This is a short and sweet testimony from an outreach that I co-lead. In Panama we did a lot of street evangelism, called ''treasure hunting''. If you are in YWAM then you most likely know what that is, but basically we would split up into small groups and ask God: Where do we go, to whom shall we talk, what shall we do. Often times God would give us pictures, impressions, bible verses, etc.
One of the groups had an amazing experience where they prayed and heard three different things: Orange (they were not sure if it meant the color or the actual fruit), a blue hat and a cane, and then healing for back and knee. With such a strange combination of things they started walking and what did they see on the ground? Orange peels! A whole track of them! So they followed the peels and saw in a dark corner a man sitting who had a blue hat and a cane! They walked over to him and talked to him and he had pain in his back and in his knee. They prayed for him and what happend?
God healed him on the spot!
The guy began to jump and dance around but that's not the end of the story. A young man had seen the whole encounter so he came over and asked them what happened. They explained it to him and he said he also had back pain. So they prayed for him and he got healed too! God is so good!!
YWAM is one of only two christian missions organizations in the world whose members are self-supporting. In other words, all YWAMers raise their own support and even pay a monthly fee for the privilege of serving in the organization. It allows us the faith-building opportunities to lean on, depend on and rely on God for all our provision. The obedience of His people is a large part of that process so it provides for wonderful partnerships to be developed.
When I began my YWAM experience, I had worked diligently to develop a network of folks who knew me, loved me, and were committed to stand with me in missions. I was young in the mission and quickly discovered the old adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was still alive and well in the hearts of even well meaning folks. Within about 6-8 weeks of my departure to full time service in Australia, my monthly support dropped to dangerous levels that would not meet my monthly expenses. I went to my leaders and asked for their counsel. I quickly discovered that my focus was on people and not on God. He is always faithful though His timing is all His own!
When I changed my focus to God as my provider, and saw those who stood with me as partners, not supporters, God's provision began to be released and my relationships came into order too.
I began to experience the reaping from the proper sowing of good seeds of faith and trust. As I was serving in the Communication Department, a communications school was being planted in Europe and I was challenged to prayerfully consider attending it, with the hope of eventually taking on the leadership of the school on my home base in Canberra, Australia. My daily routine included a short walk before dinner. As I was finishing my walk and stood at the back gate of the base, the sun was setting and silhouetting the facility. Beautiful! I stood there enjoying God’s creation when I began to dialog with Him about this amazing opportunity that was being presented to me. Europe. Additional training for my future calling. Tuition and airfare!! I could see growing pains in faith becoming clearer.
I was in the valley with finances, $465 behind in paying my staff fees. I had received a donation from a friend that very day of $14.67. I held both these before the Lord, like the scales of justice, grateful for the donation, concerned over the debt, all the while trusting God to come through for me.
I was standing at the back gate with all these issues swirling around in my heart and suddenly I saw something in the sky just above the silhouetted trees. It was a small cloud, just sitting there. I began to sense this knowing rise up in me that all is going to be okay. Holy Spirit brought to mind the story of Ahab, Elijah and the rain. (I Kings 18:41-46). "Tuck in your robes and begin to run, I will provide in the 11th hour." I knew I was to say yes to the call to go to Europe and trust the Lord to see release of provision. My flight date was just 6 weeks away!
The provision began to come and staff fees were caught up, but as I got closer to the date I was still in need of a significant amount for the trip. $1500 for airfare and $3000 for tuition. Lord, You said…
In those days a travel agent needed to book tickets by Friday, no weekend services, so he called me to see how the fundraising was going. There was a longtime client in his office who knew God’s faithfulness in provision who advised him to go ahead and book my ticket even though I didn't have all of the money. Meanwhile, things were stirring back at the base. I began to have people walk up to be pull cash and coins out their pockets and throw them at me. They would see me coming down the hallway and start digging for money. It was hilarious. By the end of the day, with some additional seed money from the base planted in the soil of the future schools, I had my full airfare. Accounts gave me a check and headed to the travel agents office first thing Saturday morning to pick up my ticket. They closed at noon. I stood at his desk, handed him the check and looked up at the clock behind him. It was 11AM! God provided at the 11th hour.
Remember the ‘God timing’ thing? I was still waiting for the release of funds to fully cover my tuition and I got as far as the USA for a stop over to see my family. My mother was in failing health so each time I got to see her was a possible last time to see her. I faxed the school leader asking for her advise. She said, “come and we will stand with you. This is the Father’s gift to you and His will will be done.” In the end, I completed the school, returned to Australia still owing $1000.
Not the end of God’s story in this adventure. My dear mother finally had her eternal reunion with her Lord. I was still overseas. When I returned home and all the details for her estate were settled, my inheritance was $1000.
God’s provision for the balance of the tuition. God’s timing is God’s timing - even at the 11th Hour.
Growing up, I had a lot of dreams for my future including financial success. In fact, the draw towards becoming a pediatrician was, in part, the promise of a six-figure salary. It also helped that I liked math and science. Although I didn’t become a physician, my intention was still to have what would be considered a profitable career. Earning a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins’ public health school would ensure that, right? Instead, God had other plans. He called me into full-time ministry with YWAM a few years after achieving that degree.
