I recently saw the photo below with the caption, “Online Dating in the 1930s.” You’ve got to laugh at that!
But this photo also reminds me about what is NOT true for our ministry and our CCW team. We are NOT just hanging on provisionally, or in any other way. And that doesn’t mean we haven’t had a lot of last-minute deliverances, but something much more profound. Let me explain.
Pam and I just finished reading through Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets once again. As you know, Taylor began the China Inland Mission (which later became Overseas Missionary Fellowship during the leadership of a beloved friend, J. Oswald Sanders). Taylor is well-known and revered for his confidence in God amid huge difficulties. Like us in our smaller ministry, Taylor was relying upon God at every turn and expected God to supply all that was needed for a thousand plus missionaries. He is the one who famously said, “God’s work done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply.”
Like Taylor, we don’t feel like our ministry is just barely surviving but is as supported as it can possibly be. Ponder that. It is provided for by God who has unlimited resources to put into our use for every need we have! He is our wealthy partner in ministry. Sometimes that need is met in a last-minute way, granted, but it is always supplied. Neither his disposition toward us as his children, nor his sufficiency to supply, is in doubt.
Over the nearly 35 years of CCW, no bill has been left unpaid in the ministry, or ministry objective which he initiated left unfunded. In the beginning of our work we determined that we would only look to God for help and never ask anyone for funds. Only one time did we miss a bill on the family side of things. For some reason, we could not come up with the money until the day after it was required. We don’t understand why, but it surely said more about us than God.
That one incident aside, think of the way God has consistently supplied every need for our work and lives for 35 years (1985) by the hour it was needed. That’s every hour, every day, 365 days of every year, for over a third of a century! It means that overall a few million dollars have been given by God strategically moving the hearts of people to send help. We never wrote a letter or talked with any person in order to solicit funds, but looked only to God.
We believe our method financially isn’t the only God-approved one — not at all — but we do believe it was God himself that led us to do it this way in order to demonstrate how he answers prayer and provides for what he calls the believer to do. So, we aren’t just hanging on but are standing firm on a solid rock of God’s provision. Or, in another way of saying it, we have a heavenly bank that never runs short. It is as important a part of CCW to demonstrate how he supplies as it is to carry out the labors we are assigned to do.
We have seen this provision of God again this year. Our three ministry families who serve in CCW have been able to take care of their families, paying every bill, and we have together been supplied for extensive ministry travel, evangelism, counsel and support for church planters and pastors, Bible Intensives, Muller Center, printing, websites, as well as numerous other ministry opportunities.
Many of you who are reading this letter were involved in sending help or in praying for our work. God has used what you have done in wonderful ways in order to reach people for Christ and teach people about Christ. Thank you for being a vital part of the supply. He has done it, but you were used as his means to carry out his will.
This won’t change unless one of two things transpires: One, we become sinful and unrepentant (please pray that this won’t happen), or, two, he leads us through lack of funds to either end or redesign our ministry. We have often said that we will stop the moment God stops supplying the help we need. So far, we’ve seen no indication that either of the above is happening.
So, please rejoice with us! And let’s together watch as God supplies for another year of ministry.
Jim and Pam Elliff (with Steve Burchett and Kole Farney)