Joining God in the Arena of Risk

Have you ever tried to push a car up a hill? Some friends of mine did. They tried for an hour, pushing and pushing and then having to let the car roll back down the hill so they could try again. It wasn’t until one more person jumped in line behind the car that they finally made progress. That person wasn’t big or strong or especially fit. They were just another body. Sometimes that’s all it takes! Just one more person. YOU could be that person for Forbid Them Not Ministries.

One More Person

This summer at Forbid Them Not, we are focusing on Growing Together. The last two weeks we have challenged you to grow with us in the areas of (1) sharing the Facebook group with others and (2) Prayer. This week we hit the challenge that strikes where the rubber meets the road—or in the case of my friends, where the rubber meets the slippery hillside.

Forbid Them Not operates by faith. It always has. As the Psalmist said, we wait on God because “[our] expectation is from Him.” We have seen God do amazing things on very little. We have seen Him provide when we did not know where the funds would come from. When the Lord laid it on our hearts to hold the Forum on Fatherless in March, we had $116.79 in our general account. We had not taken out any of the month’s reserves for rent, insurance, salary, or any of our other expenses, but we knew God was leading us to host the forum.

Our first expense was purchasing postage for the letters that would be going out to pastors in our region. The postage cost $98. We took the step, bought the stamps, and trusted the Lord. Three days later, an unexpected $50 came in, a little later an unexpected $100 came in. God provided every step along the way. In fact, by the time it was all done, not only were all of the expenses covered but we were also able to give love offerings to our two guests speakers who traveled so far.

“This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23

As we grow, we have no intention of operating in any way other than with our eyes on God as our Provider, but we do need to grow in the area of financial partners. We are currently operating on a “committed” income of less than $700/mo. (You read that right.) As mentioned earlier, this must cover all of our operating expenses, including rent, insurance, and salaries. We have a small amount remaining from this year’s Green Bean Project with which to help local single moms and fatherless children. We know that this is not an impossible situation because we have already seen God provide in mighty ways. We would simply like to invite you, to challenge you, to come along with us on this journey of faith.

I have always struggled with inviting others to partner with the ministry. Not because I do not have a passion for the ministry, not because I do not want the ministry to grow, but because I know what it is like to live on nearly nothing. I know that when you or I give to missions, especially above or beyond what we are accustomed to giving, it can be a huge sacrifice. As I shared in last weeks’ post about prayer, I am a natural listener and sometimes fail to speak. But I am also a natural “doer” for others and very often hesitate to ask anyone to do something, which I feel might burden or inconvenience them. Instead, I just trundle along and make do. I am so grateful to a man named Jerry Long, who is now with the Lord. He helped me see how wrong my perspective has been in this area. Last year, Jerry encouraged me to study Philippians 4:17. What I found amazed me.

Philippians 4:17 is a short, simple verse, but the use of one word in this verse packs a lot of punch. The verse says,

“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”

The word logos is translated as “account” 8 times in the New Testament. In all but two of those, the Scripture is speaking either of someone giving an account of us or of us having to give an account of ourselves. One of those two exceptions, Hebrews 13:17, tells us how to make sure those over us can give a good account (through obedience and submission). But Philippians 4:17 is the only verse that tells us how to have fruit that abounds to our account.

Paul was speaking to the Philippian believers, praising them for the fact that they ALONE ministered to him financially when he first went into Macedonia. He called the things they had sent to him, “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice well pleasing to God.” And then he made them a promise, a promise that is just as good for you and me as for the Philippians,

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Over the years, I have been concerned that by inviting others to partner with this ministry I was inviting them to take on a financial burden, but that isn’t true. The invitation to partner is actually an invitation to bear fruit and lay up treasure in Heaven, to fellowship with us in this ministry, and to watch God provide.

And so, I lay out this week’s challenge: Will you be that one who will step in behind Forbid Them Not and help push it up the hill? Will you take a risk and let God prove Himself? Will you lay up fruit to your account? Will you partner with Forbid Them Not?

I believe God wants us to grow. I believe He wants us to grow TOGETHER. And I want you to have the joy not only of watching Him work but also of being a part of that work. We’ve made it very easy to join us. Simply, click the link below to go to the partnership page on our website, which allows you to set up monthly investments in the ministry through PayPal.

