One of the biggest battles for faith throughout our church planting journey, particularly in our recent move to Greece, has been money! You may find that surprising? The focus is often on battles for the first fruit, laying apostolic foundations and developing a leadership team. These are all a very real and challenging part of church planting. However, interestingly the topic Jesus most often addressed was money.
Why money? Well because when you church plant you are reliant on God to provide. Hang on a minute, something is not quite right about that sentence. Aren’t we all dependant on God to provide for us? Absolutely yes! But do we really live like it? When our circumstances change, what we really believe deep down comes to the surface. For many of us, we believe that our money comes from our employer or clients. The bank statement doesn’t show a credit from the Bank of Heaven. We are rarely confronted with where our real provision comes from unless it is under threat.
One of the first times, where God challenged me on this, was during my employed days. Worried about giving an important presentation to the Board of Directors, I asked God to help and give me peace. I felt God remind me that although my monthly salary came from the company, He was my provider, not the company. God provided the job I was doing. The money I received for my work was God’s provision to us. Being reassured of Father God as my provider, gave me peace. My life was in God’s hands, not the Board of Directors. I had nothing to fear.
Our journey of trusting God for money has been one of gradually growing faith. If the first step had been giving up both our jobs and paying for a big international move, I don’t think that we would have been ready. We firstly needed to recognise God’s provision in full time employment. Next, in stepping out in faith to work part time and plant a church in the UK. Ultimately, leading us to lay down both secular employment and church leadership. We are now trusting God to do the impossible and provide for us in a new country and culture where we can’t speak the language!
The financial costs and complexity of moving to a new country are hugely challenging. As a chartered accountant who specialised in business planning and strategy, I am naturally forward looking and like to have the budget all worked out! Instead, I find God’s miraculous provision is often just in time. Increasing dependence on Him means we definitely don’t get all the answers upfront. Sometimes, we struggle to even know the questions! It is fair to say that I have not always succeeded in following Jesus’ command not to worry on this journey. There have been a few sleepless nights about money!
The costs of moving with two children, paying removal and international school fees as well as higher taxes and healthcare costs all add up. We have had people say we are crazy – “don’t give up your rights to UK benefits like the NHS, don’t sell your home. Do you realise how much it is going to cost to pay tax in Greece?” And sometimes, I have honestly wondered if they are right, perhaps we are crazy. But with everything in me, I keep coming back to the fact that Jesus is worthy of it all! And if we are crazy, it’s about wanting to see those that don’t know Jesus discover hope in Him.
We have also come to the firm belief that if God has called us to reach the unreached in Greece, He will provide for us. We have been encouraged by the story of Ruth who left her father and mother and her homeland and came to live with a people that she did not know. And on hearing this, Boaz prayed for her “May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” Ruth 2 v12.
In Philippians 4 v19, Paul told the church “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” This is the same Father God who said “every animal of the forest is mine and the cattle on a thousand hills!” Psalm 50 v10. Our Father God knows exactly how much it is all going to cost and has more than enough resources.
Journeying with Jesus in the area of money, doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your job. It does mean depending on Him to supply all your needs as you live out your calling to love God and love others. Jesus has called us all to be fishers of men, often starting right where we are. However, sometimes he asks us to leave our nets and our country, to go to the place that He will show us. Our willingness to go, will reveal where our treasure is – in the eternal things of heaven or the temporary possessions of earth?
If we are more focussed on money than following Jesus, this will hold us back from stepping into the amazing adventure of faith God has for us. In Matthew 6 v24, Jesus put it even more bluntly “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Which will you choose?