That's what I said to God--but there was even more. What? No family medical insurance? No guaranteed holidays back in the homeland every year? No retirement benefits?
And one last thing: Now that's going too far! You really don't mean that we are not to ask anyone for money to help with this ministry?
This is what I heard God saying to me in 1995. It was a call to fulltime stewardship, serving the Master with everything we had--time, talents, resources and faith. It seemed like a crazy idea and people told us so.
But Jesus' words rang through my head, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." We often sang the song "I Surrender All," and God had brought us to the test. Did we really mean what we sang?
January 1, 1996. Free: no debts, no employer and no salary--just a mission to live as faithful stewards, doing whatever God asked, no matter how crazy it seemed. The years have flashed by since then. To the original request, God added a medical clinic, a school, an orphanage and now a television studio.
Our life savings ran out all too fast but money started coming. People we had never met started sending money to advance God's work here in Cambodia. Land was bought and buildings were erected. Lay training began, with Cambodian converts from Buddhism training as church planters with two unlikely theologians from Western Australia--my wife and me.
We began to learn important lessons. Jesus said, "God can and will supply all our needs when we spend our lives seeking the good of His kingdom." Needs like learning a foreign language, being multi- skilled for multi-tasking, not to mention financial needs. We grew to understand God as our Master and ourselves as the stewards. It is not our work but His. He equips, supplies and brings His work to fruition. God does not need budgets or money in the bank before starting a project. He owns it all and if we believe, we will never run short.
We are still in the middle of the rice paddies in Siem Reap but now God's work has grown from lay training to caring for 169 orphans and operating a boarding academy, with 338 students studying from Kindergarten to Year 11. The television studio is half finished, with Cambodian language programming soon to begin. From being two stewards on a mission, we now have more than 40 others who serve with us, living stewardship as a lifestyle for the Lord. Each day, our highest calling is to do all for the glory of God and the growth of His kingdom.
Crazy as it may seem, God has never let us down. None of us have ever gone without food. With each passing year, the stewardship responsibility grows. With each new responsibility, we go further and further out of our depth financially, technically, academically and physically. Despite this, it is as if we are walking on water. Stepping out of the boat and walking with Jesus is an awesome way to live.
Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. Matthew 6:32, 33.
Tim Maddocks is originally from Western Australia but he and his family have lived in or near Siem Reap, Cambodia, since 1992.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God