[2nd in a series about God’s provision]
I’d like to tell you a little about our life in the last few years, as one story illustrating God’s goodness in trying circumstances. Perhaps it will give hope in a dark season.
I’ll start sixteen years ago, although that is certainly not the beginning. We were living near San Jose, living the Silicon Valley lifestyle. We had the requisite house, two cars, two kids, and a steady, dependable income that covered our expenses with a bit left over.
Even at this point, we weren’t quite typical. Pete worked as a computer technology consultant. He was paid on an hourly basis by his many clients. As his rates climbed with his growing expertise, instead of raising our standard of living, he started to work less. We determined how much money we needed to live on, and stopped there. The time this generated was donated to various local Christian mission organizations.
At that time, in an average week, Pete would spend ten hours per week at a secular company, earning his regular consulting fee. Then he would work thirty or more hours helping ministries. His top priority was involving other Christian techies, just like himself, in what God was doing around the world. What better place to find those with computer skills than Silicon Valley?
In a sense, we were “tentmakers” like the apostle Paul, who met his own financial needs by working at his trade. Missionaries on support can easily spend a quarter of their time maintaining a good relationship with their donors. Pete spent that time earning dollars. In both cases, the focus is on the ministry, not the money. We could have gone on this way indefinitely, but God had other ideas.
I had been aware for some time that God wanted us to further simplify our lifestyle. Praying for guidance, I was searching out books and believers who could help us move in that direction. The Bible was challenging. I knew we had a long way to go. But the several mature Christians whose advice I sought were frankly not that much help. They were astonished that we were limiting our income. They had little to add to what we were already doing.
Then we received a phone call that would answer my “simplicity prayers” in a most unexpected way.
Pete and I had been volunteering with a new organization in San Jose, the AD2000 and Beyond Movement. Started in 1990 and intending to function for the next ten years, this was a network of ministries around the globe who shared the goal of, “A church for every people and the Gospel for every person by the year 2000.” The dynamic leader of this network was a passionate Argentinean named Luis Bush. It was Luis who was on the phone.
“Pete, AD2000 is moving to Colorado Springs, and we’d like you to move with us.” We were stunned. Move away from the land of high tech companies and computers? That made no sense. And we’d lose our source of income in the process. This couldn’t be from God! We explained to Luis that we’d had no inkling God was directing us in this direction.
“Well, pray about it.”
How can you argue with that? So we prayed. And God answered.
It was 1993. The California real estate market was in a severe slump. More than a year was generally needed to find a buyer. If we were going to sell our home now, we wanted to make sure this was God’s idea. Then, once we had moved away, with the differences in pay scales and housing prices, we would be unable to afford to move back. Was this really God’s intent?
With the purpose of making sure we were hearing God clearly, I asked for three signs from Him during the next week. “We want to obey You, God. I just want to make sure I know what that entails,” I prayed. And… God gave us six signs in three days!
We were directed to a series of scripture passages during our prayer times. Genesis 12:1 was first and most obvious, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.’” (TNIV) A friend of ours had no idea that we were considering moving. Yet, she called and gave us another verse, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Rom. 8:14, (TNIV)). We received a bunch of advertising mail—not unusual in itself, except this was all about vacation homes in Colorado! Someone sent us a calendar. All the beautiful photographs were scenes from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
Even my parents were enthusiastic when we told them what we were considering. Now, as I am an only child, our two girls are the only grandchildren they have. And here we were, wanting to move them over a thousand miles away. They were excited about this? I still consider that the biggest miracle of all!
The peace we felt about this decision left us no doubt that God was telling us to get out of town. We put our house up for sale, right around the corner from a very similar house that had been on the market for over a year. Only, our asking price was much higher. Higher? The real estate agent insisted. Oh well, we could always lower it later. Except, our house sold in three weeks. Suddenly, the moving van was being loaded, good-byes were said, and we were on our way.
Wait a moment, God! What about building a donor base? (…to be continued)