Missionary musings on faith and finances
The life of a missionary can be perceived as somewhat challenging, especially concerning the domain of finances.
Finances were, in fact, one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome before ‘taking the plunge’ and living by faith.
It wasn’t the idea of living on very little that concerned me – I was fine with that!
It was the idea of support raising and the rather large support target that did.
Growing up in Western Europe our culture teaches us to be independent. The idea of going around asking people to contribute to a monthly fund so I can survive was a very hard thing to do.
The second struggle was another psychological one: believing that we would reach what seemed like an impossibly huge support target. It’s not that I doubted God, but...
Eight years after being given our support target, here we are in France, where we have served with OM since 2010. I won’t go into all the details – that’s a conversation we can have over a coffee when you come and visit, but we made it!
We asked people to support us, we reached that seemingly-impossible goal and we took the plunge into missions.
The struggle with finances has not disappeared, but I am more and more convinced that it is a good struggle, a purifying struggle, one which God allows in order that I remain dependent on Him. Some months are tough, but God provides faithfully again and again.
I touched on this issue while sharing my story recently at a student summer camp. Over dinner afterwards one guy asked me, “Don’t you sometimes wish you just had a normal job, so you could go on holiday where you want and buy stuff without thinking about it?”
To tell the truth, that seems like an attractive proposition some days (I sometimes dream about how much money I could be earning right now if I’d stayed in teaching), but I reflected that the way things are now allows more opportunities to glorify God.
I shared how this past summer, for example, we went on holiday for two weeks, the first week in the south of France (the beauty, the warmth, swimming in the sea at St Tropez), and the next in the Alps – holidays that many people only dream of!
Admittedly they weren’t luxurious all-inclusive resorts, but we had a good time!
And it was only possible because of God’s provision: the first week a Christian family offered to lend us their second home for a modest fee which was paid by a kind friend – without us mentioning anything! The second week was paid for by someone I’ve never met, the friend of a colleague who had a desire to bless someone in France! How amazing is that?
Let me tell you another cool story.
Four years ago, our trusty old Peugeot was dying, and I had no clue how I was going to replace it.
On returning from a summer outreach there was a voicemail waiting for me, it was my Dad telling me that someone in my home church wanted to give us a car.
I hesitantly called back to find out more, expecting a story of another old heap. But no, this was a recent model, low mileage, fun (!) car. It even had space for all the family luggage! Not so fuel efficient, but some sacrifices have to be made.
Now, if I had my well-paid “dream” job, I might be able to have all these things. But where’s the cool story in that?
This way, we trust in God, He meets our needs (and some of our wants!), and God gets the glory!
I haven’t found all the answers to my faith questions yet. And I still struggle from time to time, but I’m learning. And something tells me I’m going to be learning for a long time yet…