I’m sure you can imagine the shock and the total disruption to my plan to sense God saying that. It looked crazy and DEFINITELY couldn’t be His will for my life. Why would I work to receive degrees from two prestigious universities only to shelve them for a life in missions? Yet, I obeyed and did a Discipleship Training School (DTS) less than six months after God’s call —quitting my job and seeking the prayers and financial support of family, friends, and churches. I still remember the challenge to trust the Lord in that way. I was stuffing envelopes with my support letter, addressing them with the help of an encouraging friend and freaking out the entire time. I kept asking her: “What am I doing??” Thankfully, she had also been through YWAM training and was excited for me. Her encouragement and faith helped mine. Even though I didn’t know how the tuition and fees for the DTS were going to be paid, I believed God’s word to me and acted on it. And you know what? He came through! Within the first week of my school, I had enough finances for my fees as well as extra to help other classmates! God was teaching me what it means to trust Him for financial provision, and not myself or my career.
That was 15 years ago, and God continues to stretch my faith in financial provision. Recently, as my ministry support dipped, I was tempted to make up the difference on my own by getting a job as well as doing other funding techniques. However, the Lord said: “Don’t do anything differently” in response to my questions about my low funds. For a person who likes to “make it happen”, doing nothing differently isn’t exactly easy. But, again, obedience to His word has yielded miraculous provision on His part. People have donated to my ministry unsolicited by me and at just the right time. For example: I have received the exact finances needed to satisfy a bill just as it was due; people have given me groceries or invitations to meals (my fridge has never been fuller); and much of this contact with others has yielded opportunities to share my ministry vision with those whom I would not have had the chance otherwise. God’s also challenged me to be generous, contributing what I have to others’ needs that arose demonstrating my dependence upon Him. The best thing has been seeing our God as the truly big God that He is. He is not limited by our circumstances. The bottom line is to hear God’s voice and obey Him in every area of our lives, including our finances. There is no sweeter reward than that.
Woah, I thought to myself looking at the guy I was to sit next to for the next several hours. I was headed to Asia on a United Airlines flight from the USA. My assigned seat had me sitting next to a guy with his shirt sleeves cut off at the shoulder, exposing his well developed biceps, a tight body shirt to display his equally well developed six pack, head shaven and loaded with tattoos and piercings and an invisible sign on his forehead which read, "Don't mess with me".
That's exactly what I will do, I thought to myself as I took my seat.
The story continued something like this.....
"Hi, my name's Kel." I sat with my hand extended. He took my hand and said, "My names Saul".
"I've never met someone with your name before but I've been reading a book where a couple of the characters have the same name."
"Interesting." he responded.
"What do you do, Saul?"
"I'm a kick boxer", he said. "America's champion. I'm on my way to the Asian Championships where i'm hoping to win and become number one in the world!"
"Wow, quite an ambition. How long you been doing this?"
"I imagine you've broken a few bones along the way doing that."
"Sure have. Broken bones in nearly every part of my body."
"Surely there's got to be an easier way for a man to make a living than that." I suggested with a grin on my face.
He smiled and said he loved to fight.
"What do you do?" he asked.
"I'm a fighter too." I said.
He looked at me rather strangely and asked, "What kind of fighting do you do?"
"I fight for mens souls."
"You one of those Christians?"
"Sure am, been at it for years, but happy to report, no broken bones!"
"I used to be a Christian", he said. "I married my sweetheart right out of high school and ran a Bible Study in our home for five years. We were "Born-again" ones, you ever heard of them?"
"Sure have." I assured him.
Saul continued. "One day when I came home from work, there was a note on the table from my wife, she had left me with a baby son, I never saw her again. I became bitter and angry, blamed God and decided to do what ever I could to burry my pain. I became a bad man."
Then, turning towards me and eye-balling me, he said, "Not only a bad man sir, I'm a wicked man and have done many wicked things".
"Remember I mentioned to you I've been reading a book where there are a couple of people with the same name as yours. Since you studied the Bible for several years you will know all about Saul of Tarsus. How he believed he was helping God by persecuting the Christians, having them thrown into prison and killed. The man had blood on his hands. I don't know if you have any blood on your hands, but he sure did. On the road to Damascus, the Lord intervened and struck Saul with blindness for three days. His life was turned around and instead of Saul persecuting the church, he became a great Apostle and served God with all his heart. Do you think it might be possible that the same God who intervened Saul on the road to Damascus, loves you just as much and has sent me to intervene you on your road to Asia."
He thought for a short while, then catching my gaze, nodded affirmatively.
"What would keep you from coming back to the Lord today", I asked. He just sat there with big tears swelling up in the tough man's eyes and replied, "Nothing."
"Come on then, let's pray and make your peace with God right hear and now." So we did.
The moral of the story is to make the most of every opportunity and to not walk away from opportunities to talk to the tough guys. They're often not nearly as tough on the inside.
-Kel Steiner, Pioneer and Base Director
Photo taken by YWAM Virginia Staff.