Our God is a Rich God

I’ve seen a few jaw drops when I tell people how much money I will need for my stay in Brazil. If you put it all together, I’ll need about $21,000 for the year (conservatively speaking). Asking people to give me $21,000 isn’t pleasant. Who has that kind of money to give away? And why would they? But I’m not asking people to give me money. I’m asking God.

Today, while praying, I remembered something that one of my One7 students said. Those girls taught me as much as I taught them. I started writing down a lot of the things that they said. This is what Khon told some volunteers one day in class: “It doesn’t matter if you got no money because God has all the money in the world and he takes care of you. God is awesome like that.” Or as Tri put it, “Our God is a rich god. He can have whatever he wants.”

Man, I’m gonna miss those girls. I sincerely hope and pray that God will bring me back to them one day. But for now, He has told me to go.

I’ve asked for Him to provide, but money doesn’t rain down from Heaven. God has already given us the things that we need on this earth. What’s so cool is that when we ask, He points it out. And through my asking and other people’s giving, God not only provides for everyone AND sends us where we need to go, but also grows us into the Christ-bearers that we are called to be. God is awesome like that! 

The One7 Girls:

Me, Gretchen, Khon, Chinh, MC

Maryan, Tri, Kiet (who eventually learned to smile), Gina

Personal Testimony

Every time I apply for a Christian organization, they ask for my Personal Testimony. Normally, I have to keep it down to 3 paragraphs: Before, Salvation, and Since. But while proofreading my concise “This is my relationship with God” speech for Wycliffe Associates, my dad said that I could really say more. So here is my long version:

Personal Testimony (long version)

 One of my best friends growing up was a boy named Ewout who lived across the street from me. I was from America; he was from the Netherlands; and we lived on a missionary base in Papua New Guinea. We were always trying to show each other up. He’d say, “I have four grandparents and they send me Lego’s and chocolate from the Netherlands.”

Then I’d say, “Oh yeah? Well I have six grandparents and twenty aunts and uncles!”

And he’d say, “Oh yeah? Well I have 50 aunts and uncles and 100 cousins!” I’ve since learned that these are not normal things that kids lie about to boast.

We used this same formula for many arguments. One of us would say, “I became a Christian when I was five!”

And then the other would answer, “Oh yeah? Well I became a Christian when I was four!”

And then the first would respond, “Oh yeah? Well I became a Christian before I was born!”

But the truth was that I couldn’t remember when I became a Christian. My mommy said that I was very cute when I first prayed to ask God into my heart. I grew up knowing that Jesus loves me; that God had the whole world in His hands; and that all the rainbow children of the world were precious in his sight. I danced to Psalty songs and I was very good at drawing pictures of Jesus on the cross with one good cross on the right and one bad cross on the left.

In 3rd grade, my family went back to America for furlough. Thanks to a generous gift from a Christian children’s book author, I was able to go to a Christian summer camp. At the camp, they told people that asking Christ into your heart was the most important decision you could ever make. I started to panic. I knew that I loved God, but I couldn’t remember when or if I had asked him into my heart! So I decided I had to do it again—and this time I would be sure to remember. I remember it was dark. All the other kids were singing praise songs. I timidly told my cabin leader that I thought I was a Christian, but I wasn’t sure anymore and I wanted to do it again. She took me to a quite place to pray. I cried. Then I went back to the group and acted like I had always acted. The only difference was that I was now confident that I was what I had always assumed that I had been.

Being a missionary kid was not easy. Because of my parent’s unrelenting decision to follow God anywhere, I was forced to pick up and move at least every four years. Sometimes it felt as if we were a nomadic family. Very little was consistent. However, my parent’s reliance on God’s provision set an example for me. I learned not to put my trust in this world or my own abilities, but in God–that no matter how this world shifts and what trouble I may encounter, God does not change; and His plan for me is good.

That truth sets the foundation that I live on. When I graduated college, I had my own ideas for what I was going to do with my life which included, but were not limited to: go to Morocco with the Peace Corps, go to Baltimore with Teach for America, go to Ecuador with Wycliffe, go to Cameroon with Wycliffe, go to eastern Europe…you get the idea. God did not honor any of these and the only place I went was back home to Mom and Dad. Even then, I knew that God does not change; and His plan for me is good. The key there was that the plan was His, not mine.

In the low moments of my life when I have nothing; when I feel like a failure or can’t imagine a future for myself, my hope rests in knowing that “all things work together for good for them that love the Lord.” He does not fail me. Each low point in my life is a time when God strengthens my trust in Him, realigns my values and goals with His, and then shows me how awesome His power is when it shines through my weakness.

I am humbled to say that I have been able to be a part of some amazing projects that—if you asked a worldly person—I would have been completely under-qualified for. But I am not alone in anything that I do. God is my partner and my strength. And in everything, He prepares me for what’s next in His plan.

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