**This is a personal website and reflects my thoughts and convictions. It does not represent any official position held by Youth With A Mission.**
Is money an issue for you? Do you sometimes feel that life in YWAM is one long financial struggle? Do you sometimes feel that you would like to put the financial issue behind you and just get on with your ministry? I know how you feel.
But recently I have been studying God’s call on the tribe of Levi and I think we can learn a lot from them—in fact more than I can write in this brief article.
The mandate for Levites
I am convinced that YWAMers and many others who are called to full-time Christian ministry are a people living in the tradition of the Levites. They were a tribe that was set apart from all the others and they were called to:
- Serve the Lord without other distractions or obligations.
- Live a life of holiness.
- Understand God’s ways and teach them to all of God’s people.
- Joyfully accept that their inheritance was the Lord himself, not land and material wealth like the other tribes.
When Israel strayed from the ways of God, the Levites suffered because they were dependent on the tithes and giving of the other tribes. So their well-being was directly linked to the spiritual state of the nation. When Israel fell away from the Lord, the Levites suffered. When Israel was restored, the Levitical service was restored.
Linked to the health of the Church
You can draw the parallels with our calling to live by faith and our relationship to the wider Body of Christ. As they prosper, we prosper. We are not called to find other ways and means of finding the money or material things we need, we are called to pray and work towards the restoration of the Church and one of the fruits of that is their generosity. When the Church has vibrant spiritual life, then missionary work is also vibrant and growing.
I don’t mean to make this and exact equation: The Church Prospers=More Missionary Activity—or—The Church Declines= The Death of Missions. God is still our provider and he is able to provide even when the Church is in decline. A study of the Levites will show that God wanted them to be doing their ministry regardless of what the others were doing. He was also faithful to them when others were faithless. Take Jeremiah 33 as an illustration. In verse 22 God says:
“I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”
Jesus, a Levite of the heart
When we come to the New Testament, Jesus was the fulfillment of all of the ways of God as illustrated in the Old Testament. So, Jesus and his disciples were “Levites of the heart”. They weren’t born into the tribe of Levi, but they set their lives aside to serve God, giving up other normal pursuits, trusting God for their provision (and receiving it via those to whom they ministered), and joyfully accepting the Lord as their inheritance.
“Our calling is both a sacrifice and a great privilege.”
My point is this: Our calling is both a sacrifice and a great privilege. Only a small minority of believers are called to this life of “living by faith” and it is sometimes a struggle. We will have times where we don’t know where the next meal will come from and sometimes, like the Apostle Paul, YWAMers can be led to temporarily earn a living. But this life of faith is more than worth it! The Lord is our inheritance.
So, serve Him joyfully and without distractions, whether you have much or little. The life of the New Testament Levite is described by Jesus in Matthew 6:33
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Only a small minority of believers are called to this life of “living by faith”.
You kidding? Last time I checked all Christians are called to live by faith in Gid alone.
Also, the Levites were not allowed to own any possessions, I expect that means all YWAM’ers and bases are to give up their property and bank accounts, etc.
This theology is one of the resons BAM/BWAM will never work within YWAM. Once a BAM business becomes self sustainable, there is no need for faith…?
To many people have seen this with their own eyes.
To many people confuse “faith” with “sending a letter to people to give me money”, and “trusting God” means “trust the support model”.
This theology is one of the reason there are so many hurt ex-YWAM’ers out there.
Hmm. Sounds like you are pretty upset about a few issues, John. If so, my replies are not likely to help, but I will give it a try:
You are completely right that everyone is called to live by faith, but the history of the past two hundreds years or so has given that phrase a particular application to one approach to Christian work. It is not a great phrase for describing what I mean, but it is the one we have. As the article says, I suggest that is related to the calling of Levites in the OT.
Sorry to contradict you, but the Levites did have land and housing areas allocated to them. It was not as extensive as the holdings allotted to the other tribes because they also had the tithes of the other tribes.
If you listen to the stories of how YWAM teams/communities were able to acquire properties to live in and to train others, you will be listening to miracle after miracle. I know, because I have participated in quite a few and live in one now that was practically impossible, but God made a way. If we were not to have any places to live and train, then God could have easily seen to it that we had to quit our calling and live just like everyone else.
Again, sorry to contradict you, but I know many YWAM people who have engaged in successful business. This is especially true where a business is required for access to a country or for reaching a particular people group.
Yes, where “living by faith” is reduced to various fund-raising techniques, it degrades the whole idea of being called of God. When we communicate well with people who want to stay connected with us, it can be one of the ways God uses to provide. Personally, my wife and I have not used that means of fund-raising, but we have seen God’s provision over the years.
I guess you must be one of those “hurt YWAMers out there”. But, I doubt that it is directly related to the issues in this article. If you want to address the specific issues, just say so and we can connect privately and I might be able to help.
Thank you for this! Been in Ywam 14 years and this is very helpful & clarifying to many fund raising questions I’ve struggled with over the years.