What We Have is What We Give
Sometimes we do not fully comprehend what impact we have on others around us by our actions. Here is a story about a dear friend and partner in ministry that through her obedience experienced some unexpected outcomes. She has been and continues to be a great encouragement to me and to Life International so during this season of Thanksgiving I decided to share this short story about her and her recent experience of paying taxes, seeing Jesus and being amazed.
She writes, “My heart was trembling when I was asking our accountant to calculate how much money it would take to declare the full amount of salaries and to pay the full amount of taxes. I do not know many people who would want to face that giant?
She was surprised I was asking and not just telling her to declare the minimum and the rest would go “into the envelope”. “The amount would be too much for us to pay”,”«nobody in our world is doing that”, “that’s a waste of God’s money”, “you cannot spend money given to a ministry on taxes when it is that high”, “this would not be a good stewardship” – I heard, spoken or unspoken, I felt every time I would talk about it to someone in our land. How would I be able to invite the local people to join the mission? Who would agree their donation be spend on paying our taxes when they do not even have their own paid in full?
67, 68%. $30 grand a year would add $20 on taxes. Modest, beyond slavery. Wow! Last year we had 2 from the region. Could we go for a goal of 16 this year?
Our first papers are signed; money is in the accountant’s hands. “Yesterday, when I was filling up those papers, my hands were shaking filling in those numbers – they are so big!” – said an accountant. – “When will we be paying the salaries?” – “Today” – “Do you mean you are not only planning to pay taxes in full, but also pay salaries timely?” – “Yes, that is how we are going to operate” – I gave her money for the salary. She started to cry. She did not expect that much. For many years she has already been working at different Christian ministries, but she was taken we were making a priority and commitment to do that.
Last week before I left for a short trip we met to pay taxes and salaries to make sure we fulfill it. We had a little talk about life’s challenges and victories. I said I was going for a visit to LIFE International HQ to work on strategic planning and “just to breath” to be able to continue to give life to others, to overcome the giants of our land, to continue to choose to embrace the cross, persevere in battle and overcome.
The accountant replied and said;
“Thank you so much for sticking to it, and for working with these guys, so that we here, in Ukraine, can see and be touched by something that is so unusual to us, something that we believe it exists somewhere because we read the Bible and heard about it, but would not even hoped that it would actually become part of our lives. I cannot even imagine the level of light and life out there, just thinking of what I have experienced through your life – of what I know has come here because you had received it from them and learnt from them through persevering through the years, and brought us here, by living your life among us.”
It almost felt like a solemn moment – people in Ukraine usually do not say things like that. Everyone has the battle, everyone survives, and it is still like living on a front line. We’ve had our victories, but the war is not over yet. It was as if she was speaking was on the behalf of the whole land, as if the Lord Himself was saying “thank you, I am pleased”. It was a response of someone, who received life, felt honored, valued and appreciated on a deeper level than ever before. Something came into her life she did not expect – someone treating her with such honor and respect to think it was a priority to declare and pay her taxes and salary in fullness and timely.
God is at work even in the most difficult and oppressive economies of the world. He helps us do the right thing even if the right thing seems impossible and then He bless the entire experience with the unexpected. People are watching and we can take the opportunity and live our life in such a way that we honor the Lord in all that we do. When we live this way God will use us in ways that we never imagined.
At Life International we are thankful for our partners in the Eastern Europe Regional Office and for Larysa and her bold faith and leadership!