On the seventeenth day of a complete fast, God spoke and gave me a missionary calling that has lasted to this day. It was February 1988. I was standing in a circle with four men at five in the morning in a pastor’s living room outside of Hanover, NH. We had been gathering for early morning prayer every day for several days.
I had been praying with a different student group on the Dartmouth College Campus everyday. And while I fasted, I studied campus revivals. This process led me to the history of student leadership in missions and the purpose of the university in Christ’s mission.
God whispered, “I will do it again through YWAM. I am going to establish a new student missions movement that will reach farther and go deeper than the Student Volunteer Movement of the last century.”
That’s when I was offered the job to lead the student ministries of that local church at Dartmouth, including a salary and a new Mac! I had just successfully reestablished the church’s campus ministry at this Ivy League college; it was now an international student ministry involving emerging leaders from forty countries. Tempting as the offer was, I knew immediately that I could not accept the position. God had clearly said “through YWAM.”
God’s Mission and my task in his plan is much bigger than a local church community, even if it is touching many nations. I was a missionary with an international and interdenominational mission. I turned down that job, with its security and prestige, to continue as a YWAMer, a faith missionary with a global vision.
In his letter to fellow believers in Corinth, Paul gets down to brass tacks, focusing on the essentials of money. He’s clearly stating the obvious: Some have made it a career pretending to be called to preach. They’re more concerned about money than they are the people God loves.
Though they expressed thanks for my time with them, that church did not choose to support my missionary work. I have been offered large sums of money since then, sometimes by a supporter who has a different plan for my ministry, and another time by a “super-apostle” offering cash to keep me in his game and to look the other way when something was not right. He actually pulled cash from his pocket and said, “How much do you want?” I walked away, saddened that he did not understand. I continue to say “no” to those offers because I have a stronger “yes” from the Holy Spirit who empowers me to be faithful to his call.
The call of a missionary is not determined by the offer of a position with money or power. You cannot be faithful to a call if you surrender your integrity. And even the support of faithful friends who faithfully give to support our family in missions cannot redirect me from the call of God.
The call begins with the Caller. “Though none go with me, still I will follow,” as the old hymn goes, “No turning back.” Like Paul, some of our friends completely miss the importance of the Call. God is the One who calls us. He is our provider. He will use creative means to provide for our needs, including side work like Paul had as a tentmaker. However, that work must be fueled by our passion for Christ and his mission, and we must remain faithful to His Call.
“I wonder, did I make a bad mistake in proclaiming God’s Message to you without asking for something in return, serving you free of charge so that you wouldn’t be inconvenienced by me? It turns out that the other churches paid my way so that you could have a free ride. Not once during the time I lived among you did anyone have to lift a finger to help me out. My needs were always supplied by the believers from Macedonia province. I was careful never to be a burden to you, and I never will be, you can count on it. With Christ as my witness, it’s a point of honor with me, and I’m not going to keep it quiet just to protect you from what the neighbors will think. It’s not that I don’t love you; God knows I do. I’m just trying to keep things open and honest between us. And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing “preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special. They’re a sorry bunch—pseudo-apostles, lying preachers, crooked workers—posing as Christ’s agents but sham to the core. And no wonder! Satan does it all the time, dressing up as a beautiful angel of light. So it shouldn’t surprise us when his servants masquerade as servants of God. But they’re not getting by with anything. They’ll pay for it in the end.”
2 Corinthians 11:7-12 MSG