A year ago our family started down a long, bumpy road of raising a team of ministry partners for our upcoming ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This process has included raising $6,500 in monthly support from individuals and churches. Our support grew quickly to 30% in the first two months of deputation. Growth following that was slow, with our support numbers reaching only the mid forties over the course of the next nine months. This is a much slower rate than MAF generally sees for staff raising support.
In July we set a goal with MAF to be at 60% by the end of August–a mere two days from now. Our understanding was that at that end of this month we would be evaluating the rate of support growth and discussing what might be next for us. Due to a miscommunication, we thought this might mean anything from being let go from full-time staff status to raise support as unpaid members of MAF to discussions of a re-evaluation of our timetables. The impression that we got was that staff are only let go from the ministry entirely as a mutual decision with MAF. However, the forecast we received from our Ministry Partnership Coach today was more bleak.
Thursday we have a phone call with leadership at MAF HQ for the official decision. Nothing is set in stone at this time! To our knowledge, no decision has been reached. However, our MP Coach has cautioned us that the likely outcome will be that we will be let go from MAF.
This news hit us like a load of bricks.
We’ve been so confident in our calling to Congo with MAF. There is such a need for an IT Specialist in MAF’s east DRC program. We’ve seen God work over the last several years to give us the skills and desire to serve him there. I learned about information technology while working for the National Guard, both in the Middle East and stateside. Stephanie and I have had our perspectives broadened to include foreign cultures. We’ve even seen our attitudes about “stuff” and frivolous pursuits changed as we’ve prepared to live abroad. God recently used a series of personal prayer times and Sunday morning sermons to prompt us to keep going and keep doing the hard work before us. Can it really be that after all this he wants us to go in different direction now?
I. Don’t. Know.
Those three words have been at the forefront of my lexicon this past year. It’s been an emotional roller coaster as we’ve struggled to discern God’s will. Has support been slow to come in because we aren’t ready? Has it been because we aren’t going somewhere or asking someone we should? Are the people with whom we’re sharing our ministry simply not responding to our presentations or God’s prompting to give? Did God just want us to use this year at MAF to prepare us for something else? Will all our support suddenly come in by some miracle?
I. Don’t. Know.
I will tell you what I do know. There is a place called the Democratic Republic of Congo in central Africa. In this place there are people who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ. There are people living in terror in isolated jungle villages wondering if they will be the next victims of brutal attacks by rebel soldiers of which death is not the least desirable outcome. There are medical teams trying to keep people from dying from diseases like cholera, sleeping sickness, and malaria who are working in areas where it is difficult to order supplies, let alone get them. There are pastors and bible students who desire to minister to their countrymen, but lack the resources. There are all these things and more, and our family can do something about it. Our ministry with MAF can affect change and be light in this part of Africa that has been called “The Heart of Darkness.” We can do this if we can get there.
If it’s God’s will for us not to go to Congo, then far be it from me to do otherwise. 1 Corinthians 1:25 reminds us that “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Maybe there is some reason God wanted us to go through one year with MAF for what feels, from an earthly perspective, like a failure.
On the other hand, Romans 10:13-15 reminds me that as missionaries we can’t go unless someone sends us. I still have confidence that God can bring our support team together. We have two days to reach our 60% goal and we are $472 per month short. From one angle, that looks like an impossibility. From another, I think ten people committing to give $50 per month could bring us to that goal. Our God is a god of impossibilities who created the universe out of nothing, used a boat to save Noah and his family, brought a nation out of slavery, used a shepherd boy to slay a giant, and so much more. He can easily finish our support team and take us to Congo.
Please, if you’ve sensed God leading you to join our team of supporters, will you commit to obeying Him and partnering with us in this ministry? If you haven’t felt Him leading you, will you ask Him now? We know not everyone is called or able to join us, and we don’t want anyone to feel pressured if you are not. We just ask that if you’ve been on the fence or know God wants you on our team to commit to give before the month is over.
Due to the urgent nature of our request, we ask that if you want to start giving that you either give online or call MAF Donor Services at 1-800-FLYS-MAF (359-7623) rather than mailing in a commitment card.
Our family appreciates your prayers over the next few days and into the future.
UPDATE: Last week was a rough week! Much of the chaos surrounding the ordeal I described in this post was due to miscommunication between people. Emotions ran high, and a few things that weren’t really big deals got misunderstood. People make mistakes, but Romans 8:28 reminds us that God uses every situation. At the end of the day he got a lot of glory! Our phone call with MAF was a positive experience. We each raised concerns, talked about options, and spent time considering how to proceed. As of this point, MAF and our family are both committed to seeing this process through. There is concern that the process is taking a long time. I wrote a follow-up post following the call which shares more thoughts on the situation.