The Fundraising Chronicles: What God has Taught me through Funding (Part 2)
If you haven’t read Part One of this post, please do so here.
For those that know me personally, you already know that I’m a huge missionary stories fan. I think that missionary stories are so encouraging as we see God working in ways that many of us would think impossible. It’s also super encouraging to see the ways that missionaries in challenging environments trusted God for ‘immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.’ One of my favorite missionaries of all time is J. Hudson Taylor, a man who God use mightily to bring the Gospel into the inland provinces of China. At this time, Western Missionaries stayed in the relative safety of Hong Kong and Shanghai, both with their Western enclaves. Taylor was the founder of China Inland Mission, which was responsible for recruiting 800 missionaries to China, who began 125 schools and led to many thousands of Chinese coming to know Christ. (for way more info on this, please see my book, The Chinese Puzzle, Chapter 1)
Hudson Taylor’s motto for China Inland Mission was ‘God’s work, done in God’s way, never lacks God’s supply.’ I have seen this play out in my own life a lot as God provided for our needs at just the right time as we were doing the ministry we felt God wanted us to do. As the funding began to dry up more and more, I continued to repeat this slogan to myself as a way to remind myself that as long as I was open to doing God’s work in God’s way, he would provide. The more I came to ‘butt heads’ with God over ‘God, I’m willing to do whatever you want in whatever way, why aren’t you providing as you had in the past”, the more I found Hudson’s statement extremely difficult to work with.
The first issue that I found was is how easy it is to equate ‘God’s Supply’ with money. Of course, we need money in order to do God’s work, but in Scripture the resources which God provides for his work are much richer and in some ways more intangible than just money. An increase in the fruit of the Spirit in your life, for example, are things we need in increasing measure in order to do God’s word.
As I would pray through Hudson’s motto and apply it to my own situation, I found it difficult to define what exactly God’s work was. It’s easy to equate God’s work with things I did: evangelism, Bible translation, Church planting, etc. As I was going through the process of God working in my life through our funding challenges, I began to broaden what I saw as God’s work. God calls us to mission not only to achieve missional goals, which he can do with or without our help. I saw God’s work to include what He was doing in my life as He was drawing me closer to Him and exposing some wrong perspectives I was living with. Because God’s work focus may be very different than ours, I saw His work for that season more about what He wanted to do in me than using me for His missional goals.
As I was going through this ‘God’s molding and shaping me’ period, I began to reject a blanket application of the ‘work, way, supply’ principle, because early on, I was really beating myself up as to why God wasn’t providing, that either I wasn’t doing the ministry in God’s way or that it wasn’t God’s work. At this time, our ministry was pursuing opportunities in Bible Translation in China, and we know that is something God wants to have completed. For me, I now believe that God’s work for that time was my own sanctification, His way was building in me an increased dependence on Him and His supply was the financial hardship needed to drive me to that dependence. While it was hard to broaden my perspective, it helped me tremendously to take my eyes off of what I was doing wrong, and put my focus on what God wanted to do in and through my life in the process.