With tears in his eyes the veteran missionary gathered his children and grandchildren around him at the front of the church building. I had just finished teaching that God wanted to be, El Shaddai, the God of more than enough. Generally as I proclaim this message people respond and ask for prayer for freedom from poverty. But I realized God was doing something different as this man approached me with his extended family.
Here was a precious man of God and his wife who had spent much of their lives on the mission field. He shared that early in his life he felt called to the mission field and he told his wife and family they would “always be poor” because of their missionary calling. He went on to share about their experience of never having enough, both when they were on the mission field and when they were home. And now he saw the same lack reproduced in the lives of his children. He wanted me to pray and break the power of his words over his family.
I asked him to pray first and cancel those words of financial lack he had spoken. He stood in his place of God-given authority and prayed. Then I followed in a prayer of financial blessing for the family as God met them in a beautiful time of prayer and restoration. The whole family left with a burden lifted and anticipating God’s abundant financial blessing.
In studying spiritual gifts we find a gift called voluntary poverty.1 Voluntary poverty is defined as voluntarily living below a normal standard of living to minister to a people group or an individual. It works many times alongside of the gift of missionary. Church history is full of stories of people who operated in this gift.
Could it be that some Christians see this gift in well-known missionaries and church leaders (past and present) and hear their powerful, inspirational testimonies; yet they make the mistake of thinking this is the standard for everyone rather than a special grace that is given to only some? Many times Christians who live in financial lack hold as their heroes of the faith some of these spiritual giants who had the gift of voluntary poverty, not realizing they themselves do not have the same grace. This could be the cause of some Christians not experiencing God’s abundance in the area of finances.
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1 C. Peter Wagner, Finding Your Spiritual Gifts, (Ventura, California: Gospel Light, 2005).