We have already stepped into the arena of risk, and we have often seen His reward. Won’t you join us?

Click here to enter the arena!

Element of Risk

 

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Confessions and How You Can Pray

Growing Together

This summer, we’re focusing on Growing Together at Forbid Them Not. Last week, I shared a short video with you that lays out some of our goals for this season of growing. (If you missed it, that’s okay, I’ll share it again at the end of this post.) In the video, I challenged you to join us in growing a group of people with a heart to see the fatherless come to Christ. This week, I’d like to challenge you to grow with us in the area of prayer.

 

Over the last year, I’ve been learning that I’m not very good about voicing to others the things that are on my heart. I’m a natural listener, and that is good for what we do here because if you do not hear, it is almost impossible to respond based on the Word or with discernment. But this strength comes with an inherent weakness—the failure to speak.

Most missionaries struggle with finding the right balance in prayer letters and blogs. What do I share? People want to hear what will encourage them. They want to hear that their investment in our ministry is paying off. But what about the struggles, the stark realities, the needs?

Some would say that if a missionary is truly walking by faith they will NEVER share the needs they are facing because they should be able to trust God alone to meet that need. God should be enough. And He SHOULD be enough, but what about the balancing principle that we are to bear one another’s burdens? How can you pray if I never tell you about the need? How can you comprehend the full depth and breadth of the answer, if I have never told you the full depth and breadth of the need?

So today, I’m going to speak. I’m going to be open, honest, and maybe a little blunt. I’m going to share with you how you can be praying for us, and I’m going to challenge you to COMMIT to pray with and for us.

Here are 8 ways you can pray for us:

  1. That God would be magnified through this ministry.
    We want to operate in a way that allows Him to reveal that in HIM the fatherless find mercy. (Hosea 14:3)
  2. That our hearts and minds would be attuned to the leadership of the Lord.
    It’s easy to get caught up in all that needs to be done and suddenly realize you haven’t stopped to listen to the most important Voice. This ministry can be draining emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Pray that we will be aware of the need to spend extra time with the Lord and TAKE it. Running on fumes helps no one.
  3. That fatherless children, single moms, other guardians, and members of our community would come to the Lord through this ministry.
  4. That churches both in our community and in other communities would be strengthened through this ministry.
    Pray that we will have wisdom as we share with others what God has taught us about ministry to the fatherless and single moms and how they can apply it in their own communities.
  5. For wisdom and boldness as we reach into heartbreaking situations. Imagine this…
    You’re sitting face-to-face with a fourteen year old who, with tears streaming down her cheeks, says, “I’ve been a burden since I was seven years old. My mom kicked me out to please her boyfriend. He’s abusing her.” How do you answer her?

    A frantic phone call comes in from a single mom whose parents are telling lies about her and have pulled her into a custody battle with the state. What resources do you offer her?

    A fourteen-year-old boy wants to be a man and lead in his home, but can’t seem to resolve the anger and hurt caused by the rejection of his father looking him in the face and saying, “I don’t want you in my life.” How do you guide him to forgiveness?

    You receive a late-night text message from a single mom who has lost her children, “Is it wrong for me to hate the man who abused my children for the things he did to them?” What hope do you offer her?

    We need your prayer.

  6. For financial partners.
    We are currently operating on approximately 8.5% of what we estimate we need to be fully operational. This must cover our operational costs as well as our ministry costs. We have seen God do AMAZING things in our poverty, and we don’t ever want to come to a place where we are not relying on Him. But we also know that in order for us to minister effectively, we need partners who will consistently invest in this ministry. Our prayer is that God will raise up partners who have a heart for both the fatherless and this ministry.
  7. For volunteers
    We can’t do the work alone. It’s too big. 31% of the children in our county are growing up in single-parent homes, and 48% of the children in the next county! Laborers are needed. Over the summer, this will be one of our main areas of focus. Please pray with us that even now God would be stirring hearts to join us in projects, in mentoring and discipleship, in teaching classes, in providing transportation, in offering whatever talents the Lord has given them to be used to touch the lives of the fatherless around them.
  8. For wisdom in balancing time and priorities.
    Right now, we have a staff of two. We both have other work, are active in our churches, and want to be involved with family as much as possible. Sometimes balancing everything can be a bit like juggling knives. Please pray that, as Hudson Taylor said, God would be our one great circumstance, and that we would follow His direction and leadership. He has already provided and led in amazing ways.

