(2009 July Newsletter)

Alfreda Ip

It is impossible to talk about faith in God without mentioning the importance of obedience to Him. Faith and obedience go together like salt and pepper. Although one can exist without the other, and each one has its unique flavor, it is only in the combination that the dimension of our relationship with God enlarges. Obedience happens as a result of faith. Interestingly, faith increases as obedience takes place. When you have more of one, you will certainly have more of the other. When practiced regularly, faith and obedience snowball to accumulate our experiences in God and our knowledge of Him.

Having witnessed the development of Presence Ministry since 2006, I have come to a better understanding of what it means be a faith-based organization. As fundraising is an integral part of any non-profit organization, I was also privileged to undergo such a faith-building process as I raised support for my service in China last year.

Initially, I was hesitant to write my support letter because it required me to humble myself and acknowledge my need to others. I had always considered myself quite financially self-sufficient. The lesson I learned here was to solely trust in the abundance and richness of God instead of relying on my capabilities and reputation.

This matter of faith in God is especially relevant as America faces a recession. There are many who have lost their sense of security and peace due to financial loss or the fear of it. If only we would place our trust where it belongs, God is eager to bless and prosper us. “All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:2)

Indeed, as soon as I put aside my pride and took the first step of obedience of asking for partners to participate in my mission, my fundraising goal was exceeded in merely one month. While I am thankful to my supporters for their generosity, ultimately it was God who moved their hearts as He intended to provide for me from the beginning. As well-known missionary Hudson Taylor once said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”

The lesson of faith became even more apparent when I arrived on the mission field. All the comforts and familiarity of home were removed. There was no choice but to trust in God’s promises. One time we were in the countryside visiting orphaned high school students. A 16 year-old girl told us in tears of her grandfather who fell ill. He was a frail old man in his 60’s but as the primary provider for the family, he tirelessly farmed a small piece of land, which yielded a meager income of about $200 a year. We learned that grandpa’s health condition prevented him from working. Since they lived in a remote mountainous region, medical care was not immediately accessible. We could not offer much tangible assistance other than telling her about our God of miracles and praying with her in faith.

Two months later, under some unexpected circumstances, our team traveled the great distance to visit this family. It turned out to be one of the most physically demanding hikes I had taken, but many blessings flowed out of our obedience to this specific task. Much to our amazement, our faithful Father had already answered our prayers for the grandpa. Without the help of doctors or medicine, grandpa had recovered to a point where he was able to tend to the field again. This amazing testimony reminded me of James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” In light of this incident and other opportunities God gave, I shared about Jesus with the student and she readily made the decision to believe in Him. This was just one example of how the Lord graciously added to my measure of faith as I tried to follow His lead. Sometimes, all it takes is a willingness to set aside our own agendas, to quiet the reasoning in our heads, and to tread upon the road less traveled.

Faith is not an abstract concept to be grasped, but an evolving experience to be lived out. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) This verse indicates that we cannot live our lives under the pretense of the Christian brand and avoid the essence of our beliefs with obedience. “And without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6a) Whether at home or abroad, in mundane routine or extraordinary encounters, may we all search out ways to please God with our faith and to prove our obedience to Him by our actions.

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