This past Friday, I got a call from a good Thai friend named Moo. Moo, or Marty, (his English nickname), was my Thai tutor 11 years ago, then my housemate, then my co-worker with Campus Crusade, and now a senior staff, a church planter, a devoted husband, and father of two boys.
Here’s what Marty said to me – “Matt, you and I both know I don’t have any money, but I truly feel God leading me to take responsibility for a big Christmas project for my entire province. I want to do something that has never been done before in our province. Less than 1/10th of 1 percent here know much of anything about Christ & I want to start a Christmas tradition where everyone can learn what Christmas really means. I’m going to work with other churches, but cover the expenses myself, and take responsibility for it all – and even though I don’t have any money, I know God will provide. So, I have stepped out in faith, incurred the expenses already of $1,200, (or a couple of months pay for him), promised to pay later, and I’m trusting God. I know He will take care of everything and I will trust Him. Will you pray with me?”
I told him I would. But, you know what happened before I could pray or do anything else? I got a very unexpected email the next day…
I got an email from a Thai sister in Christ, who has been living and raising a family in America for many years, and whom I met for only a few days over a year ago when she and her pastor from the States came to help lead a short Bible conference for Thais. Soon after the conference, I shared with her the Gospel Bible study series that I wrote for Thai people. We’ve kept in touch from time to time ever since and, (disregarding the catchy “someone you barely know” portion of the title of this post), feel very much unified around faithful teaching and preaching the Gospel of Christ.
Her email of a few days ago said this…
“Matt, I have shared your Bible study with several people here in the U.S. as well as in Thailand. People have passed it around and love it. Some are using it in their groups for teaching. Thank you for sharing it with us. Anyway, today I just received a big donation from friends who donate every year to support Thai ministries. I told my pastor about the great work you are continuing to do in Thailand and we would love to designate some of this money to support you in Thailand. I have put aside – (ARE YOU READY FOR THIS!?) $1,200 to support you in Thailand, as needed for the ministry!”
Wow! I was floored! How amazing is God!? I wrote her back with excitement and told her that I didn’t need any of it – but I knew some people who did! I told her Moo’s story, and let her know the amount was perfect to be able to take what she was giving me and give to the people of the poor Karasin province for their first big Christmas outreach in memory!
God is good and He can always be trusted! (Why don’t I believe that more often?) He provided exactly what my friends in Karasin needed! And He already provided everything I need so I could easily pass what was given to me along to those who need it. For at least this season in life – (though I have done it before, and also fully support those who do it) – I’m not actively fundraising set amounts of support. I know that God will lead people to give the right amounts as He sees fit – with or without my input. (I say this season in life – knowing that I’ve felt led at different times to approach it several ways & keeping in mind that all this is very easy to say while there is money in the account). Right now though – it’s just so good to sit back and watch how He graciously provides for those in need – before we even know to ask. Like we all hope to do, I’m seeking to do my best to use what God has already given me and whatever else He sends my way for my needs and for others’ needs in a responsible and gracious way. With that in mind, I will say these words again to encourage you if you are going through a difficult time – and to remind myself – “God is good and He can ALWAYS BE TRUSTED.”
In conclusion – I hope we can take at least 2 things away from this story…
1. God provides for your needs far before you know them. You may not yet know how the provision will come, but He has already provided what you need. It is on the way. If you ever doubt that, look to Christ on the cross and see His most gracious provision for you there – 2,000 years before you knew you needed Him. Yes! You can Trust Him.
2. God first “deposits” within you everything He requires from you. How many times do you feel empty and unable to minister to someone else? Please know, He has not left you “bankrupt” as He calls you to minister to others. With whatever He intends to bless someone around you with, through you, He first blesses you with, in you. When you doubt, look to Christ once again – Christ in you. Yes! You can Trust Him.
Would you now join me in thanking God and praying that the Christmas outreach in Karasin will be an incredible time that people could know the TRUE meaning of CHRISTmas for the first time!