In case you’re considering launching a cross-cultural ministry, organic enterprise or local venture, here are two things I wish someone would have told me before our family took off for the great unknown.
Buckle up—they’re both extremely complex and ridiculously basic:
- Humans will disappoint you.
- God will provide for you.
On some level, I already knew about these two things because, well… life. But wow. I had no idea how scary true they would prove to be.
From the beginning, through the middle, and after the end, my husband and I felt the effects of every emotion that came from human disappointment. Friend/family, old/young, poor/rich… didn’t matter.
But right on the heels of every one of our bugged eyes that accompanied, “What?!” and every hung head coupled with, “Really?” God sent encouragement and financial relief right when we needed it.
Not the month before, alerting us to bank it, and not the month after, mocking us that it was late. Right when we needed it.
It was like our very own Mexican Manna.
When we sensed God telling us to fold our Gap-Year program but stay in Baja, we decided to take a short furlough to rest and refocus before restarting.
Since we were staying in ministry, we were pretty positive every supporter would stay on board and pivot with us. Until we heard things like this:
- “Why aren’t you just coming back to the States?”
- “We don’t really agree with you taking a furlough.”
- “You want us to keep sending money so you can swing in a hammock all day? Haha… just kidding, bro.”
We thought it would be a year break. Then we reduced it to six months. In the end we only took three.
When we figured out what to do next, it came in the form of a business in the wine industry. Our valley boasted over 50 wineries but no wine supply store. Boom.
Like Paul in the bible, we decided to be tent-makers, creating a business model that brought financial stability, drew people to us, and built relationships with locals.
We were pretty positive every supporter would stay on board and pivot with us when they read about the new idea. Until we heard things like this:
- “What does this new business have to do with God?”
- “We don’t agree with being in the wine industry.”
- “There are alcoholics in my family so I can’t support this.”
Disappointment ran thick and we watched our finances start to bleed. After losing the first five or six families, my husband made a sad observation. “If we keep going at this pace, we’re gonna be in trouble soon.”
Then the number went up to seven. Then nine. Then twelve.
- We thought we needed those supporters to stick with us financially.
- We thought we needed those supporters to stick with us emotionally.
Turns out, God is perfectly capable of filling in the gaps. Duh.
If you had been one of the Israelites who Moses led through the desert, how do you think you would’ve handled the food situation?
My Enneagram numbers might have snapped into action, setting up multiple shades along the barren route, complete with encouraging mile markers, cucumber water, color-coded maps, and the occasional charcuterie board.
I mean, who wouldn’t love a modest spread of olives, pita, hummus, grapes, and figs with a side of honey while on a hike?
Instead, when their sack lunches they brought for the journey ran out, God sprinkled manna from the sky, like snow.
That’s it? Fluff? Flakes? Wafers?
To top off the desert fun, God specifically told them to only take what they needed and no more.
Doesn’t seem to matter if we’re talking about biblical times or March of 2020; when a scarcity mentality takes over, hoarding only seems natural.
This is why basements, garages and attics get filled to the brim with who-knows-what. Most of us ignore those places, but are quick to defend why we need their contents.
- “Yeah, I definitely might possibly need that someday in the future.”
- “It would be a waste of money to get rid of these and then have to buy them again. I’m being a good steward.”
- “When the next emergency hits, do you think I’m gonna be the idiot without a rainbow of Sharpies, 20 roles of electrical tape, and four lengths of heavy-duty zippers? I think not.”
So there it all sits—taking up precious garage real estate and making me wonder if my faith is lacking.
The All-You-Can Eat Buffet
When the Israelites got snowed on, God told them to only take what they needed for the day. But taking a little extra seemed wise.
- “What if it runs out?”
- “Back off, Moses. We’re planning ahead!”
- “Exactly. What if my teenage son needs a second dinner at 10:30?”
The Bible tells us that when they tried to save extra portions of the “fine, flake-like thing,” it turned. Moldy manna? Nope—worms.
In Exodus 16, manna “resembled coriander seed, was white and tasted like wafers made with honey.” Scientists agree: manna was probably only half as sweet as sugar.
God could have kept the manna fresh indefinitely, but he wanted them to obey and learn dependence. He told them He would provide; all they had to do was trust.
Can you hear Him? “Eat as much as you want today, and I’ll provide more tomorrow.”
No take-out boxes. No doggy bags.
All they had to do was trust.
When’s the last time you had to consciously trust God with a specific fear, provision or future plan?
Has He provided for you, right when you needed it? Tell me in the comments and let’s encourage each other with stories of faith and trust!