I genuinely believe that God has a sense of irony and He likes to use that to teach us lessons from time to time.
The first time I noticed God’s irony was in the story of Esther in chapter 6 when Haman, the villain of the story, is called into the king’s court and is asked about how best to honor a man the king is happy with. Haman assumes the king is planning to honor him and so speaks about everything he’d like done for himself. The king then orders Haman to do everything he just said, except do it for Mordecai, the man Haman hates more than anyone in the world. Humility is served in the most ironic way possible.
Once again I am left pondering God’s sense of irony as He once again challenges me to truly live out the theme we’ve chosen for our ministry this year. Have a Little Faith.
Themes were originally a gimmick for me. A good way to work on a lesson and fundraising pitch. But every year I have one it becomes more and more real to me as God is actually trying to use that theme to teach me something.
2013 was “Love in Action”, and I had to really follow what I was saying and put God’s love into action as we started a new ministry.
2014 was called “Compassion Unbound” and I was genuinely challenged to break the limits that I’d set in my life that would hold me back from being compassionate.
2015 was called “got peace?” and I had to learn to find God’s peace amidst the turmoil of life. My mother-in-law died after being infected with HIV by a fraudulent doctor, our ministry reached its limits, I wrestled with the realities of working with street children and growing close to them, and for a while I sunk into depression and burnt out. I spent a lot of time begging God for peace and wondering where I might find it, only to discover that God is always offering it if we just surrender ourselves to Him.
And this year, 2016, is called “Have a Little Faith”. We’ve probably hit the limits of what I’m capable of and to be honest I’m struggling with trying to find support for myself and my family on top of support for our ministry. In the last few weeks I’ve had quite a few doors shut on me as I try to make new church contacts. Our ministry is small, unknown, and it is hard to get your foot in the door when you don’t know anyone at the churches I’ve been approaching. I’ve had at least one church cancel on me, leaving me with open Sundays on this trip and the probability of having visits lined up gets less and less the closer we get to the open Sundays. I’m trying to get on the ball with maintaining our existing relationships with donors and churches, but that can be an extremely exhausting and draining process. The money is there for the ministry, but not so much for me to be getting paid, and when you’re married with 2 children, that’s pretty darn stressful.
And so once again God is challenging me to stop and think about the theme we’ve picked this year. In my head I keep hearing a voice saying to me, “Greg, have a little faith.”
When I had this idea to start putting street kids into school, no one seemed willing to help me do it the way I felt God was telling me to do it. I had just left another ministry and up till then I had often struggled just to raise enough money for my personal support, never had I raised a whole lot of additional funding for a project like this. As I prepared to go back to the United States to start finding funds I had no clue how I was going to do it, who was going to help me, and how I’d pick the kids for the program. All I knew was that God had told me to do this and so I was going to do it.
Suddenly Sokly called, having pity on me as I was trying to do this alone (or at least that’s how she puts it) and asks to be a part of this new ministry. I go to the US and suddenly I’m plugged into an accountant and we’re registered as a non-profit. Then the money starts to trickle in. First a little, and then a lot. Then Sokly finds a house, a school, an advocate, and 5 kids and we’re in business. Not even a year later we move into a new larger facility with plans to open a preschool. And now we’re caring for 25 children.
As I’ve said multitudinous times, if anyone thinks I’m responsible for this they clearly don’t know me very well. I stepped out on a very small amount of faith and God did something awesome. And ironically after trying so hard to talk about what God did with my little faith and challenging others to have a little faith, God is also challenging me to trust Him and “Have a Little Faith.”
While I don’t know where God will lead our ministry and being a leader and putting everything together is tough and exhausting, I do know that God is not depending on me to accomplish His work, He just asks me to have a little faith and watch what He does with it. If He can do everything He’s already done then I know that He can do it again and again. I know that He will care for my family and I know that in due time I’ll be back in Cambodia with all 25 of our street kids and the staff where I really want to be. Because I know that God can take whatever faith I have and do something awesome with it, I’ll keep on trying to do whatever I can for Him. Please just keep on praying for me to have a little faith and trust that God has everything in hand.