God's Provision, God's Way :: Gospel Fellowship Association Missions

God's Provision, God's Way

Forrest McPhail
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Have you ever been hungry to know God in a more personal way? To step out in faith, take risks, and see answers to prayer that cannot be explained outside of His working in your life circumstances? Not just to know about His work in history, but to know experientially that He works right now to accomplish His perfect will?

Starting Deputation

When we were in our mid-twenties, my wife and I began raising support to do church-planting ministry in Cambodia. We barely had any monthly support commitments, and we had few personal friends in church ministry, so nearly every meeting was a “cold turkey” contact. Our sending church was in Chicagoland, so armed with a recommendation letter from our pastor, we strove to obtain meetings in the area, only to discover that almost every church was booked solid for the next year or two! This forced us to schedule meetings further out from my hometown where no one knew us.

We promised the Lord that if the funds were not in the bank to cover our daily needs, we would never use a credit card to meet them. We wanted to trust Him to provide while we learned to be less dependent on “stuff” in preparation for life in a third-world setting. Between meetings and weather permitting, my wife and I and our baby girl often slept in a tent at campgrounds or state parks. We made good use of housing at Shepherd’s Bethel Mission in southern Indiana whenever we could to keep costs down.

We chose to go to any church that allowed us to come, even if we were warned that no support was possible due to limited funds or a small congregation. We wanted to serve and share our burden for missions wherever God opened a door. We were blessed as we rubbed shoulders with church families in difficult places.

We were at 17% of our needed support for so many months that we sometimes faced discouragement. Love offerings from churches varied widely. Some were very generous, while at other times the gift did not even cover our travel costs. The latter would give us the blessing of seeing God provide for our needs in specific and unusual ways. 

Our faith was stretched, then stretched again, then stretched again. It was not always easy to fully trust the Lord with our needs. But each experience deepened our faith in God’s ability to provide, even when circumstances seemed impossible.

We Need Cash, Lord!

Our bank account was empty. We had just enough cash to pay for gas to get to the church a couple of hours away in Indianapolis. When we arrived at the church Sunday morning for the meeting, I was earnestly praying that God would move upon the pastor or whoever gave the love offering to give it in cash. We could not immediately deposit a check, but our needs were real and immediate. My prayer was simple: “Lord, we need CASH!”

The Sunday morning meeting came and went. I was determined not to think about our financial need during the meeting. We were packing up our things in the parking lot, and no one had yet given us a love gift. Then the pastor came out and graciously gave us the honorarium—a CHECK. I smiled and thanked the pastor, but inside I was praying, “Lord, you know I can’t put gas in the car with this!”

But it was worse than that. We had arrived that morning with our gas tank already well below the “E” for empty. The pastor said that we were to have Sunday dinner at his son’s home across town and taking the expressway to get there. We were in a pickle: gas tank well below empty and a significant drive ahead at high speeds. Now my prayer was, “Lord, for Your Name’s sake, please don’t let us run out of gas on the side of the road! It would be a bad testimony to your people, causing them to think You cannot provide!” We prayed all the miraculous way there.

Before I turned off the engine, our host came up to my window. He asked, “Do you need gas?” I looked at him dumbfoundedly and replied, “Yes, I do.” He pointed to a nearby gas station. He explained that he loved to fill up the gas tank of God’s servants whenever he could. My next prayer was, “Lord, help me get over there without running out of gas!” God did, and we got a full tank.

We had great fellowship and enjoyed our time over Sunday dinner. Back at the church that evening, I reminded the Lord that we still didn’t have money for food. Perhaps cash would still appear? As we packed up, someone handed us a basket to put in the car. It was full of sandwiches, fruit, and snacks that would feed our little family well until we could cash that check.

I assumed God MUST give us cash, but He instead provided for our needs in ways that tested, amazed, and taught us.

We trusted in the many promises of God’s Word regarding His children, such as Matthew 6:33. We believed them and actively rested in God’s promise. But our understanding was not yet complete on this point. We failed to realize that God’s provision is not bound to our expectations about how He will provide. He supplies our needs, yes, but He decides what we really need. He also decides how to provide, which is often outside the box of our expectations. He is always faithful.