By US standards we grew up with very little. The World Mission Prayer League philosophy (or more accurately said “theology”) is that God will provide for the needs of those who in obedience follow the call to cross cultural boundaries for the sake of the Good News. Yes, we lived in hand-me-downs and home sewn clothes and the soles of my shoes often flopped a while before they were replaced; but we always had food, and clothing, and shelter. Inspite of our little, we were comfortable and content.
I can only really remember one occasion when lack caused me a moment of chagrin. I was in sixth grade at boarding school. We were having our annual field days filled with athletic events. I had grown up playing soccer, I played barefoot on a gravel field during my second and third grade years, so I didn’t have the upper body strength the kids who played football, basketball, and softball/baseball had developed. I couldn’t do push-ups or pull-ups. I didn’t have the hops for longjump or highjump. What I could do was run, and the 100 yard dash was going to be my event. I don’t know that anyone else noticed. No one said anything to me at end of the race. The winners got their rewards, but the losers got nothing, not even words of consolation.
As I remember it, I was in the lead at 75 yards. I clearly remember glancing left and right and not seeing anyone in my field of vision. That’s when the soles on my Keds decided they had given me all the steps they would. The flopping toe became a flopping half bottom. I actually don’t remember if a fell or if I crossed the finish line. I do clearly recall the tripping and the floundering and the loss. I was crushed; but as I look back, the crush was probably more that I didn’t get that consoling pat on the back a dad would have given me who having noticed would have known that on that day in that race I really was the fastest.
Pastor Paul certainly experienced hardships far beyond anything in my life. My moments of need pale by far. So, when he invites us to follow his example in living the life to which we have been called, it is not an empty invitation. It may very well be that in my lifetime yet, we will come under greater and greater pressure; and the suffering for our faith may truly become real. It would be of benefit, then, for us to cultivate this attitude that Pastor Paul passes on to us so that when we do find ourselves in need we can say with him “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (http://tiny.tw/9bM