Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Debt and Missions – A Toxic Mix

This past week has been eventful in terms of finances coming and going through our account.

About a month after Joshua's birth, we received an unexpected bill from the various professionals who attended us in hospital - in particular the paediatrician and the anaesthetist. We had already paid the agreed money to the obstetrician (thanks mum!), and the hospital bill had been covered by our insurance. But, it appeared that our insurance company hadn't paid up for some of the others. We resubmitted the claims to the insurance company, only to find out that they'd gone into administration. They agreed to pay a proportion of what was owed, but this left us about £500 (about $800) in deficit. This money, as you can probably understand, we don't have to spare! And when the insurance won't pay, we have to swallow the debt. We felt there was nothing to do but to put it on a credit card to avoid legal action being taken against us.

It was then that I read a blog feed on debt and missions. In Bill Hutchison's blog, he wrote: "One thing that I have seen again and again remove people from the mission field, or prevent them from entering the mission field, is personal debt. Personal debt can take many forms, including, but certainly not limited to Credit Card Debt, Student Loan Debt, Vehicle Loan Debt or Lease. I have seen numerous messages on twitter from people along the lines of wanting to join missions, but can’t because of debt. I have also seen people leave the missions field because of debt they had at home from before they joined or even because of debt they have incurred while on the missions field. Debt is very debilitating to someone wanting to follow the Will of God of their life. There is not one positive mention of debt in the Bible. Debt is always presented in a negative light. It is not a “salvation” issue, but there is not one time mentioned in the bible that debt is used to bless His people."

On checking my emails that same week, I see two that jump out of the page at me. One is from a friend of ours back home. This is a family which engaged with us and our desire for missions and agreed to support us on an ad hoc basis. The other was from my father-in-law. In total, they had sent us donations covering the shortfall.

What a blessing!

This brought to mind whether I should've put the money on a credit card or just waited. I challenged myself on "where was my faith!?", but also rejoiced in the fact that friends and family were obedient to God's call to support those in mission.

This gives me an opportunity to publicly offer our sincere thanks to all our friends who regularly support us and obediently, and often sacrificially give to our work in Africa. Your partnership is valuable and life-giving.

Whether or not I lacked the faith to believe that God would provide for us in our time of need, I know one thing is for sure: I am glad to not be in great personal debt whilst serving on the mission field. Becky and I may not have much materially/financially, but we have the freedom to go whenever God calls us, without the burden of debt holding us back.

Debt did hold us back before we left. Both Becky and I had a feeling about travel and getting into missions several years before we did, but I had personal debt that I felt that I had to 'clear' first. Through the grace of God, I managed it in 2009 and that's when we were able to start properly planning to go

2 comments:

Ulrike said...

Interesting thoughts, Pete, and so true. I know people who have not been able to go because of their financial position. I so agree with you about the part of faith in it all. I am learning to take God at his word. Debt is not honouring to him, but he does promise to provide. Not because we deserve it, but because he cares for us. I am learning to ask the Father specifically for what I need. I think that IS honouring to God. The person I mentioned above, once they stepped out in faith and said: 'yes, Lord, we will go', is seeing amazing miracles in terms of their finances. God is paving the way for them to go - in supernatural ways.
So ... keep trusting! You are doing a great job!

Ulrike said...

Interesting thoughts, Pete, and so true. I know people who have not been able to go because of their financial position. I so agree with you about the part of faith in it all. I am learning to take God at his word. Debt is not honouring to him, but he does promise to provide. Not because we deserve it, but because he cares for us. I am learning to ask the Father specifically for what I need. I think that IS honouring to God. The person I mentioned above, once they stepped out in faith and said: 'yes, Lord, we will go', is seeing amazing miracles in terms of their finances. God is paving the way for them to go - in supernatural ways.
So ... keep trusting! You are doing a great job!