Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age— houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life." Mark 10:29-30
This promise makes me (Lisa) wince a little. Like fundraising, it carries an element of vulnerability. Rich has been convinced from the start that a key part of our financial model for our missional year should be that our offer wherever we go is this: “We’ll get ourselves to your city. You house us while we’re there to the extent you are able, ideally in homes--and feed us while we’re teaching.” For many nights we’ll be at retreat centers anyway, but on the edges we’ve asked our hosts to arrange housing, letting them know we’d prefer a pull-out couch in their living room to a nice hotel. There is a certain genius to that. It turns out, plenty of planning time has been required to acquire visas, arrange air or land travel, and create various seminar materials in time for them to be translated. On this end it’s been harder than we anticipated getting our house, mail, dog, etc. squared away.
Not having to worry about housing is a huge help, and not having to pay for it keeps our budget relatively low. But it does mean we’ll be ‘imposing,’ sometimes on people whose homes are fairly cramped already. No doubt it will mean stepping on some toes on occasion when we take an American-ly long shower or inadvertently offend in some other way. But our hope is that it will mean late-night talks and laughter over meals that wouldn’t happen if we tucked ourselves back into a hotel at the end of a day of teaching. So, I’m trying to wince less and trust more. This journey will stretch us in every way, but if Jesus is right here, it will make us immeasurably wealthier people in the kingdom real estate department, which I suspect has more to do with friendships, hospitality given and received, and seeing God provide, than actual acreage. So here’s to the One Hundred Homes Journey—we’re glad to be able to share part of it with you via this blog, and so grateful for your prayers!
Lisa and I have been seeking God's will, sensing some kind of change was coming when both of our kids left the house but not at all sure what God had planned. Several churches were interested in exploring whether Lisa would become their pastor, but things never seemed to line up, on one side or the other. A search firm asked me to apply for an executive position at a mission organization, but ultimately the search went in a different direction. A firm focused on land-rights issues for poor farmers in Africa brought me in to do some consulting with hopes for a full-time position emerging, but then funds dried up and plans changed. Each of these processes went on over months and offered hope that a change would come with the clarity of an attractive, ready-made offer complete with a salary sufficient to make a change to our current circumstances.
Paul presents a simple-but-not-easy process for knowing the will of God in Romans 12:1-2. It involves placing our lives on the altar as a living sacrifice, refusing conformity to the world's way of thinking, and embracing a new way of thinking. The early Israelites were asked to sacrifice their best bull on the altar. That bull represented hope for the future, because though though they didn't understand the structure of DNA they did understand the rudiments of genetics--healthy parents produce healthy offspring. The best bull represented the best breeding stock--but that is precisely why God wanted it for himself. As he himself says in Psalm 50, he doesn't eat the flesh of bulls, but he wanted his people to trust in him and not in their best bulls.
For us, we came to understand that offering our best bull meant first of all being open to quitting jobs before new clarity came. We have both given notice that as of the end of June, we are severing our employment arrangements. When, in 14 months, our travels are over and we are preparing to move back into our house in San Gabriel, we have no guarantees about the source of our income to pay our mortgage and expenses. (Indeed, we have no guarantees that in 14 months we will be back in San Gabriel. We are literally open to being anywhere in the world.)
Since we have made that decision, many small things have confirmed God's leading, from my boss's willingness to keep me on (at 90% furlough, but I will work a few hours each month on tasks that I can do remotely), to provision for our dog, to very encouraging fundraising progress and support from unexpected quarters. We still don't know what the future holds, but we know that we know that we know we are right where God wants us today.
Rich and Lisa Lamb