I can remember the day that I approached my church with the ministry idea that my daughter had shared with me. She was twelve and she had this beautifully compassionate thought that she could gather people to help her make a difference in the lives of others, who might need a dose of courage and hope.
We had written a letter to Day-Star television about the ministry that was on Ashley’s heart and received a letter and $500 check from Joni Lamb. Now we needed our home church to support us. Ashley had the wonder and excitement of a child and I was apprehensive. After all, what if they thought it was a silly idea? What if people did not want to participate? What if, what if, what if???
We took the $500 donation and used it to purchase all kinds of needful, useful and pretty things. We went to the local shoe store and asked if we could have all of their empty boxes. They donated hundreds, and so it began. God was making Ashley’s ministry dreams a reality.
The church accepted us as an official ministry with a few restrictions. Ashley was “too young” to run a ministry. I would have to manage it and all of the resources and contacts (little did I know at the time that God was shaping me to study to become a pastor and that this little shoebox ministry would explode into something that needed a staff).
As our story unfolded, so did the plans God had for me to enter into full-time ministry, go back to college and become a licensed pastor. As a young adult, Ashley went on and performed missionary work in Russia and Mongolia, but in the years in-between, we handed out more than 3500 shoeboxes to needy men, women and children. We grew a large and bustling ministry, offering practical assistance, compassion and spiritual direction for those in need. Food trucks, meals, coats for kids, clothing, back to school programs, partnering with community agencies, literacy programs, foster care programs, nursing homes, specialized programs for women and so much more.
God had taken a small seed and grew a great big harvest because we were obedient and willing to serve. But I remember being so apprehensive and worried about rejection in the beginning…and all of the “what if” questions that rolled around in my head. Fast forward to 2017. I finally listened to the call that God had put on my heart back in 2007 about creating these COURAGE BOXES, HOPE BOXES, RENEWAL BOXES and HEALING BOXES. Holy smokes! It only took me 10 years!
My goodness, God has given me experience in all of these areas–courage, hope, renewal and healing. I have been through more life experiences where I needed to call upon these areas than most people know or could comprehend. And yet, orders started coming in for the COURAGE BOXES and as the orders came, the greater a fire of fear was burning in my belly.
I have learned enough along the way to know that when God wants to move people and use you to touch them with His word, the enemy of our souls will torment us into believing that what we have to give is not enough, that we are not equipped, that it won’t make a difference, it’s silly, not pretty, that people will reject us or it and a whole host of other fear based internal dialog.
There sat the COURAGE BOXES…and I had to muster up the COURAGE to send them. I stayed up late into the wee hours of the morning for several nights reading the Bible. So I know that I am in for a great adventure, roller coaster ride with this new aspect of my ministry because when the enemy tries to fill us with fear and doubt…God always has a bigger plan.
There is the short of my story.
I mustered up the COURAGE to ship the COURAGE BOX orders. I leaned in closer to God through His written word and prayed through the fear and I used past experience to teach me that when God has a great plan, the enemy will try to throw us off course.
Here’s the thing:
I think when fear kicks in–we need to take a step back and evaluate because all ministry belongs to him. We are vessels that the spirit works through. Projects like this are divinely inspired, we do not own them. So, if you are working on something to share with and minister to others and you suddenly get overwhelmed with fear, take a step back and evaluate the situation. I know that God has a plan and a purpose for you and the desires of your heart. Understand that fear based thinking is not of God but of the one who would try to hinder you from taking the path God has for you.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Ephesians 6:10