Mission and Adversity
The following is a guest post from one of launch team members of The Bridge Church, Tim Banta. Tim and his wife, Amber, along with several of our team members are going through a tough season of adversity, and I believe it’s a direct result of their participation with our church plant. This is no surprise. The advancement of the gospel is always accompanied by adversity.
Most people who identify as Christians are familiar with Christ’s words in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And they may be familiar with the well-known verses on suffering for Christ’s sake written in 1 Peter 4:12-19. We as Christians have to accept the reality that suffering, persecution, and adversity are going to be a part of life in following Jesus. This principle is not only applicable to missionaries on the other side of the world, but also to those of us who are preparing to go on mission here in the United States, in Wilmington, NC.
Until recently, I didn’t really know what it meant to “take up your cross” or to “suffer for Christ’s sake.” These principles seemed distant and foreign. However, as my wife and I would soon find out, all of Jesus’ promises are for us - even the promises we like to think of as unpleasant. The simple fact is that God is divine, His ways are unsearchable, and He uses persecution and suffering to point others to Christ.
Last November, my wife and I found ourselves in an odd predicament. Our lives were pretty stable. I had been working for the same company for fifteen years and from a professional standpoint, the sky was the limit. However, we felt that God was clearly calling us to join the Wilmington church plant. To the world this decision was folly, but we were confident this was part of God’s plan for our lives.
I informed my company that we were planning on moving to Wilmington to be a part of a church plant. Although the news was not accepted with much enthusiasm, there was hope that my company could support the move. Unfortunately, that hope was dashed about four weeks ago. This past January, the company in which I had invested nearly half my life laid me off.
After I got laid off, I prayed God would give me humility and the opportunity to boldly share the gospel with my now ex-coworkers. Through God’s grace, before I left I was able to sit down with at least four individuals and explain to them that our hope was in Christ, and through Jesus we have been saved. I explained that suffering, whether physical or financial, is all part of God’s plan.
Since January, we have seen God work in amazing ways. We have seen financial provisions stretch unnaturally, we have seen God’s people provide much-needed support, we have seen professional contacts made in the Wilmington area that would otherwise not have been possible, and most importantly, our faith in Christ has been greatly strengthened.
Although we don’t have all the answers as to why we’re going through this financial struggle, we are confident in this: Jesus Christ has saved us from our sins and He has commanded us to spread His gospel throughout this world. We now know that the cost of following Jesus is great - but the cost of not following Jesus is even greater.
To find out more information about joining our launch team, go here.