Being in ministry is tough. It has its own form of challenges unique from what I have gone through as a fulltime classroom teacher.
A friend once asked me the struggles I have with being in fulltime ministry, the major things I have a hard time adjusting to. I have thought of these struggles, but I have never really opened up much on this subject or carefully reflected on it. Her question made me uncomfortable but it allowed me to be honest to myself.
It set in motion a necessary introspection.
I learned to earn my own money at a really young age, about 10 years old, by buying and selling candies and cassava rolls (a Filipino snack), as a result of my family’s financial strains. This continued all throughout high school adding in a variety of items in my repertoire of personally delivered snacks, clothing, and accessories while working part time on some weekends for my aunt’s catering service. In college, besides depending on a scholarship for my tuition fees and still selling items, I worked part time for Dunkin’ Donuts then I moved on to work part time for Texas Chicken.
This early training on the attitude of working hard and earning well is deeply ingrained in me. After graduation, I landed a job as a teacher. From then on, I supported myself and my family together with my sister.
After years of working as a teacher, God called me to join a short-term missions team to China. One of the requirements in joining was to raise your own funds. I had put away some amount in my savings that could cover the expenses for the trip; I resolved to use it in case I am not able to raise the money, doubting that I could ever raise the amount needed. I was afraid that I would not be able to do it. And besides, I did not want to ask or to depend on anyone else for what I needed. I was confident I could do that on my own.
I was painfully wrong.
A few months before I had to leave for China, IRS called me saying that I owe them $8,000. My immigration lawyer also called me to tell me I have to go to Canada to get a new visa stamped on my passport before I leave for China. I only had about $3,000 in my account; going to Canada meant spending all of that for fare and expenses in staying at a hotel.
I left for Canada knowing I had to. I came back broke — my savings account wiped clean.
On my flight back, I didn’t know what I was going to use for the mission trip since I didn’t have the money I needed for it; and I wasn’t sure what to do with IRS.
When I got home to the place I was renting, I received a call from a friend. She told me that as she was spending time with God that morning, she felt Him impress on her to give all of her first salary (after many, many years of not earning) towards my trip.
I cried that very moment — immensely engulfed with the Father’s love.
I could not believe what just happened. I have never asked this friend to give towards my trip, and yet God spoke to her about it.
That beautiful event initiated a trail of others. It began a chain of people I have never even asked for anything yet gave as God told them to. I had raised so much from what was needed, that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with all of it. But I knew in my heart God wanted me to have that exact amount for a reason.
When I arrived in China and Taiwan, God showed me exactly where that money belonged to. The blessing of being a channel to that was beyond description. No words could suffice in painting how delightful it was to be in the midst of what God was doing.
And oh, IRS suddenly called again saying that what they told me about owing them was a mistake. Whew!
Through this experience, God humbled my prideful heart and taught me to learn to depend on Him. I leaned hard on myself, my capabilities, and my savings that He knew He had to strip me of that to get me ready for what He wanted me to do. With it, He prepared me to be where I am now, in fulltime ministry.
And yes, one of my struggles in ministry is literally depending on God for my daily provision, for not earning yet believing that I will have all that I need. But as He has powerfully shown me, I have learned to slowly and daily trust Him.
On many occasions, I still doubt Him and His faithfulness. Whenever I do, I recall countless events of how He has supplied not only my needs but even my wants; and I remember how He perpetually shreds my worries with His love through His people; I remember how He willingly overtakes me with His blessings. Indeed, He will when You obey Him as I have so many times witnessed not only in my own life but in the lives of many others who have tasted the sweetness of being in God’s will and will follow His voice no matter the consequences.
Now I want to take this chance to say, “Thank You,” to everyone who has been there for me and for Jason through prayer and financial support. We are beyond-words humbled by your generosity, and constantly praise the Lord for how He has been there for us through you. Month by month we see how He continues to stir people — friends, family, church family, even strangers — to be a part of what He is doing here through us.
We acknowledge that our freedom to pursue God’s vision and purposes here in Thailand comes at a great cost to a lot of people who work many hours and have spent time on their knees for us.
We feel your love; we feel the Father’s love. We pray that He abundantly replenish what you have unselfishly shared with us.
© 2013 Kezia Lewis. All Rights Reserved.