*Just a disclaimer – as a YWAMer it is very difficult to write something about money! We are afraid of sounding manipulative or passive aggressive with self-pity. Please try to believe me when I say that I am simply sharing what God has spoken recently in regards to some prayers we prayed. We are in no way upset or offended by anyone, nor are we hinting at anything hoping to guilt everyone into giving us money or feeling sorry for us.*
Moses is one of the biggest heroes of the Old Testament. His story is larger than life: the Burning Bush, the Ten Plagues on Egypt, parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments, and so on. His life was full of some of the biggest signs and wonders in the entire Bible.
Yet as you may know, once the entire Jewish nation of slaves (some several million people) was freed by the very Hand of God from Pharaoh and on their way to the Promised Land, they began to say they wanted to go back! In Egypt, they said, there were “pots of meat and all the food we wanted” Ex 16:1-3.
God recently spoke to Erin from this story while we were praying together one morning. You see, our financial support dropped noticeably for several months. (That is polite missionary talk for “we are scared!”) By the beginning of November we were over $3000 USD in debt and it kept growing. While our support dropped the exchange rate of the US dollar swung against us for a few months to a 10-12% loss at the same time.
We were praying asking God what is going on: is this is sign we should end our time in Tahiti, is there some sin or disobedience He wants to convict us of, and is God trying to get our attention through this, etc. God showed us that while at YWAM Honolulu we were very used to “storehouses”. We had Safeway, Starbucks, and Walmart – all the creature comfort of America. We also had support that allowed us to have the following month’s rent ahead of time waiting in the bank. We had testing times for sure but there was a level of comfort.
Here we were crying out to God due to having no “storehouse” anymore. God convicted us of complaining and a lack of gratitude. We had developed a habit of receiving gifts of support yet not being thankful because it was not equivalent to a “storehouse”. God said “I want you to learn to live off of daily bread”. We repented and are walking in a new test of faith where we are trusting God week by week for finances to pay bills. At the same time we must learn how to operate in more gratitude and thankfulness.
It has not been easy and we are still battling anxiety as we struggle more with finances than we have before. Yet we trust God will give us our daily bread and are learning to be thankful for each blessing.
**Update** – By the end of November, due to a couple generous end of the year gifts our debt has been reduced to approx. $1500 USD.
I still remember having conversations in 2006 with our pastor in Pennsylvania and his wife. It was an informal time each week for a month leading up to our wedding that was a form of pre-marital counselling. They were excellent times before getting married.
One thing I clearly remember was our pastor telling me during one of our lunches – “Women are built for guilt”. I did not know what that meant at the time and tried to understand his explanation. Now after being married 11 years I understand a lot more of what he was saying!! If you do not really understand that this statement means then click here or here – they are excellent examples of the struggles women, particularly moms, have with GUILT.
Erin and I pray together often and God has been SO gracious to speak deep/profound things to us that have changed our marriage and actually changed our lives. His Word is so powerful. We pray together, wait on the Lord, share what He said and then pray & process it all out together.
One such time lead to a huge realization of a crazy cycle we were caught in without realizing it.
Let’s see if I can explain it despite how confusing it can be…
Then I was invited to speak in the Cook Islands last month because they had a speaker cancel. We prayed about it together and felt that God was encouraging me to go. It was being away in the Cooks that was so good for Erin! Completely forced to be a full time mom without me around was difficult but she LOVED it. She felt so guilt free knowing that she was taking care of the home so that I was free to teach. She felt so good and said it was exactly what she was waiting for.
It was not until I got home and we began to share how our time apart went that we even realized what each other had been struggling with. We did not even know we had been unconsciously encouraging guilt upon each other without even realizing it for months and months.
God is SO good and sets us free from guilt. We had a great talk where we came to an understanding and also lifted away all the assumptions we had that were not true. We feel much better knowing that either one of us can do ministry while the other takes care of the children – or that is OK! It is not a bad thing and it is no reason to feel guilty!
God showed us all our false assumptions and beliefs, and set us on a path where we each do what God has put in front of us without feeling bad about any false ideals of what so called “good moms or good father or good missionaries should be doing”.
God: “How do you eat an elephant?”
Me: (slightly confused) ummm… one bite at a time?
Then it clicked!
God often asked His disciples questions. I believe God asks us questions in order to get us thinking and to lead us to revelation. When God asked me about eating an elephant, all of the sudden, my mind understood several things all at once. The Holy Spirt was opening my understanding to what was going on inside of me.
For a few months now we have been having quite a hard time due to difficulty of pioneering. Particularly we have been struggling with lots of guilt, shame and condemnation. Feeling like we are failing at this missions thing and therefore letting people down, letting God down! It got hard enough that we decided to pray and ask God what to do… Should we pack up and leave? Should we take a furlough for 6 months or so? Should we stay and try to persevere through all this?
That’s when God asked me how to eat an elephant.
God identified to me two things that were killing our spirits and stealing our joy; weakening us and wearing us out.
#1 - When things go well dreams and the idea of indefinite commitment is exciting. However, when things get hard and depressing (unfulfilled dreams in our case), the idea of being “stuck forever” is very discouraging.
In my mind I knew the elephant represented the entirety of our vision for French Polynesia: having a training base running, schools discipling students, outreach teams going to the nations and this island getting reached with the Gospel. God was saying that with each day the elephant had not yet arrived, with each day our vision has not come to pass, with each day we had not accomplished the entire vision of what we came here to do, we were getting more and more discouraged.
#2 – We came here with a vague and undetermined commitment. It was exciting at first to just come and never know when we would leave, if ever. However, now the thought of never leaving this place of hardship was getting very heavy. God likened it to the picture of Atlas holding up the earth on his back.
Then God said “don’t leave just yet, can you give me one more year?” Can you take this “one bite at a time”? Do not focus so much on YWAM ministry but take…
God gave me some words from Malachi 3:10 “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Original context about tithing)
The Lord also gave us a couple things to put our hands to this year that will help in building relationships: an area of difficulty as well that has greatly added to the hardships. God told us to find a French teacher for Erin (David too) and really focus on language learning. He also told us to learn more Tahitian history and legends as a way to get to know the land and its people.
So… that is where we are at. This is not a year off or a long vacation. We will still do ministry as opportunities arrive and continue reaching out where possible. It is however a shift of our primary focus from getting a YWAM base established to language learning and creating a healthy family unit.
We have committed one more year to Tahiti for now. In July 1-5, 2018 there will be a YWAM Pacific staff gathering in the Cook Islands. We have registered in faith and have set this conference as the time we will re-evaluate and decide if we would like to recommit one year at a time.
We will see what this year holds for us as we switch focus and change perspective.