It’s a few weeks now since I posted a fresh entry on the blog. The fact is we have been going through a really tough time in the work of Ellel Ministries, and I have been more than fully occupied working with our teams as we struggle to support the essential finances of the ministry. In these recessionary times we’re not alone in the struggle, for I know of other Christian ministries who are also in regular intercession for the ‘daily bread’ which enables them to keep walking forward with the work God has given them to do.
We are constantly living in the place of tension that lies between the understanding of God that Paul gave us, when he said in Philippians 4:19 that “My God will supply all my needs through his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”, and the experiences with God, that Paul also had, of being in great need, without even “food or clothing” (2 Corinthians 11:28)!
Trying to understand the ways of God who is, without doubt, Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will provide) for His people, sometimes leaves us with more questions than answers! But one thing is certain – it both tests your faith and throws you upon the Lord in new ways when the supply doesn’t seem to be there. I’m sure that Elijah was asking God a few questions when the brook Kerith dried up (1 Kings 17:7), especially as it was God who had sent him there in the first place and told him to drink from the brook. If I were Elijah I would have been saying something like, “God – I know you sent me here, so why has the brook dried up. Don’t you know I can’t live without water?”
But it was only after the brook had dried up that God gave Elijah fresh instructions to go to a widow in Zarephath (1 Kings 17:7-16). There was no advance notice of God’s further provision! Trusting God in such circumstances is, of course, the essence of faith. But it was while he was in the place of dire need that God was also preparing Elijah’s next source of supernatural supply – Jehovah-Jireh was at work providing for His prophet.
I don’t know why it is that so often in the history of Christian missions, the supply runs out before God gives new instructions and new sources of provision. At those times it’s so easy for the critics to get out their manuals of how they think God should operate and start voicing their opinions, such as: “If you’re going through such a tough time, surely you must be doing something wrong – my God wouldn’t do something like that!” I’ve often heard words such as “God can’t possibly be with you if you’re struggling with lack of funds.”
Many times I’ve had to stand firm in faith, trusting that the God of Elijah hasn’t changed his character. On one occasion we were totally desperate for funds at a critical time in the growth and development of the ministry. It was a season when we were really pushing through to teach about deliverance as well as healing. It felt as though the enemy was gloating over our financial problems.
Our leaders were deep in intercession, our staff weren’t being paid, bills were long overdue and we were desperately struggling – until one morning when our accountant called me on the phone to say that he had just opened an envelope containing a cheque for £50,000 – and with it was a promise for a further £50,000 soon to come!
An intercessor had been praying for some time for the work. She read in the Newsletter about some of the needs and made a vow to the Lord that she would like to give £100,000 to the ministry! On the face of it her vow to the Lord was an impossibility – she didn’t have that sort of money and had no way of earning it. So her vow was unlikely ever to be called upon – or so she might have thought! But one day she had a letter from a lawyer who told her that a man, who had always appreciated her smile and kind attention in the bank where she worked on the counter, had died. As a thank-you for all her years of kindness, he had left her his house. When it was sold, the house realised almost exactly £100,000. She remembered her vow to the Lord and without hesitation she honoured the Lord with her promise and sent the money to the ministry! God knew all about this, long before we were at our point of crisis – but it was only a crisis for us because we couldn’t see what God was going to do next. It wasn’t a crisis for God!
That experience has kept my strength up on many subsequent occasions – and even now when we are going through one of the toughest financial seasons in our history, I’m looking back at that occasion with thanksgiving and looking forward at the same time with anticipation, wondering what God is going to do next. I’ve no idea – but I am praying, and trusting that God has another “widow of Zarephath” somewhere (or perhaps many of them),through whom He is going to make provision for the next phase of the ministry. We would really value the support of your prayers at this time.
If you feel God may be prompting you to provide some “flour and oil” to help support the ministry or would just like to read about the situation and pray for us, please click on the following link: www.ellelministries.org/support/appeal