God’s provision for our family has been humbling, to say the least. Especially when it comes to financial provision. Thanks to a fundraising event a few days before we began this adventure, we started the trip with $3,000. But, traveling in a gas-guzzling RV with four kids that seem to be constantly eating, we knew money was going to be an issue. But, we also didn’t feel comfortable asking people to financially support us. While we are a registered non-profit organization, we aren’t a 501(c)3. This is intentional. If people want to support us, it has to be from the goodness of their hearts, or a prompting from the Holy Spirit, not because they get a tax write-off. (Yes, we are aware of the benefits of being a 501(c)3. But, we strongly feel like this is the road we’re supposed to walk. And, we know that it doesn’t make sense from a “business perspective” but, this isn’t a business. It’s our lives… and the Lord has taught us SO MUCH through this one decision alone.) Yet, despite our reluctance to ask for help, the Lord still provided it. And I want to share this story with you.
It all started the end of April, as I was sitting in a RV park in Louisiana. I received a FaceTime call from a young woman in Rhode Island who had been in my discipleship group years ago. She began telling me how the Lord put it on her heart, and her husband’s, to financially support, on a regular basis, what our family was being called to. So many questions were filling my head: How did they know we needed money? Why would they want to support us long-term? Do they even know what they’re supporting?!?! I mean, at this point WE had a hard time articulating a coherent mission statement or objectives.
I will always remember her response to my awkward questions of “Why?” (I mean, seriously, just say thank you, Deirdre!) She talked about watching our family walking out this crazy faith journey and how they wanted to support it, how they wanted to support us… because we had always been there for them. And just like that, God began sowing into this ministry. (And through this family’s generosity, they have single-handedly helped us create a suicide prevention PSA, purchase fundraising shirts for TWLOHA and shirts to help support our ministry.) Honestly, they have made it possible for us to continue helping others while on the road, which is the heart behind Be The Change Youth Initiative.
Jamie and I were both floored by how the Lord was using this couple to speak to us. We had fought asking people for financial support, but He was bringing it to us anyway. And then, two weeks later, I received another call from young lady that was also in my discipleship group… telling me the Lord had put it on her heart to also financially support our family. I remember this call like it was yesterday. We were packing up the RV, heading out to Austin for a show. I had to walk out of the vehicle because I didn’t want the kids to see me cry. Why were people doing this? I was, yet again, humbled by the generosity of others, but also ashamed by my unwillingness to ask for help. God had put it on our hearts to ask for financial support, but we just couldn’t do it. Yes, there was definitely pride involved. But it was more than that. We didn’t have a business plan. We didn’t have ANY plan. (And the laughable thing is that we still don’t!) We were CONSTANTLY told that we needed these things to legitimize this ministry. And, on paper, we totally understood that argument… and our “old” selves would have probably added our voices to that worldly-thinking choir. But, here’s the truth: We didn’t see that example set in scripture, so we weren’t going to follow it.
A few weeks after this, our family made the decision to stay on the road for the remainder of 2019, followed by the decision to return home to Maine to regroup… and fundraise. Jamie didn’t want to go back north. We were in Georgia by this point and were headed to the Midwest. Going back to Maine would cost us about $1000 and then another $1000 to get to the Midwest from New England. So, we made the goal of raising $3,000 during our time in Maine and came up with a plan. We would ask our church for 5 minutes to share about our ministry with the congregation, asking them to prayerfully consider supporting our family and then we would meet with five families (outside of our church) to see if they would consider supporting us for the remainder of the year.
It was a good, reasonable plan and we walked it out pretty well… at first. I had the opportunity to share with our church family, specifically how the Lord had opened up this huge door for our kids to speak to their peers about the importance of mental health and suicide prevention. After church, our youth pastor gave us a check for almost $1,200, which was taken in from the offering that morning… and was WAY more than we were even hoping for. We were off to a great start, but as the week went on and we began meeting with families, something began to change. For one reason or another, every time we sat down for a one-on-one conversation with a family, either Jamie or I would be overcome with this feeling that we weren’t supposed to ask. When it came to the fifth and final meeting, it was actually quite comical. Jamie was the one to make the call that night and he pulled the plug only seconds before. I remember pulling him aside and saying, “You know this is our last meeting, right?”
He acknowledged it and then said he was okay with not raising the $3,000. Achieving our arbitrary goal wasn’t worth the uneasiness he was feeling… and I was feeling it to. Several people have asked us to articulate the uneasiness and I’m not quite sure I can. But, I will say this: Standing before a group of people, testifying to the work the Lord is doing, and then asking them to prayerfully consider partnering with you is different from sitting across the table from someone and asking them the same question. With the former, there’s no pressure. If people choose to give, chances are they’re being obedient to the Holy Spirit. With the latter, the same could be true, but there’s more pressure, intentional or not, for people to respond to the personal appeal. And, PLEASE, hear me out… I’ve nothing against the personal ask. But, the Lord was teaching us to sit and wait on Him.
And we weren’t expecting what came next.
A few hours after that final meeting that didn’t really happen, Jamie and I went to the church to start packing up the RV for the second leg of our trip. While there, our youth pastor comes over and hands us another check. After hearing our story the following week, people brought in donations to help our family continue on in our journey. They gave us $1,700! All we could do is laugh. In our obedience of NOT asking, He provided. And to make this story all the better, that night we received a text from one of the families we met with… but didn’t ask for financial support. The text said the Lord had put it on their heart to give our family $150 a month for the rest of the year. A few weeks later, that last family we were supposed to ask… they emailed us to let us know they were giving us $500 a month until the end of the year!
We’ve never asked for support the way people told us too. But, He was still faithful. His people have been faithful. These stories only scratch the surface. In the months to follow, I would get sick, and His people would step up to provide for our family. I need surgery in a couple of weeks, which means a prolonged stay in the great (and expensive) state of California… and His people are providing for our family. The future isn’t really clear for us right now. But it is for Him and we trust Him. Now more than ever… because He has shown His provision for us in ways that are inexplicable.
Our family is forever changed because we learned how to wait on the Lord. There’s so much we can manufacture on our own and then give praise to the Lord for our success. I think back to a friend of mine who shared the story of missionaries visiting from China. They visited some of the biggest and “best” churches in New England. When asked what they thought about the churches here in the United States, they looked at each other and coyly snickered before one of them replied, “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish without the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Whether we knew it or not, that was our life before this trip.
That is no longer our life.