Have you ever been totally blown away by the way God answers our prayers? I have been for others and many times for myself, in a small kind of way. But never have I been so shocked by the way God answered my prayer in a huge, totally unexpected, impossible way than He did just this past month.
Earlier this year, we began to realize that our finances were in bad shape. Through the purchase of a vehicle, insurance, repairs to the vehicle, and a mandatory trip to the doctor in Australia, we were falling way behind. Shortly after this realization, we got the news that our monthly income was decreasing. Much of this was not planned and therefore, came as quite a shock to us. I decided to write a newsletter article and ask our supporters to help with some of the extra expenses. In the past, they have always come through for us. A few of our partners sent extra gifts but our income actually fell to the lowest point we have ever experienced since coming on the mission field in Papua New Guinea. Again, we were shocked. I felt like we should wait a little while to see if things would improve but they did not. Our only option seemed to be to sell our vehicle and try to buy something smaller. I really dreaded doing this because so many had given to help make this vehicle possible. We had been able to accomplish a lot of ministry with this vehicle and I felt strongly that God had made it possible for us to own it.
And so we began to pray. Not that we hadn’t been praying before, but now we prayed more fervently and more specifically. Joni told me she was praying for $10,000 to meet our immediate financial need. I told her that I was praying for $12,000 because we had to raise enough to cover our expenses and the extra team ministry fees that we pay to help cover our overhead costs to our organization. With those figures in mind, we wrote another newsletter. We wrote an article that articulated our exact financial condition. Once again, we were surprised when just a few people responded. We were still far short of the finances that we needed.
I began to understand that the Lord was trying to teach us something. I changed my prayer. I still asked for the money, but I began to pray, “Lord, I don’t want to sell our vehicle, but if that is what You want, then that is what we will do. Or maybe you are trying to tell us that our time on this mission field is finished. We don’t feel like it is time for us to leave, but if that is what you are trying to tell us, we will leave. We realize that You are the one who provides for us. If you want us to continue our work here in PNG, we need You to provide these funds. My prayer is that if You do give us the needed funds, which You will provide it in such an unexpected way that we know without a doubt that it is from You and not from our own efforts.”
Shortly after this time we received a check from a church for $2,000. Our forwarding agent let us know the reason for the check. The church had sent a letter explaining that they were closing. They liquidated their assets and the money they sent us had come as a result of them closing the church. We were sad to hear this news. This church had been supporting us for the past few years with small gifts every month. We had a long relationship with this church and we hated to hear this news but we were grateful for the generous gift.
Then a few days later the most shocking thing of all happened. We got an email from PBT telling us that not only had that church been generous with us; they had also been very generous with PBT. They had sent a sizable donation and asked that PBT use the money where it was most needed. They said that due to our long standing relationship with the church and because of the need they had read about in our newsletter the leadership at PBT had decided to send that money to us. It was $10,000. I love PBT. I love the leadership and the people who have given their lives in service to the Lord through this organization, but I cannot think of any place less expected to get $10,000 from than a missionary organization. What an incredibly amazing and totally unexpected answer to prayer. I can honestly say I didn’t see that coming. Obviously it was God. But this is who our God is and what He does. He easily does the things we think to be impossible and He makes it look easy. Should we not live in anticipation every day that our good God is going to do amazing things for His people?
Jim serves in Scripture Impact.