And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
(Philippians 4:19-20 ESV)
This was written two thousand years ago by the apostle Paul, in the context of thanking the Philippian church for meeting his physical needs while he traveled as a minister of the Gospel. Paul was reassuring the Philippians that God would, in turn, supply every need of theirs. This is a beautiful example of the way in which God uses believers to meet the needs of one another, and points us to the ultimate Giver of all good things. When the Body of Christ functions in this way, it is a blessing to the giver and the receiver, and a testimony to the Lord that we serve.
If you have been following us and our ministry, you know that our income comes from the generous gifts of many individuals and churches, enabling us to serve full-time in missionary aviation. As I opened our statement from MMS Aviation this month, I was reminded of the faithfulness of God, and overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone who has partners with us in our ministry. The dollar amount was not staggering, but we received some unexpected gifts that were just what we needed at this time.
We knew our expenses would go up when we moved to North Carolina, and the increase was more than we expected. In response, I spent some time drafting an appeal letter that I planned to send to potential new ministry partners, to ask them to consider an ongoing financial commitment. I had the letters printed, and started prayerfully considering a list of names. But as I looked over that list, I couldn't come up with a single person to whom I felt comfortable sending an appeal. Then it occurred to me: did I even pray about whether I should send letters in the first place? I'm embarrassed to say that the answer is, "No."
This is not a post about support-raising methods, and we have certainly sent our share of appeal letters in the past. We will probably send them again some day. But it is so easy to begin trusting in methods and strategies, even in Christian ministry. I sometimes look at the numbers, and when they don't add up I start strategizing about how we will make ends meet. But time and time again, the Lord has proven Himself faithful. And while it's a good feeling to get response cards with the "monthly financial gift" box checked, it is even better to know that we are being provided for by a God who knows every need even before we ask.
As a concrete example, this month Tara participated in a mission trip to Mexico with a group from our church, which cost a few hundred dollars. We applied for the kids' passports so we would be ready to take them with us internationally: another $240. We incurred a number of other expenses as well, which we were able to cover from our savings, but eventually savings begin to run dry. But wouldn't you know it? I opened my statement Friday afternoon and noticed two sizeable, unexpected, donations. One of them was from a church we visited a while back, where I gave a presentation plagued with technical difficulties and distractions. I felt like I did a terrible job casting vision for our ministry, and I was sure I would never hear from that church again, despite having several personal connections there. But apparently I was wrong! Thank God for His provision, and that it does not depend on my eloquence!
I don't intend to say that we can never make our needs known, and I believe there is a time for that. But before I start presenting my need to others, I need to ask myself where I am placing my trust. Is it in dollars and cents, and in my own strategies and plans? Or is my trust truly in the Giver of life and breath and every good thing? There is always the temptation to grasp for things that are tangible and that I can keep under my control. But it's my prayer that He may continually help me (and you) to keep our eyes fixed on Him, and to grow in our faith and trust in Him!