So there it is. My heart. Our need. Prayer is something we often take for granted. It’s something anyone can do. It’s something we assume others are doing. Sometimes it’s something we commit to do and then forget about—sadly. It can become routine. But it shouldn’t. Prayer is powerful.

Will you commit to pray with us about these things, maybe not every day, but at least once a week? If so, please let us know by simply leaving  note in the comments. We covet your prayers.

In Case You Missed It, Here’s Last Week’s Video:

Growing Together

2014-08-15 10.53.29It’s spring, and that means things are beginning to grow and bloom. Some of you are already well into your growing season. In Montana, we are just beginning to see the leaves open up on the trees, the tulips are still blooming, and the lilacs—oh, the lilacs! I actually drove through an alley yesterday just to get an up close view of the bush behind our office. I love watching things come back to life in the spring and seeing the growing process through which the various plants go. It reminds me of the resurrection and the hope we have in Christ. Spring also encourages me with the potential for the ministry of Forbid Them Not to grow.

A garden only yields abundant fruit when it is tended with that purpose. As we come into this summer growing season, we would like to see Forbid Them Not grow in many areas, yielding fruit that will glorify God and change lives. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more of that vision with you, posting encouraging blogs about growing our “garden” of ministry and yours, inviting you to be a part of the growth of Forbid Them Not, and extending challenges that will help all of us grow in our ministries to the fatherless and single moms. We’ve never done anything quite like this before, so it’s as new to us as to you, but as Hudson Taylor said, “Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God there is no need for faith.” We are trusting Him to do great things this summer!

The following, short video shares a little more about our goals for the summer as well as our first, simple challenge for growth. I am looking forward to Growing Together with each of you.

 

Click here to join the Forbid Them Not Facebook Group!

Are you growing a garden this year? Tell us about it in the Facebook group!

Pictures Welcome!

See you there!

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Forum on Fatherlessness Report

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8

IMG_3871We are certainly praising the Lord for all that He did not only this past Friday at the Forum on Fatherlessness but also throughout the weekend.

I want to thank each of you who took the time out of busy schedules to be there, to pray together, to learn together, and to be an amazing encouragement simply by your presence. I am so grateful for all those who traveled so far to come, including our speakers. You may never know how much joy it brought to my heart to see fifteen people spontaneously go to prayer Thursday night, to see people arriving an hour early Friday morning and fellowshipping until we were all ready to drop.

IMG_3876Only the Lord knows the full extent of work that was done for eternity on Friday. I have heard a few stories of how it touched hearts and how timely it was for certain situations in individual lives. Most of those things were shared in private, and I do not have permission to share them publicly, but I have had several people tell me that they came away encouraged, challenged, inspired and even revived. Pastor Spilger, one of our speakers for the day, sent me the following message,

“Rachel, Thank you for letting me be a part of your first Forum on Fatherlessness. It far exceeded my expectations. God did a mighty work. The need for this ministry is so great, not just in Billings, MT but all across this nation. We pray that God will continue to lead you and bless this ministry. We are also praying that God will help each of us who attended the forum to take the steps to minister to the fatherless and widows in our communities.”

IMG_3865This is the first next step for all of us—prayer. Even if you weren’t able to attend, you can pray with those who were there. An enormous amount of information was shared on Friday, and it takes time to filter that information through life and ministry into practical action. Prayer and the Word of God are the best filters!

Over the next week or so, we’ll be working to post the recordings of the sessions online. I will let everyone know when they are available. We are already making plans for another meeting next year as well as setting things up for the in-between time. For now, I would love to share some special moments with you from the day. Here are a few pictures (below), but to get a really good idea of how the day went, please click here. If you haven’t already joined our Facebook group, please do. It is the perfect place to share what God is doing in your ministry to the fatherless or to simply ask for prayer as you take steps forward.

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I Stand Amazed

The Lord is good! We all know this, but it’s so important to keep it at the forefront of our minds. Often struggles or difficulties find their way into our lives. We can easily lose sight of God’s goodness in the midst of the storm. As I was finishing out 2016, the Lord repeatedly brought to my attention the importance of “declaring his doings.” Even Christ quoted the Psalms and said, “This was the Lord’s doing, and it was marvelous in our eyes.” (Mark 12:11 and Psalm 118:23) Often as we step back and see what God has done for us, we can but marvel.

