An Impossible Journey
My heart raced. My forehead beaded with sweat. I even laughed out loud! I took a deep breath and replied, “I’m burdened to build laborers on the campus for the lost world, but there’s no way I can raise my own salary with the support base I have.” I grew up in the poor inner city of St. Louis where gang activity, drug deals, and prostitution were just how life operated. I had been offered an amazing, well-paying accounting job. I could see the comfortable future I had always wanted within reach. No more living on bologna sandwiches and ramen noodles. Life was about to be good! Clearly I would be a fool to consider giving up the American Dream to go on an impossible journey of support raising.
It didn’t take long for my mentor to realize I wasn’t excited about going into full-time ministry if it meant raising my own salary. He said these words that haunted me, “If you want to build a multiethnic movement for God on the college campus, I will walk you through it all and teach you everything I know; but I cannot force you to trust God to provide.”
I thanked him for his time, and he probably left thinking there was no possibility of me joining his organization. On my ride home I was on an emotional roller coaster. A familiar scripture kept ringing through my mind: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Those words pierced my heart for weeks. I had this verse memorized, but did I truly believe it? I decided to run my decision by those I trusted most and those who had the same background I did. They all thought I had lost my mind. But after praying and meditating on the Word, it became clear to me there was no better option, no better way for me to know God and make Him known than to join staff with Campus Outreach.
A Faithful God
The first day of orientation was embarrassing. It was so embarrassing that I contemplated quitting before I had even started. All the new staffers were asked to brainstorm 100 names of potential supporters. When the exercise was through, the others in the room had lists of 100+ names that included lawyers, doctors, and politicians. I looked down at my short list of 25 potential donors- consisting of drug dealers, people with GEDs and those who had already filed bankruptcy.
Even to this day, my first brainstorming list is still an inside joke amongst my colleagues. But despite my circumstances, God proved Himself faithful! Four months later I was fully supported; not one penny was left to raise! God provided all I needed in an unprecedented amount of time. To my surprise, God gave me more than financial provision. There was also provision of community, advocates, people who would be in my corner of years to come. More than supporters, more than donors, I finished fundraising with new friends and family.
Would I Trust Again?
Eight years later I was given a new opportunity to take the gospel to the college campus, but it would require raising more support than I could even fathom. Only this time, my list of potential supporters was long and very promising, putting my old list to shame. No doubt, raising this amount would be challenging, but there was no sweat on my forehead, no heart racing, no nervous laughter. Even still, something wasn’t right. For two weeks, I tried to support raise in my own strength. It wasn’t working. One night, I hit rock bottom. I was left with no other option but to trust God, so I decided–no sleep, no food, the Word of God and begging God to move for 27 hours. Within the next 24 hours, God raised up $1,000 of monthly support, and by the end of the month, I had raised all the support I needed. As I look back on these pivotal times, I’m reminded again and again that if I seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, all these things will be added to me.
I am 10 years removed from the embarrassment I felt at my first orientation, and I am convinced more now than ever that God is a provider. He made a way for a young, black, inner city kid with limited resources to be mobilized to reach the world for Christ. I can truly testify that if He can raise my support, He can raise yours. You just have to be willing to trust Him.
Prayer of confession:
God, you made it clear in Scripture that I should trust in you and not my own strength. I have been guilty of not trusting you to provide for me over and over again. Please forgive me for my lack of belief in your power, your love, and your grace. You do love me, you do see me, and you are in this with me. I thank you that my life can be an Ebenezer, a reminder of your faithfulness to those who trust you.
God, can you continue to show me that your provision always flows from a place of loving and trusting in you. Never let me forget those 25 names on my brainstorming list, or those 27 hours of fasting and praying. (Insert your own reminders of His faithful provision.) Let me never forget that support raising is one of the best opportunities to love you and make you known. Amen.