Saturday, September 02, 2006

Her Journey

I have to tell you about a friend of mine. One episode of her faith journey this summer has been directly related to my upcoming trip to Zimbabwe. It’s taught me a lot about her good and sincere heart, and even more about the sufficiency and abundance of our great God.

My friend—who’s given me permission to share her story—formerly sold real estate. She and her husband work hard in their own business now. Though the Lord has blessed them, like most of us, they have those things that come up on a regular basis that stretch their budget to the limit. From time to time she receives calls from people wanting to sell or buy homes. She refers them to another agent who provides her with a cut of the commission.

This summer her heart was pricked by what God was doing through Alvaro Dos Santos’s passion for feeding orphans and widows in Africa. In July she received my email asking for prayers concerning my trip and explaining that I was counting on God to raise the money if it was his timing and will that I go. She thought and prayed about what she could do to help, finally deciding that if she got another real estate referral, she’d devote that money to funding my journey.

It was an easy decision until she got a referral within the week. In fact, she informed me immediately so she “wouldn’t allow Satan” to change her mind. She estimated she might be paid four or five hundred dollars and asked me to pray the house would sell quickly.

Satan would indeed make it tough for her. The next day, she was in a car wreck. No injuries, but the deductible would be—you guessed it—five hundred dollars. She wrestled with her decision, hoping I’d understand if she had to use the money. I did understand, and gave her my blessing to do so. But the following day she called me: She would to be faithful to her promise to God and trust him in these circumstances.

The house was under contract by mid-August. The agent expected it to close Thursday, August 31st. The sellers were going to live with a relative for a while, taking their time to find the right new home.

This sister wrote yesterday to ask how much of the money I actually needed. To be honest, I struggled with what to say. I wanted her to experience God’s freedom in this matter. My travel expenses and immunizations were covered; God had provided sufficient funds. But there were other considerations greater than my own. So, I told her how the economy is so unsettled in Zimbabwe that our expenses in country have soared in keeping with the hyperinflation the citizens are experiencing there. That whatever gift she offered would be timely and not in excess of our needs. That it is important to the Leveretts and me that our visit does not create a financial or physical burden for any of the Zimbabwean Christians. Though most of them are destitute, they would give out of their poverty to provide for us, and we do not want that to be the case.

I told her that Paula asked me to bring in cash whatever money remains after my expenses have been reimbursed. That Paula said—and Justin Nash told me, too—we will be surrounded by people with incredible need, and that with God's discernment and wisdom, we will (He will) be able to provide medicine, treatment, or financial assistance to those who think there is no hope. That Justin told me how at every location, Alvaro picked out the person with the worst health problem—they were usually outcast because of it—honored them before the people, then paid for their medical care.

She replied, “Thank you for answering my question so perfectly. I will give you all that I get and I cannot wait to hear where God puts that money in Africa, whose lives it touches and how.”

A few hours later she phoned. She’d picked up the check, but it wasn’t what she had anticipated. It was more. Much more. A total of eighteen hundred dollars. God had not only sold the home in a matter of weeks, he’d helped the sellers find a new home they loved. God’s abundance and the joy in her voice made me tremble before our perfect and refining and faithful Heavenly Father.

I thank God for my friends—for all of you who teach me so much through your journeys of faith. Because of your faith, many of you have provided generously to me on behalf of the innocent ones in Zimbabwe. Because of your faith, others of you provide elsewhere. And because of your faith, you offer your prayers, the sweetest and most valuable gift of all.

I love you.

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