As a missionary in Melbourne Australia the US economic crisis has affected me in a powerful way. Now instead of receiving extra money (when American currency was strong) I am receiving less than my promised amount of support. This can develop an attitude of frustration or even anger each month, so tonight I decided to share how God has blessed my ministry by teaching me in my financial need. While this is not the way I would choose to grow, the lessons learned now will help me long after the economy has stabilized itself.
1. You Must Take Responsibility: When the Australian dollar first went above parity (trading dollar for dollar with US currency) my first thought was to ask everyone who received my prayer updates for help. Instead of doing that God burdened my heart to develop a budget that fit with the amount of money being received instead of what I was promised (supposed to receive). It took a few months for the truth that I had a responsibility in the situation to sink in, I wanted to receive new support which would immediately care for the financial need without having to cut spending with a tight budget. But to expect others to care for my needs when I won’t do anything about them shows a heart that loves comfort which cannot glorify God.
2. You Aren’t the Only One: Something about struggling with finances causes most of us to only focus on our own needs while ignoring everyone else. Its pretty easy to take the responsibility idea and focus so much on it that the needs of others don’t seem to exist. A few months ago I was writing a ministry update and put a short portion of it on facebook describing my financial needs. There were a number of responses to that post from foreign missionaries who were struggling with needs much worse than mine and it reminded me that I wasn’t the only one who needed help. This was actually an encouragement and convicting truth at the same time. There was encouragement in the fact that there were other people who knew what I was going through, and their faithfulness in need convicted my heart.
3. All Expenses must be Evaluated: When I first arrived in Melbourne during the summer of 2007 the American dollar traded for seventy-seven cents Australian. This meant after paying monthly bills there was lots of money left over. Of course since there was so much money I had no problem spending it (a large amount was always saved). Rarely did I have to ask the question, “do we need this?” or think about financial priorities. Today however each expenditure above absolute necessities must be questioned, and research must be done to find what store has the best price. While this isn’t as much fun as just buying everything I want, it helps clarify in my mind whats truly important.
4. Its Okay To Ask For Help: Some people don’t have a problem sharing their needs or asking someone for help, I am not one of those people. My friends are well aware of the fact that I hate to ask for help (because of pride and I believe their problems are more important than mine) and put it off at all costs. The Lord saw my heart of selfish pride and in His sovereignty chose to break that wickedness by putting me in a situation that demanded the help of others.
5. God Knows My Needs: On the seventh of every month (when I receive my monthly transfer) my heart is filled with the same emotion. Its a mixture of fear, worry, and frustration sometimes accompanied by a sick feeling in my stomach. This intense experience is almost always followed by a prayer of desperation to God. “Lord there is no way I can pay my monthly bills with this much money! Don’t you understand what my needs are? Why don’t you help me? Every month this prayer is followed by God’s command to simply continue serving Him, and every time the needs are provided for. It isn’t always done in the way that I want but the Lord has never allowed me to go into debt, which makes the seventh a reminder of God’s care as well as my financial need.
6. We Must Appreciate What We Have: On more than one occasion since the US economy weakened the Lord reminded me about the blessings I had when American currency was strong. In a sense I took the strong dollar for granted since I had never experienced the currency this weak. At some point things are going to balance out though it will take a long time still, but once that does happen I will be left with a new found appreciation for God’s financial blessing.
I pray that each of you can learn these lessons and experience the blessing of God in this time of great financial need.
Because of Who He is,