Posted by Mark Labuschagne on Tuesday, February 12, 2013
I write this note today hoping to address what I consider an important question and one I hope you will be able to answer. Before I do so, I would like to share a little of my background with you.
I have been in ministry for over 30 years, of which 25 years have been full-time. I knew that the Lord had called me at an early age to be in His service and 33 years ago, He spoke clearly to me about whom I was and the road I would have to follow and to be quite honest, I remember that day as if it was yesterday. Most of what Jesus told me back then has already come to pass and even though it was a difficult path to follow, one with many setbacks, trials and tribulation, I truly believe because of my love for our Savior, I would do it all over again.
Although the Lord told me that I was called as a Prophet back in the early 80's, it took some 13 years before the word the Lord spoke into my heart was I officially recognized (Ordained, with the laying on of hands) as a prophet. For the next 18 years I traveled across the globe ministering the word God placed on my heart to people from 58 different nations.
In 1992 Andi and I pastored our first and last congregation and it was clear this was part of the training we had to go through until the Lord Himself promoted us. It was during this time and before I was ordained as such that the Lord again confirmed His word and this time through Andi (My Wife) saying that I was a Watchman and a Shepherd (Ez 33:1-20).
When the Lord released us from the congregation we were pastoring, He supernaturally opened doors for us to come to Cape Town and it is from this place, 9 months after we arrived that the Holy Spirit launched us by confirming to us through a dream that the bow was released and the arrow was fired in many different directions, as a symbol we were sent and released to go.
As we traveled, we soon learned hard lessons along the way. God was dealing with my own heart correcting things that needed correction and guiding us by His precious Holy Spirit into areas I never thought I would see. These experiences will hopefully one day be written in my memoirs. The things we had to endure caused us much heart ache and even though some of these were self inflicted, we had to come to the place of completely trusting the Lord, for and in everything.
One of the greatest challenges we had was trying to balance the check book (Cheque), finances. I never asked to be an itinerant preacher. I never asked to travel in the way we continue to do, and it was the most difficult thing to endure. I can remember people ask, “Please tell us what you need so that we can bless you” and others would say, “We must not talk about money because we will give as the Lord leads to give”. In the end, and either way, although we never tried to make the ministry about money we soon learnt and experienced what talking about it "Money" really meant and how it influenced, in many instances negative reactions from those we were ministering to. We lost a whole bunch of Christian friends because of it to.
We tried to garner support by trying to set up a partner program, this never worked. We tried asking people to support us; this only caused us to have more enemies than we really needed. And so in the end, we started a small business to help us get through the day. Ministry caused us to lose our homes, cars and a whole lot more than we anticipated, but it also brought us so much joy as we learnt what Jesus meant when He told us all those years ago that He would teach us to live by faith.
This brings me to the point I am trying to make and the question I would love answered. Today, we receive funds from two precious ministry partners, people who were never asked to support us or our ministry and they have faithfully done so for the last three years, but this income is less than 1000 dollars (ZAR5600) per month. And this is the extent of our financial support after all these years in ministry. The question I wish to pose is this, if the local Pastor is entitled to ask his congregation to pay their tithes and offerings to the local church, why are we not entitled to ask you the Body of Christ to support us in the same way. Why do itinerant preachers have to struggle the way they do and almost “beg” for financial support? Paul traveled and worked, which we have had to do to ensure that we are not a burden to anyone, but as he did, we too can testify of the struggles of not having.
I have faced every possible scenario that you can think of when it comes to living the way we do. I have seen and continue to see God move in such a powerful way in our lives and thank Him for the faithful friends we do have from around the world who love us. Nevertheless, this remains one topic that does not seem to have an answer, well, that is as far as we are concerned.
The reason I have asked this question is simple because of the many friends I have who are serious up and coming ministers who are in the same position. The Pastor seems to get all the comforts of ministry because he has a people following him Sunday after Sunday, but the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist and Teachers who travel do not have this luxury. Surely, the laborer is worth something to the entire Body of Christ?
Today, I ask you to seek out and support those five-fold ministers around you that you know have been called of God to travel and together reach out with them and touch the world. Give to those who labor beyond where many pastors are willing to go. Sow finances further afield, give with an open heart so that the Good News you and I have received can multiply and reach the lost, the poor and the needy.
Finally, we ought to stop allowing ourselves to get offended when we speak about money. Friend, it is our obedience that helps our MONEY reach the lives of those who are yet to come into the Kingdom of God and remember, together we can make it possible for those who travel to GO!