When I think of the many needs around the world, I quite often say, “God sure has missed a lot of opportunities to be early!” Do you feel that way today?
I have never understood God’s timing on when He chooses to deliver His answers and/or provisions. I know many readers of this article have often pondered the same question. Yes, I know God is my provider. I have seen miraculous provision time and time again for more than 30 years, and I’m still learning God’s grace in this area.
God is good. God is gracious. God is faithful. His love endures forever. His love never fails. He is our healer. His voice is mighty over the waters. He is all powerful. He is all knowing. He is faithful to his own. I know all of these facts and many more about our loving God to be true; however, I live a daily life that continues to face ongoing challenges as a part of the vision He has put into my heart for reaching people for Christ. The ongoing process of walking in faith and living out our lives as believers is an ever-changing landscape. We enjoy so much of God’s beauty and experience the joy of meeting so many of God’s wonderful people along our journey.
As leaders, we experience all of this within the role we have, as we work to be faithful to our call. There are challenges, and there are victories. We have good days and faith-challenging days. When we work on projects that require funds to be raised to meet a particular building need or program need, it can be challenging. Sometimes, the Lord surprises us, and the funding just comes easy. What a blessing when this happens!
There are other days, however, when we are under a time schedule, and we need a certain amount of funds to arrive to meet a deadline. It is at this time when I believe God misses many opportunities to be early. Please, don’t write and say that God is trying to teach me something by providing at the last moment. I know that! I have learned that (it seems a hundred times over) through the many projects I have developed over the last 35-40 years. I know that God is always faithful. He does sometimes say “no” to us, and that is one of the hardest lessons. The Great Commission is our guide, and our Global Teen Challenge vision to put hope within reach of every addict around the world is driving our efforts.
We have been working with some incredible people to design and develop software that will assess, measure, and provide outcomes to Teen Challenge on recovery. We are literally weeks away from completing this work and making it available to those here in the United States for beta testing. We will begin translating sometime mid-2020 and begin rolling it out globally. We have also designed and built an app that will allow any individual with recovery issues to access care through the app. This process has been extremely expensive, and even as I type, we have 12 full-time computer programmers working to complete the software. The financial responsibilities, as well as developing the operational costs for GTC, are one challenging hill to climb; however, God is good, and we are seeing Him provide. Although, I often wish He could respond earlier with the provision. It is always a walk of faith.
Over the last year, I have also been working on several other building projects, and one in particular is in Sanford, Florida. Many of the buildings in that facility had just simply worn out and could no longer be refurbished. I have seen God provide funds for four of the buildings, and just recently, He provided the needed funds for the last two buildings.
A few weeks ago, I met with a family, and when God touched their hearts, they chose to fund one of the new dorms. Praise God! Why isn’t it always this simple? Why doesn’t God just do it this way every time? We now have one more dorm to build, and I need another donor to help make this happen. We are also in contact with TC leaders around the globe who have projects they have asked us to pray about and to see if we might match a donor with their need. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, but God is still amazing. He puts the right tools into our hands at the right time to help us accomplish the goals. It does take prayer. It generally always requires hard work, and it does take faithfulness and His provision.
Remember when God taught Moses a similar lesson when he also doubted and struggled with the issue of provision and feeling like he was not enough as a leader to fulfill God’s plan? In Exodus 4:2, we read, “So the Lord said to him, ‘What is in your hand?’” When calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery from the Egyptians, God simply asked him, "What is in your hand?" It was just a staff, a common tool used by a common worker for a common purpose, but God used it for something greater. He transformed it into an extraordinary tool for the extraordinary purposes of turning the Nile River into blood and parting the Red Sea.
When the prophet Elisha was approached by the desperate widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7, He simply said, "Tell me, what do you have in your house?" She said she had nothing at all except a small jar of olive oil. It turns out, one jar of oil isn't a bad place to start. God supernaturally multiplied that one jar of oil until she had enough to pay her debts and live with her sons on what was left.
When feeding the five thousand, Jesus simply asked the disciples, "How many loaves do you have?" Five loaves and two fish were more than enough (Mark 6:30-44).
How did these miracles start? They started with something that seemed to amount to nothing. Something I have also said for years is, “You never get a miracle unless you need one.” The problem is, if you need one, you are usually under some kind of pressure to get one. This is never fun, but seeing the miracle happen is. It’s all in God’s hands and in His timing. Dr. Brene Brown said, "Leaders must choose courage or comfort. You can't have both."
John Maxwell says, “If you are ever going to see above the crowd, you have to stick your neck out.” You are going to have to risk, and you are going to have to have some level of discomfort to arrive at your goal.
We are faced with so many opportunities, and we can never take advantage of an opportunity unless we have trained and prepared for taking advantage of one. Innovation (being creative) is always a place of risk, and it always means you can fail and sometimes fall flat on your face, but you can also win, reach your goal, and see the glory of God help you see your dream become a reality.
USA President Theodore Roosevelt said, "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it."
I wrote in my book, Dream to Reality, that it is important to hire people smarter than you. What I mean by this is that you must build a team around you who will help you reach your goals and the goal of the ministry. It is tough getting all of the right team members on board, but it is necessary to do so if you want to win. Then, do what President Roosevelt said, and stay out of their way, and empower them to succeed. It sure makes things work better when this happens.
Let me encourage you today. God sees you, and He knows exactly where you are. He cares about your situation, and He will see you through. Hold onto His word, stay true to your call, and see Him reveal His glory.
Jerry Nance, PhD
Global Teen Challenge