This is just one of the things that we want to focus on in 2017, declaring God’s doings and marveling at his works. What better way to start than by sharing His doings in the Green Bean Project?
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This year’s project was frustrating from several different perspectives. I was traveling the entire first month of the project, which made it hard to kick start things. But one day as I was driving across Nebraska, the Lord prompted me to use those miles as a target. So we set up the “Every Mile a Gift” campaign, which had a goal of matching each of the 4000 miles that I drove in October with 1 Green Bean Donation ($1.15). The other struggle that we had was social media in general. Facebook is always changing things, and we had several important posts that were seen by almost no one! BUT GOD IS BIGGER THAN ALL THAT!!!

We didn’t meet the 4000 mile/match goal, but we did match 1905 miles! In reaching this milestone, we more than doubled our highest ever before Green Bean Project total! Because of God’s faithfulness and your investment in the GBP we were able to send just over $560 to each of the children’s homes overseas as well as being able to start out the single mom’s ministry in Billings with a Green Bean “infusion” of $500 and 40lbs of school supplies! (The school supplies were originally planned for the ministry in Kenya, but God brought in so many supplies that it was going to cost over $300 to ship! The missionaries there asked us to send the full financial gift to them and to use the supplies here to help single moms prepare for school this fall.)

God is good! His doings are marvelous in our eyes. As we were writing the checks for this project on Friday, Marta and I couldn’t help but praise the Lord! Who would ever expect that a ministry that is operating on 9% of its budgeted funding would be able to GIVE over $1600 to other ministries! We have seen Him work this way in so many things over the last several months and are excited to see Him continue to do marvelous things in 2017!

Thank you to all who participated in this year’s GBP! Only the Lord knows what the full effect of your generosity will be!

The GBP is not the only area in which God is working. As we look at this new year, we want to share more with you about Forbid Them Not (Beyond the Beans) so that you have a better understanding of what this ministry is all about and how you can be a part of helping us reach the fatherless.

Green Bean Project and an Opportunity

It’s October! And that means it’s Green Beans Season!

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Green Bean Project (GBP) started several years ago after a trip to Walmart to buy a can of green beans? Strange right? Not really. It all has to do with the result of one woman “being moved with compassion” toward me. You can check out the story here.

Since then, God has used the GBP to assist missionaries in Africa and Asia with their ministry to orphans as well as assisting in specific areas of our local ministry in Billings, MT. Combined, this project touches of the lives of nearly 500 children each year! Over the last several years, God has used the to provide textbooks, school supplies, fabric, clothing, and small financial gifts to these ministries.
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Each year the Green Bean Projects assists missionaries in Africa and Asia as well as our local minsitry in Billings, MT.  The GBP annually touches the lives of nearly 500 children.
This year, our goal is the same. We will continue to work with the ministries we have worked with in the past, specifically to help provide backpacks, school supplies, textbooks and a financial gift toward needed furniture for one of the children’s homes in Asia. We will also be including our local ministry among single moms and others caring for fatherless children. But this year will also be a little different.

God has brought about many changes in the ministry of Forbid Them Not this year. In fact, for the very first time our Green Bean Project video was made in our very own office! God has graciously supplied this space in December and it has been a tremendous blessing! We want to make this year’s Green Bean Season an opportunity to share more with you about where God has brought and where He is leading. We also want to give you ways to have a part in the ministry and to help us know how to better serve you through prayer and as your hands and feet in the work God has given us.

During this years GBP we will be introducing you to our new board members, sharing more about our local ministry and our future goals, introducing you to new ways to support the ministry (Like Amazon Smile), and setting aside time to talk with you individually our as a group.

I will be travelling much of October, but we would like to set November up as “Get Acquainted Month.” We would love to set up a time when we can get better acquainted with you and can share the background and future goals of the ministry whether locally over a cup of coffee, over the phone, or even via a Skype or Go-To–Meeting call. (Click here to set up a time.)

We also will have an exciting opportunity for kids to be involved in both FTN and the Green Bean project this year! (You can learn more on our FTN Facebook Page.)

