THE EMOTIONS OF READING THE MONTHLY DISBURSEMENT STATEMENT
I have tears in my eyes right now. If someone could see me they'd probably think I was cracking up. (Indeed there are many times in missions when you wonder if you are!)
~ I know this may sound ridiculous but, for me, I can hardly even look at my Disbursement Statement when it comes in the email each month from headquarters. This is the computerized printout that shows the giving of each church, each family, each individual - that sustains us in the field as missionaries. Even just scanning through it as I format it for printing, I'm reading the names of friends I've known for years. I'm reading names of family members. I'm reading names of churches who know us very well - especially our home church - but also names of churches we only visited once and took a chance (so to speak) on picking us up for monthly support.
You'd never know that reading a financial report could be so humbling and so poignant - - such an emotional experience! And yet it gets me every time...
Like most people, Beth & I have always worked our way through. Yes, we had certain advantages such as being born into good solid (big!) families with great parents, but we always had to work in order to get through. We were both working in Bible school, when we met, then college, and then seminary. We both worked all the way through but Beth especially sacrificing so that I could get my degrees. If we listed all the different jobs Beth and I have had since before high school, all the way through graduate school you'd probably be surprised - and most of these jobs were very menial, manual labor type hourly wage positions.
Then came the season in our lives of child bearing and both of us working to make ends meet. We know all about the crazy schedules, having to coordinate with one vehicle or take alternate transportation to work, tight budgets, and raising the kids - Beth even homeschooling much of the time - all the while participating in leadership positions in the life of the local church.
I finally made it to where I was a professional and doing well in a secular career, but at the same time gaining Assemblies of God ministry credentials on the side, until the day God called us out into missionary service. (We had always kept the vision that one day God might release us into missions work.)
Today as missionaries we live on a monthly allowance, dispensed to us from headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. We have now lived this way for over 10 years and plan to continue living this way. It is a fixed budget, for this particular field, that has been set for us by others. Sometimes I wonder if people realize the lifestyle and privileges that are checked in at the door when one signs up for missionary service. Like most missionaries we scrape at the end of the month. Well, I guess a lot of Americans do so that's nothing special. But what is special is discovered when gazing at the list of givers who keep you going. You have an acute awareness that "this is God's money"!
- - "These people are giving from their hearts!" Some are giving because they love us. Some are giving because they love missions, and want to see souls saved and the Kingdom of God move forward. Or it's a combination of the two. But whatever it is, it's very, very humbling to know that you and your family are being sustained on the offerings of God's people.
Sometimes I can hardly bring myself to look at the pages in this report. We find ourselves filled with an acute and somewhat bittersweet sense of gratitude and humility - at the same time. This has the effect of providing additional inspiration to set our hands more firmly on the plow - to determine to DO what we're here to DO, for the glory and purposes of God (and not of man). Others are doing their part by giving sacrificially so that we can be here. Now we must do our part in making it happen ~ in being Christ's hands extended in this place where God has us.
May God grant the continuing vision & strength to overcome all obstacles - all satanic opposition, all setbacks, stumbling blocks & pitfalls, all bureaucracy & other impeding factors - - etc., etc., etc. - - to get the job done. [Zechariah 4:6]