift from a total stranger! While we have yet to meet this couple, I (Jenny) had been chatting with them in an Amazon forum about Christian books. Through the discussion, I was able to mention that we were missionaries raising support for our first term. The husband is an evangelist from Hawaii who felt that God was leading him to give us an encouragement blessing! Please be in prayer with us for Chuck as he is traveling today to Taiwan for a month of preaching and teaching. Pray for open hearts and safe traveling mercies.

Finally, we would like to spend the entire month of October in North Carolina. We'll be contacting some of the pastors there soon to schedule meetings. Our prayer is to fill each Sunday (morning and evening, when possible) and all but 1 Wednesday with meetings. What we hope to do is to spend a few days with each church. We'd have a meeting with the body and then invite individuals to meet with us one-on-one for more information about our ministry. Please be in prayer with us as we begin to schedule these meetings. Pray that the Lord will fill the month with both church meetings and individual meetings as well.

Thank you for all your continued prayers on our behalf. We greatly value them. As always, if there is something we can pray about for you, please let us know.