There were many things I looked forward to enjoying while preparing for furlough last September, but raising funds to pay for lawyer’s fees definitely wasn’t one of them. One of the challenges with applying for a Permanent Residency Visa in Melbourne is at this point you must go through a lawyer which means spending lots of money, in my case it will be somewhere between $9,000 and $10,000.
I knew that this could be accomplished (amazing how much money you can save living in your parents basement) but the idea of spending that much money on something like a visa, which until 2006 cost less than $500 can be very frustrating.
That frustration turned into a form of panic after arriving in the States since most Churches had already filled their yearly schedule, and the ones who hadn’t weren’t able to support new missionaries. This was a problem because setting aside new support each month would easily result in a few thousand dollars. The current economic crisis affected me in a deeper way however, since people could no longer give as much in love offerings or gifts to missionaries who spoke at Churches either.
This led me to go through a phase of ministry where my financial need (needing new support and funds to pay for lawyers fees) took center stage but the money just didn’t seem to come in. So in January with $850 of support left to raise I decided to simply share what the Gospel had done in Melbourne. Financial needs were still talked about of course, but at the end of the service, and very quickly. This allowed the Holy Spirit to lead those who the Lord wanted to give.
Since that time the Gospel and the burden of God upon my heart for Melbourne has raised more than $500 of new financial support in four months. It amazes me that the Lord would provide this kind of financial support, but what’s truly shocking is it didn’t come from an emotional plea or cutting edge ministry presentation, just stories of lives the Gospel touched in Australia.
While the new support fills my heart with joy, it’s the one-time gifts that absolutely blow my mind. In March I attended a supporting Churches Missions Conference speaking twice (once for fifteen minutes, the other for twenty). In all honesty this was close to the end of my families huge kitchen remodeling job and I didn’t do a very good job of speaking…the jokes fell flat, there was little energy, and stories that were usually clear and concise turned into rambling. This is okay because sometimes presentations don’t go as well as they should, you just learn from them. While walking to the car I pulled the check they gave me out of my coat pocket and peeked inside the envelope…it was for $1,500.00
Now first let me clarify that every penny of this money is sent Baptist Mid Missions so the Church can have a tax-deductible receipt and I don’t touch any of it (all goes towards lawyers fees). The important thing is people didn’t give more than $1,000 towards my ministry because of a tear jerking story, funny joke, or moving ministry presentation. They gave because God led them to.
This is the way God works many times, waiting till we stop trying to fix the problem ourselves, then stepping in and taking care of everything in a way that only He can. There has never been, or ever will be a challenge in our lives that the Lord cannot provide for if we simply let Him take control.
Earlier this year after speaking at a Church I went out to eat with the Pastor and his family. We had a great time of fellowship over wonderful food and before leaving he handed me a check folded up saying apologetically “sorry I can never get them to round up”…it was for $1,962. Please don’t think I’m rich folks, every cent of that was also sent to the mission, and as proof I am not rich, here is a picture the knock of brand of Golden Grahams from Wal-Mart I ate for breakfast this morning.
I came to the States never believing in my wildest dreams God would provide $9,000 to cover my Permanent Residency fees, but a quick check this morning revealed there was MORE THAN ENOUGH to cover all of them now, with probably seven months left to set aside funds. God does challenge us to take radical steps of faith in our lives, but we can be thankful the victory comes from Him instead of our own strength.