I am very excited about what the next three months will hold! Make sure you don’t miss out! To keep up with the goings on, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or at Forbid Them Not’s Blog.

The Green Bean Project, isn’t really about beans. It isn’t about being relevant in a “got my cool clothes on” kind of way. It’s about getting down into the trenches with those who are in need. It’s about following the example that Jesus set when He left the splendor and comfort of Heaven to walk this earth in the form of a man. It’s about obedience, courage, compassion, commitment, WORSHIP, and doing the right thing.

So! Let’s get going! It’s time.

P.S. I apologize that, due to lack of internet access, this has been sitting in my computer for nearly week. The Green Bean Project is off to a good start, I’m looking forward to seeing what else God has in store!

Decisions that Don’t Make Sense

Sometimes we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense…

 

Sometimes in ministry we have to make decisions that just don’t make sense to the world, to our friends, maybe not even to our families. In fact, we may just find ourselves, standing in front of the mirror one morning, shaking our heads and saying, “You really must be crazy! Are you really going to go through with this?”

I had one of those decision-making moments a few weeks ago. But first, I have to tell you about another moment.

Work was crazy that Friday. Multiple times, I’d had people on both phone lines with two or three customers at my desk, vendors in and out, and residents just passing through. For some reason (I don’t remember why), I was the only one in the office that day.

Suddenly there was a lull. It was quiet for about five minutes. Then my cellphone began to ring. It wasn’t my habit to take personal calls at work, but when I realized it was from one of my single moms, I answered.  I listened as she said, “Rachel, I think I have someone you can help.” She went into a very long explanation of a heartbreaking situation. I realized God was opening up an opportunity to walk with a mom in need from the very beginning—before the child was even born. Then someone came into the office, followed by the carpet cleaners, followed by both lines lighting up on the office phone—I had to end the call.

I promised to help in two areas: finding parenting classes (something we would like to do in the future) and chasing down some leads on housing. I squeezed in a visit to LaVie Pregnancy Center later that week and managed to make one call on housing, but there was no answer. Then my job took over again.

Day after day, I tried to get out of the office in time to follow up on other resources for this new mother, but to no avail. Day after day, I drug myself from my desk to my car at the end of the day, having not eaten since breakfast, never had a break, never stopped running—always exhausted. It got to the point that the only time I was making it to the FTN office or to other FTN related work was if there was an actual established appointment with another human being. I was overwhelmed, and keenly aware that I was failing at the work that was most important.

A week after the initial phone call, I received a Facebook message from a friend and FTN partner. “How did it go ministering to that mom this week?” she asked. I cried. Then I answered, “It didn’t.”

The decision had already been made, even before this moment. In fact, even before the initial phone call I had already been talking with my manager about an exit strategy. This incident just drove home the fact that I had made the right decision. God is good, and He has given us a second chance. A week ago, I met with the single mom who originally called me to see if we could help. We had a very good conversation about the situation. Now we wait to see what the needs truly are as things unfold.

But I still had to make that choice, the one others might not understand. I had to resign my job. Not only was the situation destroying opportunities to minister but it had also become very unhealthy. I am convinced that if I stayed even a month more, I would have been in serious trouble health-wise. I praise the Lord for giving me the job, for using the strange way it all unfolded to open the door to get FTN back on its feet after Dad passed away, and I praise Him for answering my prayer and showing me when it was time to walk away.

Now I ask that you pray with me for wisdom for the next step. God has begun to open doors unexpectedly (unexpected to me, not to Him). This week a friend has hosted an online event that has allowed us to share about FTN with several people who are new to the work. In October, Lord willing, I will be in three churches to share about the ministry and to speak to ladies’ groups. Later in the month, I will be attending a meeting in St. Louis where, Lord willing, we will talk about the need for ministry to the fatherless. These are exciting events. I see God’s hand in them, and am excited to see what else He has in store!

Please pray that the Lord will continue to guide and provide. FTN is currently only at 7% of the funding that we estimate we need to be fully functional. This means that neither Mrs. Trout nor I currently receive any personal support through the ministry. I want to give as much energy and time to the ministry as possible. We are trusting that God will provide and give wisdom as we go into this new chapter! I am excited to see what He will do!

If you would be interested in hearing more, in setting up a time for us to share about the ministry, or in partnering with FTN, please feel free to contact me.