Tentmakers…..1 Thessalonians 2:9
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
When the Lord first began to ‘rock our world’ and move us out of what had been our normal life as Christians commited to living it all out for Jesus, we had no idea what He had in store for us. The only thing that we did know was that we had a burning deep within for something more in our walk with Him and an agitation that was moving us toward something that we couldn’t yet identify.
Upon arriving in Costa Rica as self-supported followers of Jesus Christ embarking on a new adventure, the plan began to unfold as God introduced us to our new ‘normal’. He had been preparing the way for us before we even knew that our lives would be changing; maneuvering us to the place He had for us, placing people in our lives, ordering our steps and providing for us in a whole new way. It was scary in an intriguing sort of way as we learned to follow Him differently day by day for every little thing because every little thing was new. From the culture to the language to the location and customs, every day became (and still is) an adventure!
It was at that point that we began to understand even better what the references to Paul being a tent-maker in scripture were really all about. Our careers and familiar ways of providing for ourselves were being stripped and challenged with opportunities that were never part of our ‘wheelhouse’, but were becoming clear as our new way of living and having Him meet our needs while ministering to and meeting the needs of others was unfolding. Being independent in our ministry work here, we began to understand that God had moved us out to teach us what it really meant to rely on Him for absolutely everything. We were no longer in charge of our surroundings, our understanding, and our ability to make things happen and provide for ourselves in the way that had been so familiar to us in the past. The Lord was opening doors for us to labor in ways that were so foreign to us that we realized we were just crazy enough to be willing to follow whatever way He led and were trusting Him to make a way for us no matter what it looked like!
It was a freeing moment when we realized that we were not laboring to only meet our needs but to benefit those that the Lord had surrounded us with. Knowing that it wasn’t just all about us but it extended even further to those around us in need far greater than what we had ever personally experienced made it that much easier to trust Him. He had placed us in this place at this time for the purpose of sharing the gospel both in word and deed to others who were in desperate need of things physically and spiritually. When you separating labor and ministry you miss out on the big picture! In our efforts to support ourselves and the new way God was leading us to live our lives, we realized that everything that we do is not solely to focus on ourselves and our basic needs, but also to provide for the needs of those around us. Relentless Ministries grew out of our desire to allow all aspects of our life was to be a seamless witness of the gospel of Christ.
Although we have many forms of service, including discipleship and teaching dance to bring it to the forefront as a form of worship, making “tents” for us also includes planting crops, giving food and basic necessities, caring for the sick, widow, and orphan, teaching English, farming, and wellness, growing coffee with the extension of that being Coffee That Counts, and training in construction trade through our Work Discipleship Program. God has now brought us full circle in our ‘training’, although we know it will never end (and that’s all good with us!) He has been training us in so many new areas, yet is now beginning to show us how our gifts, talents, previous careers and experiences can be used and combined with all of the the ‘new’. Our years of prior work as business owners, teachers, and general contractors for our own investments have proven to be the initial training ground for all that God has laid and continues to lay before us. As we move forward, we continually strive to maintain a heart with the intention of creating disciples and sending them out as future ‘tentmakers’ no matter what the assignment is.
Whatever the Lord places before us, we are committed to going that direction. We will commit to doing that work and learning new things all while remaining diligent to love the Lord our God, walk in all His ways, keep his commandments, cleave unto him and serve him with all our hearts and soul (Josh. 22:5).
Consider Paul’s words in Acts 20:33-35:
I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:33-35, KJV)