One of the most impacting books I remember reading in college was Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi death camps during WWII. The primary point that I came away with was that the one thing that cannot be taken away from you is your ability to choose how you will respond to or view your life’s circumstances.
The concentration camps did an excellent job at taking away people’s family, their freedom and even their dignity. But as Frankl saw so many people, even after the war, slip into the living-dead state of despair, bitterness and hatred, he realized he had a choice.
We get to choose our perspective. I know from first-hand experience just how easy it is to allow oneself to feel like someone has stolen your hope or your joy. It is easy to say, “They made me so mad!” But in truth I am the only one capable of choosing whether or not I will become angry, or bitter, or hopeful or anything else.
As we wrap up month four of fundraising for church planting I am realizing just how important Frankl’s point is in our lives. Several weeks ago I found myself struggling to maintain a positive outlook. It seemed like there was no end to the list of folks who were saying, “We think that what you’re doing is great, but we can’t help you. Good luck.” Most frustrating were those who expressed confidence in us personally, in our passion, our calling and our ministry…but because of the non-traditional nature of our church plant they weren’t going to be able to officially support us.
This was beginning to have a negative impact on my perspective. And then God decided it was time for me to stop acting like a baby!
Through a series of events I met and had coffee with a church planter from the Assemblies of God. After having visited Tammany Oaks and talked with me only once he offered some incredible encouragement and affirmation – both on our calling and the content of our message. He even expressed a desire to maintain contact as his church plant may be interested in helping us once they get established.
I left that conversation with a choice. I could continue in my frustration at minor setbacks or I could realize that God has been so much more than faithful in sending us a constant stream of blessings, reminders of his love and affirmations of his calling.
I decided that I was going to choose a better perspective. And I believe that (in part) because of that choice, God has opened even more doors. At the time of my conversation with this other church planter we had no congregations seriously considering support. As I am writing this there are four different churches who are going to be making decisions about substantial one time gifts and/or continuing monthly support.
We have raised 35% of our total goal from individuals and families and we’re expecting confirmation of at least two more commitments in the next few days. We are heading to San Antonio this weekend for a fundraising dinner and Chris is meeting with another mission’s committee regarding our support.
Our family here at Tammany Oaks continues to remain supportive of us and I’m constantly being told how much we’re appreciated here. Our biological family continues to make sacrifices, work tirelessly and pray constantly for us. And 22 different individuals and families have already expressed their support through special gifts and monthly commitments. Chris and Heidi have been focusing on raising support for us, when they could justifiably say, “Sorry we’ve got our own mountains to climb.”
It seems that every time I turn around I’m talking to someone who just had a conversation with someone else who was telling them about what we’re doing. We are getting very close to seeing this dream become a reality!
At the end of the day, I have nothing to complain about. I have cried out to God in my despair and he has continually shown himself to be quick to save. I will continue to put my hope in the Lord for in him is full redemption.
I am very grateful to everyone who has partnered with us so far – either financially or in other ways like hosting events, spreading the word, etc. Many of you have committed to prayer, I believe that these prayers have provided a buffer between us and exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, and so many other forms of darkness.
If you’ve been thinking about making a financial commitment but have been unsure because of the economy – I understand…trust me I REALLY do! Let me encourage you, if you haven’t done so, to put this before God and ask if He is calling you to step out in faith in this way. I will not make any claims that if you send this money that God will send it back ten-fold…you guys know what I think about that business.
Honestly, your participation with us in this ministry may bring you much persecution. But I believe that we will be blessed and refined by this fire. I believe that partnering with God in his mission will ignite within us something rich and deep…something we were created to experience but often miss because we are afraid. I look forward to sitting down with you sometime in the near future and telling you about the individuals who have hope and light and life where before there was nothing but despair, darkness and death. This is God’s mission of reconciliation and God will not fail.