Today, I reached 75% of my overall goal towards funding my next year’s ministry in Boulder through the North American Mission Board!! I could not be more blessed, and I just briefly want to acknowledge and compliment my home church, First Baptist Montgomery, that has made it all possible! Under the leadership of pastor Jay Wolf, and our missions pastor Brian Gay, FBC Montgomery is truly a Great-Commission centered congregation that is a veritable “missions factory.” What is so remarkable to me is the fact that our church commits heavily both to international and home missions, whereas in this day and age of reduced giving, many churches, even large ones, have determined that missions is an “either/or” proposition, and so lend most of their support either to foreign or to domestic initiatives. But FBC Montgomery doesn’t stop there—my church also is committed to being a team player, and gives generously to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program, where again this is increasingly not the norm among many Baptist churches. Finally, despite the fact that my church supports all of these different branches of ministry, our individual members, our church’s missions committee, and our First Baptist Foundation have also been willing to come forward to provide resources for people like me, who are raising their own support to follow God’s calling. To be the recipient of such gifts, affirmation, and encouragement is truly a humbling experience. I have been accustomed to hear stories from others who had raised support about how the Lord would provide resources in unexpected ways, and now I have first-hand experience with such Providential provision!
In filtering these experiences through Scripture, the reference that immediately comes to mind is the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with the 5 loaves and the two fishes. Significantly, this is the only miracle, other than the Resurrection, which is recounted in all four Gospels. What I also find noteworthy about the story is the way in which Jesus responds to the disciples’ initial concern about finding food for the crowd. In Matthew 14:16 Christ speaks to the apostles: “they do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Now this may strike us as strange initially. After all, if Jesus is preparing to perform a miracle and supply the crowds with food, why would He even bother telling the apostles to feed the people first?? Well, Jesus obviously wants to prompt His followers to bring to Him whatever resources they have, and then see how He can provide. And of course Christ does provide, to the extent that 12 baskets of food are left over.
Although this is a passage that I have been familiar with since I was a child, as so often Scripture does, it has taken on a vibrant new significance during this journey of support raising and ministry partner development! Some people have asked me questions to the effect of, “wouldn’t it be great if a missions agency/church/ministry organization simply provided all of your funds and you didn’t have to raise any?” Now I must confess, back at the beginning of March, as I faced what appeared to be a daunting task ahead of me, I probably would have agreed with these people! But now I have realized the beauty and at times the necessity of God only providing once we step forward in faith. Once the disciples were willing to commit whatever they had at hand, meager though it seemed to the task of feeding the crowds, Jesus then responded as only He can.
Over the past few months, I have had the blessing of being able to share my testimony and God’s call in my life with so many people, and as a result of this process I have been continually reminded anew as to why as I am passionate about college ministry, and serving in the mission field of Boulder, Colorado. I have been able to stretch my faith in ways that would not have been possible had someone simply given me the necessary funds straight away. While I still have a ways to go before reaching my goal, the encouragement and affirmation of the Holy Spirit, working through faithful members of the Body of Christ, has been a constant presence for me! So today I reflect and give thanks for the blessing of a wonderful church home, which provides its members with resources to answer God’s call, and more importantly, whose financial support is matched by a commitment to prayer, and a burning desire to be obedient to the Great Commission. Perhaps the miracle of the loaves and fishes is in every Gospel because the writers wanted us to remember that God’s miracle of provision, far from being a one-time event, is an ongoing reality in the lives of His followers! Our job must always be to step forward in obedience, however daunting our task may appear initially—doing all that we can, so that God can do what only He can!