[b]Money And Gods Work[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
When considering the building of the Body of Christ, why should we start with a chapter on money??
Because money is the greatest alternate master to God in this world and Jesus said that that no-one could serve both God and Money (Luke 16:13). Grace is the greatest power in Gods kingdom and money is the greatest power in this world.
So I realized, that if I am to build the Body of Christ, it was vital that I be free from the love of money and that my methods of obtaining money for my personal needs and for my ministry be godly. Many Christian workers have not thought through this issue and so they end up in all sorts of compromises.
When I started serving the Lord full-time, I took two decisions in relation to money:
(1) That I would never make my financial needs known to anyone but my heavenly Father.
(2) That I would live very simply so that my needs would be minimal.
By Gods grace I have been able to maintain both those decisions until today.
Most of my ministry in the early days was to poor people in village churches and I refused to receive any gifts from them, because their standard of living was much lower than mine. Some others however (who were richer than me) would occasionally give me gifts, and I received enough for my expenses each month, as long as I was single. But once I was married and had a child, I found that what I received was not enough for my needs.
How could I meet my familys financial needs now? I did not want to be the salaried employee of any Christian organization, lest I become their slave. And of course, I would certainly not send out circular letters hinting about my needs. I would also not visit rich churches, merely to get gifts from them. The well-known preachers in India preached only in the large cities. The great need for in-depth ministry was therefore among the poor people in the villages of India. So I asked the Lord to send me to those villages and He did just that.
However, since I had to provide for my family, I found myself frequently thinking about money. I knew that those who are called to serve the Lord full-time should not be thinking about money frequently just as a person called to be single, should not be occupied with thoughts of sex. One whose mind burns with sexual thoughts is obviously not called to a single life; and one whose mind is always on his financial needs, should not be in full-time ministry. So, in January 1970, I decided before the Lord to wait for another six months. If by the end of that time, my mind was not freed from preoccupation with my financial needs, that would prove to me that I did not have grace to continue in full-time work. I would then take up a secular job, and serve the Lord in my spare time.
One week before that 6-month deadline expired (in end-June 1970), a Christian group sent me a letter stating that they wanted to support me with a fixed amount that would be enough for my familys needs. On my part I would have to give them all the gifts I received for my ministry. I could choose whatever ministry I wanted and go wherever I felt led to go and they would not control me in any way. I was amazed at their offer, because I did not know of any organization in the world that supported Christian workers without controlling them. Those who gave money always pulled the strings! I saw then that this was the Lords way of confirming to me that He had indeed called me to full-time ministry.
Once we started our house-church however, I felt I should stop receiving this financial support, in order to be an example to others in India. The Lord then led me to support myself as the apostle Paul did. God provided for Pauls needs mostly through his own occupation as a tentmaker, and partly through gifts from the Philippian believers. God now changed the mode of my financial support as well and He did it in such an amazing way that my original desire was still fulfilled: My mind would NEVER be on money.
I was 35 years old when we started our house-church. All I knew was how to navigate ships and how to fire guns and torpedoes none of which was of any use in getting a job in Bangalore!! I did not have much skill in working with my hands either. I also needed to find a means of earning an income that would not tie me down to Bangalore, for I had a burden to spread the good news to many other places in India. I was the Lords servant first and foremost. The apostle Pauls example challenged me in this area. Although he supported himself fully with a secular occupation in Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus for many years, he never allowed his secular occupation to become primary. He was an apostle first of all and he always made the Lords work His top priority.
I decided to invest the little money that I had (that I had received as an inheritance from my parents), in companies that would give me a good return for my investment. I did not speculate in the stock market, for then my mind would always be on the market-value of my shares and not on Gods work. I decided instead to invest directly in companies, without going through the stock-market. Amazingly, the Lord made the government of India also to help me at that time by their passing certain laws that enabled me to invest directly in a number of good multinational companies. I knew nothing about investing then, just as I knew nothing about preaching or writing, when I started doing those things. But God saw that my desire was not to make money, but only to earn enough for my familys needs. I had very little money to invest. But God took my five loaves and blessed them miraculously, so that I have been able to support my family for more than 30 years now, with that. By Gods grace, our familys bowl of flour and jar of oil have always remained full (1Ki.17:16).
I had always wanted to be a living demonstration to my generation that there was a loving Father in heaven Who cared for His children. And God has enabled me to be such a testimony for Him. All glory and praise be to Him alone. Amen.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon