But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. — 1 Sam 12:24
I just returned from a whirlwind tour of the States. We spent a month visiting 8 states and slept in 10 different beds. Needless to say I’m both jet-lagged and exhausted. My husband and I went to the States to meet with partners, network with potential partners, attend a board meeting and raise funds. All of which meant telling our story many, many times over. While on some levels it could become a little routine to tell the same story so many times, I’m actually thankful for it. It reminds me again and again how incredible God is and has been. Here are just a few things I was reminded of as I told the stories:
God can do the impossible
As I remind people, I can’t give any examples of communities moving out of poverty, where there aren’t also stories of miracles. In some cases it’s trucks driving into town, dumping piles of building supplies outside a church that just spent all night praying that God would provide materials for them to be able to build more houses for people in their village. In other cases it’s stories of God multiplying crops during a drought where all other areas saw their crops destroyed. In still other cases it’s stories of the government suddenly building a school where they dreamed of having a school or stringing up electricity to an isolated village that always dreamed of having electricity.
I work with incredible people.
Whether it’s the trainer who walks for a day to get to an isolated church to do a training or the people they train who not only turn up to learn but put it all into action immediately, they are all incredible.
I remember in one area they learned that as part of loving their wives as Christ loved the church, they could do small things to serve their wives. For example if they come home and find the dinner not cooked then instead of shouting at or beating their wives, they could help collect water or firewood etc. The deacons studying this were horrified. They couldn’t think of anything more embarrassing than to be caught serving your wife. To say that it was beyond cultural norms was a significant understatement. However, they really wanted to obey God so they gathered to try to work out what to do. As they thought about it they realized that the women in their village got up at 1am to do all the household work (collecting wood & water, preparing food etc) before going to the fields at 7am. Since the men didn’t get up until 6am, the deacons reasoned that they could get up at 4am and serve their wives – allowing their wives to sleep longer and not getting caught by the other men. In the end the rest of the village did find out. The families of the deacons were so changed that the rest of the village started to investigate to find out what happened. The whole norm of the village changed with all men and women rising at 4am to prepare for the day. While I was somewhat shocked when I heard the story, I also have huge admiration for the men. How many of us want to obey God so badly that we are willing to go against every cultural norm and risk the humiliation of our entire community? Most of us prefer a safer path. Few of us see the transformation in our communities that they saw.
God supplies all our needs
We haven’t always had the most well funded projects. In fact I remember starting a year with pledges of $7,000 and a budget of ten times that. At that time we didn’t do any of our own fundraising. The expectation was that we would cut our budget to what was pledged. Instead, we continued to do what we had planned. That year we received over $90,000 – more than the maximum that we said we could spend. As it turned out the program expanded faster than we imagined, and we needed every penny. Sometimes it arrived just hours before we needed it. In one case a person knocked on the door and handed us thousands of dollars that we needed the next morning. It was amazing to see God provide. What was even more incredible was that it happened year after year after year. We would let the head office know how much we needed as a minimum and maximum, they would promise to give us less than 50% what was requested as a minimum. At the end of the year when we ran the finance reports we would always be stunned to see that we had received far more than the maximum we said we needed.
The Bible exhorts us constantly to remember the things that the Lord has done. (1 Sam 12:24, Psalm 105: 4-5) It’s a faith growing exercise and, for me at least, leads to great thankfulness. In the States it’s almost Thanksgiving – whether we are based in the States or not, any day is a great day to give thanks. I’d challenge you to take time to ‘consider what great things he has done for you.’