Steps of Faith

by | May 24, 2018

Catie and Tim in front of Salt and Light School in Labelle Mare – 2007

In the second half of the eleventh century BC, the perfect storm was building in the valley Shephelah. At the time, the land was controlled by the fledgling kingdom of Israel, but a new army, the Philistines, decided to capture the mountain ridge near Bethlehem and split King Saul’s kingdom in two. The Philistines from Crete were battle-tested and dangerous seafaring people, who decided to set up camp along the Southern ridge of Elah. The Israelites pitched their tents on the opposite Northern ridge, leaving the two armies looking at one another across the ravine. Both knew attacking the other was suicide as descending the hill and then back up surely meant death. Finally, the Philistines had had enough, and they sent their best warrior down into the valley, defiantly screaming for the Israelites to send down their best man to resolve the stalemate. It would be a winner-takes-all battle, with the loser’s army and people group becoming slaves to the winner. No one moved from the Israelite camp, until a shepherd boy, who had come from Bethlehem to bring food to his brothers, stepped forward. The giant’s name was Goliath. The shepherd boy’s name was David. Soon, the six-foot-nine giant, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armor, lay dead at the hands of a small, armor-less young man, holding a slingshot and small stones.

This is a favorite story of many people: the underdog David slays the giant Goliath. But, what stirred in David for him to step forward, believing he could slay a giant? How was he able to step forward when highly trained and stronger soldiers were left petrified, shaking in their boots? Saul argued there must be someone better, for David was just a lad and Goliath was a man of war. But, David argued with Saul, stating he had faced more ferocious foes than this. “When the lion or the bear would come and carry off a sheep from the herd,” he told Saul, “I would go after him and strike him down and rescue it from his clutches.” These smaller, seemingly insignificant battles strengthened David’s legs to walk in faith to challenge and defeat Goliath. Such it is with Many Hands.

“Then, something incredible happened. God showed up…

In 2004, Third Reformed Church in Pella, IA, gave a reverse offering to everyone in attendance. Typically, when one attends church, an offering plate goes around and those in attendance put money IN the plate. This day was different– everyone in attendance took offering OUT of the plate, to the tune of $25 per person. We were then given specific instructions: use the $25 however you wish to go and grow the Kingdom. All the church wanted in return was for us to report back in six weeks how we used the money for Kingdom work.

On that day, my wife, mom, dad, and I all received $25 and at lunch after church, we decided to pool our money, write letters to our contacts, and ask them to match our $25 to build a new Haitian school. At that time, a school cost roughly $10,000 to $12,000 to build, so starting with $100 and getting to $12,000 by increments of $25 seemed pretty audacious. As well, we decided to not ask anyone in Pella, as we didn’t want to tap into anyone who had received $25 at church.

We prayed, we compiled our lists, we wrote our letters, and we sent them out. Then, something incredible happened. God showed up, and money started pouring in. People caught the vision and joined us to make this dream possible. By the end of the six weeks, we had raised more than $15,000. We were all blown away with God’s amazing provisions, as He took our poor offering of $100 and He multiplied it beyond our belief. We built the school and it opened in 2008.

This experience proved to be pivotal in my faith journey many, many times. When people look at our organization now, they see the current outcomes. Much like David and Goliath, they focus on the large impact and are amazed at the faith needed to move forward in that capacity. But, it didn’t start there. Anyone who has done great things for the Kingdom started by taking small steps of faith. Then God met them in their first step of faith. Then they take a little bigger step of faith. And God meets them again. This gets repeated time and time again, until a major faith jump happens, one people notice. All the people see is the last jump, but they have no idea the small faith steps preceding the big event. God is in the business of developing our faith muscle, but it requires us to take steps, even if small, so He can strengthen our faith legs. When the bear and the lion grabbed one of the sheep, David could have shaken his head and said, “There goes another one. Nothing I can do.” If this would have been his response, there is no David and Goliath story. The reverse offering at church was my first experience of completely relying on God for an outcome and watching Him come through to something greater than I could have imagined. If there is no reverse offering, I do not have the faith to later leap into full-time ministry with Many Hands.

Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of a loving God, who gives us opportunities to strengthen our faith legs to walk with Him, until we are ready to run with Jesus into the unknown. We praise Him for opportunities to test our faith, such as reverse offerings and slaying bears and lions. Without these tests, we can’t understand and approve God’s good and perfect will for our lives. May we all take steps of faith, no matter how small they may seem at the time, for we are training for a great race with God, in this life and the next.

I’m With You

I’m With You

Many Hands stands on the shoulders of Tim and Lucia Van Maanen, whose sacrificial “I’m with you” spirit forever set our organization on God’s path.

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