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MY MISSIONARY CAREER IS OVER!

by Murray Cornelius

Satan wants us to think that God is stingy. He caused Eve to focus on what she could not have rather than on what she could have. She could have everything in the garden except the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Still she focused on what she was not allowed to have.
I remember these words well: “I am afraid my missionary career is over! No one is going to support me.” A good friend was faced with the challenge of personally raising her own support for the first time in 15 years of faithful and diligent missionary service. Our mission agency was shifting from a central funding model to what we call “Shared Funding.” The primary burden for fundraising was now placed on each individual missionary. As she left Africa to return to Canada for the purpose of raising her support, she feared she might never return. She was anxious that no one would support her. She did not consider herself to be a dynamic speaker with a charismatic personality. In her mind she was unknown, a person without connections. How would she ever raise enough to finance the work? Who would support her? Just over a year later, she was back training nationals to disciple children and reaching out with love and care in one of the remotest parts of Africa. There was a new joy, a new financial security and a bedrock faith that God was with her and had placed His stamp of approval on what she was called to do. But let me not trivialize the journey she walked. It was not easy and it tested her faith to the core. It was hard work, but in the end, it was rewarding and faith building. She had personally discovered some wonderful principles about the “muchness” of God.

Resourcing from the reserves of “muchness”
Now I know that “muchness” is not a word, but in the Cornelius Concise Dictionary it describes the God of lavish abundance who has an overflow of blessing that He pours out from His reserves on those who follow Him and seek first His kingdom. Resourcing one’s ministry is not just about the skills and best practices of fundraising. It is about foundational principles—spiritual secrets about the supply of God.

When I find myself stretched by the challenges of ministry—particularly the financial challenges—I go back to a favourite old book. So on my recent trip to India, I read again Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I have had the book for years. It is tattered and held together by tape, but it builds my faith and reminds me to cast my cares upon the Lord. The essence of Taylor’s simple, profound secret is that this man drew for every need, temporal and spiritual, upon the fathomless wealth of Christ. His famous line is that “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

“O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you”
(1 Chronicles 29:16-17).

We need to understand that God is a God of lavish abundance who has an overflow of blessing that He pours out from His reserves. God wants to bless. He is generous by nature. He is not the kind of God who does not want to be bothered or disturbed. He is not too busy. He is jealous for us and longs for us to come to Him with whatever we are facing.

“‘I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 31:1).

Resourcing from God’s abundance is always connected to His kingdom
If what you are doing is not kingdom focused, God is not going to provide. But if you have given yourself to His purposes and are focused on what He has called you to do, He will supply.

Satan wants us to think that God is stingy. He caused Eve to focus on what she could not have rather than on what she could have. She could have everything in the garden except the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Still she focused on what she was not allowed to have.

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

Priority and passion in prayer unlock the resources of God’s abundance.
God’s righteousness refers to what He has in His heart: justice, kindness, integrity, honesty and the desire to bring every lost child of God back into relationship with the Father. If we are seeking God’s kingdom and we are concerned for what is in His heart, He will provide.

Resourcing your ministry is not a waste of time
A common complaint about the responsibility of fundraising is that it keeps us from our work and eats up too much time. Really? The truth is that it is time well spent. Fundraising is not just about raising money. It’s about building. It’s about building the prayer network that is absolutely essential for success. It’s about building personal faith through the discipline of continually driving ourselves to depend upon God. It’s about building a clear vision through the repeated act of taking stock and refining the details of what we are about and what we are doing. Supporters want and deserve a clear, well-defined, visionary mission. They want to know that their investment is producing fruit which brings glory to God.

Be a generous giver
“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).

As a minister it is easy to think that because we have already sacrificed to be in the ministry, we are somehow exempt from the principle of giving. “Since I gave my life, the Lord doesn’t also expect me to give my money.” But the truth is that we must be models and examples of generosity.

We are not to be end users. We are to be channels of blessing. We must be models of generosity. Let the 10 per cent tithe be a starting point—not a goal. Anyone who claims to be a leader in the community of disciples should give no less. We must give in the manner that we wish people would give to us. If you want to enjoy a flow of abundance, give cheerfully and generously. Set a goal to give a minimum of another five per cent of your income to reaching lost people with the gospel. Budget so that you can live on less than 85 per cent of your income and make generosity central to your life. Be someone who starts a chain of blessing by supporting the work of God out of the “muchness” that you have received.

Giving also helps you to recognize the fine line between faith and presumption. As you give, God will place faith in your heart for your own ministry and you will be able to take on new challenges that you know He has placed in your heart. Through your generosity, you will take on dreams that arise from a heart given to Jesus.

There are times when I fantasize about God providing miraculously through the lottery or the riches of one who gives millions so that I don’t have to focus time on raising money and living in dependence upon the faithful giving of the saints. However, God has chosen to fund His work through His church, where everyone is equal in the call to sacrifice. We do a great disservice when we deprive God’s people of the opportunity to invest in the advancement of the kingdom.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means”
(Luke 8:1-3).

Final Thoughts
The techniques, the skills and the best practices of fundraising will break down if the foundational principles are not in place. This is not to minimize those skills and best practices. We must diligently send reports and say thank you often; we have to be excellent story tellers; we need to master technology that is always changing; and we must call people to give with courage and conviction, knowing we will receive many rejections and sometimes be treated with disrespect. But if the foundation is firm, if principles of faith are ingrained, we can resource our ministry.
“Never live in your ministry. Never live in your circumstances. Never live in your life. Learn to live in the heart and provision of a God who absolutely adores you … He never changes.”
—Smith Wigglesworth
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MURRAY CORNELIUS IS THE ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT FOR INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS.
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