Ok, friends, I'm back. My blogging sabbatical is at an end. I'll explain the circumstances of my silence in my next post, but this time I must share "the rest of the story" to our Compassion for Christmas campaign. (See previous post.)
In preparing to launch our campaign to the GAP young singles group, our mission project leaders felt that we should set a goal for the number of food parcels our group would send to provide aid to Zimbabwe. Jim suggested that 20 could be a good goal. We decided that we should spend some time praying about it, that setting an arbitrary goal apart from the Lord's leading would do more harm than good. So, we planned to spend the next few days praying about it on our own, and we would come back together and see if we had been given an answer.
This whole exercise was a bit challenging for me. For some reason, I had never prayed for the Lord to direct me to a numerical goal like this. Sure, I'd prayed for direction, for answers to tough problems, and I had experienced the Holy Spirit prompting me with an answer. Numbers, however, seemed awfully specific. Would any number come to mind? How would I know the difference between the Lord's leading and my own best guess?
In my prayer time over the following days, I laid all these concerns before the Lord, and I asked for a clear answer. Suddenly, I had the number "25" come into my mind. Doing the math to see how much money that would equal, I quickly shook the thought aside, saying, "20 is bold; 25 is nuts." As I continued to pray, though, I kept feeling compeled or urged to 25. I simply could not ignore it any longer.
I emailed our leaders and just told "I'm thinking 20, but my heart keeps telling me 25." They both replied that day that the Lord had been impressing them with 25 as well. So we had our answer.
We all agreed that this was an outrageous goal, one that we could not motivate or inspire people to hit on our own. We decided together that if God had led us to this goal, that it was His business what He was going to do. We shared the goal with the group on launch day, and we kept them up to date each week on how we were doing. We focused, however, on the Bible's teaching for us to be compassionate, and to be responsible only for what God had entrusted to us. We intentionally highlighted the significance of each gift rather than the need to reach the goal.
On Celebration Day, January 11, we had collected $1,623, enough for 18 food parcels. We praised God and shared what the Lord had taught us through this campaign, and prayed for the people who would receive this aid, that their hearts would be open to the Gospel. After our meeting, I was told that more money had been given that day, though we had planned to no longer receive funds. I looked in the box and found $495, enough for five more parcels. Later that night, I received a text message from someone else who wanted to give money for another parcel. And then during the week, I received the final dollars necessary for us to hit our mark.
The Lord led us to trust Him with an outrageous goal: for 45 or so single adults in their 20s-30s, many with school loans, several still in graduate school or seminary, to sacrifice in the midst of the most stressful season of the year in the face of the greatest economic turmoil any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. Because of God's provisional work in us, $2,250 was given, in big gifts and small, to feed 150 people for over a week. Because of this, people we will never meet, never see face to face on this earth, will hear the Gospel and be our neighbors in eternity. And I learned a little bit more about trusting God.