Have you ever noticed whenever you take a big step in faith, the “testing” comes after you make that step? This past year, the “testing” for us came partly in the form of our support.
Every time we have moved we have lost donors and gained new ones. We expected the same when we moved to CO two years ago. But for a variety of reasons we lost a lot more than we expected. It was kind of the “perfect storm” of job losses, moving from campus, a new state, etc. We found ourselves facing a serious deficit for the first time in a decade. Add to that increased living expenses and new significant therapy needs for our kids.
Walking through that season forced me to ask myself a lot of hard questions. Do I believe my calling is connected to my support level? Am I truly looking to God to provide and not individuals? And if so, why does it hurt so much when donors drop us? Do I believe God loves me any less, even when budget is in the red?
I wrestled before the Lord and tried to fight against frustration and bitterness (we lost A LOT of donors). I spent many hours in prayer just trying to keep my heart in check and my faith secure in Him as our Provider. I knew in my head God was leading some to give to us and others to join other ministry opportunities. But in my heart I couldn’t deny how it felt. I like these words about refinement being from God:
“And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:9)
This passage is prophecy to another people about much more difficult circumstances than facing a deficit. But I still resonate with the results of refining times – God identifies me as His and I confirm my position as His daughter.
Again and again, as with each donor that could no longer support us, I had to confirm my calling and passion. Even if our support was low – yes, I still feel called. Even if it feels like a lot of people don’t believe in what we are doing – yes, I know He moved us here. (And I knew in my heart they did believe in us; I’m sharing honestly how it felt).
I also grew in an even greater appreciation for the donors we do have. I spent more time in prayer for them and felt a renewed gratefulness for their monthly sacrifices to partner with us in our ministry. I found encouragement in the Word and with every new donor or extra gift that current supporters gave.
Just last night I hesitantly asked my husband how our support level is today. He confidently said that it is very healthy. Praise God! Six months ago we could not have said that. Looking back I know God allowed it all. He called some of our old supporters to other ministries, which meant leaving our team. But He also called new people to join our team. And in the time in between, we never went “without” and were always able to pay our bills.
I am grateful for the work God did in my heart during that season. It would be nice if I didn’t have to go through those pesky “testing” times, but I know that the result is a stronger, purer faith. Even walking through deficit can be another thing to thank Him for in this crazy life as a missionary mommy.
Sherry has been on staff since 1997. She and Jeff have been married for 14 years and have served in WI, SD and now in CO. They have 3 boys ages 6-11 and there is never a dull moment in their house. Sherry is looking forward to returning homeschooling again this fall! She enjoys writing and encouraging mommy missionaries when she isn’t busy shuttling boys around town.
What about you? What has God shown you as you faced funding trials?