When I told those around us what the plans were over a year ago (ie, say goodbye to our careers, convert from a self-centered life), this was probably the most difficult question to answer: How do you think you can get by?
I’ve been reading for years books about people That similar steps to have set – and I clearly saw a common thread in all those stories. Namely, that God always provides solutions. Left or right, so that there is enough to eat, (unexpected) bills can be paid, the rent can be paid, etc.
Jesus says something about this:
Do not worry about yourself and what you will eat or drink, nor about your body and what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor fill granaries, it is your heavenly Father who feeds them. Are you not worth more than them? Who among you can add even one cubit to his life by worrying? And what are you worried about clothes? Look at the lilies, watch them grow in the field. They do not work and do not weave. I tell you, even Solomon in all his splendor was not clothed like one of them. If God clothes the greenery that is today in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven with so much care, how much more care will he not clothe you, O you of little faith? So don’t worry, “What shall we eat?” or, “What shall we drink?” or, “What shall we dress with?” – these are all things that the heathen pursue. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need all of that. Rather seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you . So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough of its own burden. (Mat 6 )
As the words of Jesus began to come alive for me, seeing the sick healed through prayer, I thought, What else did Jesus say? If this part is real and works in my own life, then the rest must work too!
The strange thing is, of course, that I’ve always believed in Jesus, only I just didn’t realize that I was meant to be a ‘disciple’ and not just a ‘Christian’ or ‘Christian’. That’s quite a difference. Because being a disciple means that Jesus to me when he speaks to his disciples. I know some disagree with this. But the Bible is crystal clear. It remains special how we read the Bible! The text below, which Jesus spoke to his twelve disciples, is very familiar to many people, but note the section that is crossed out!
“ Go and make disciples of all nations. ” – very famous! Also known as the ‘Great Commission’.
“ I am with you every day, until the end of the world ” – familiar text! Is commonly used.
But what exactly is that which must be told to all nations? Among other things, that they must adhere to all that Jesus commanded these twelve ! It also has a term: it began when Jesus spoke these words and continues until the end of the world! This is still current.
So based on statements of Jesus, but also through the testimonies of others, we decided to take this step. This was what went through my mind at the time: we did not experience any special ‘calling’ to step into this life. No dream, no prophecy, or anything like that. It was especially these words of Jesus that convinced me that it must also work for us. In fact, if it didn’t work, I might as well stop doing it… it must work! Because otherwise what Jesus says wouldn’t be true.
And then, a year ago, I also resolved: if this works for us, then it works for everyone! Because we base ourselves purely on the Bible and not on any special calling. The Bible shows that all believers are automatically called to proclaim the good news that Jesus came with to all the nations of the world!
We wanted to take steps, but our work and the time it took got in the way. So that had to be fixed! And from the Bible we understood that it must be possible to live in a way where we put the Kingdom first and then our Father would take care of the rest.
How did we do this in practice?
First of all, we put our finances in order as best we could. We didn’t want to disadvantage anyone and end up in debt as a result of our steps. Our house was ‘under water’. But we did have quite a lot of savings. We didn’t think it wise to ‘eat up’ the savings completely, because properly considered we don’t have that money at all, because our house is worth less than the amount of our mortgage. That’s why we first used a large part of our savings to get the mortgage down so that the value of the house matched the mortgage debt. We were left with something like 8,000 euros in savings.
Then I quit my job and then went through another cutback. Unnecessary insurance policies cancelled, Cable TV and internet converted into cheaper ADSL (without TV) subscription. With Evelyn’s salary we would have about 200 euros a month left after the fixed costs were off.. not very much for a family with children, car, own house and cat! But along with the savings, we could hold out for a while. And I liked that idea, not completely into the deep end, but still some time to get used to this new way of life.
Still, I remember that in the first week after I was out of work, a panic overcame me. I saw a number of unforeseen debits from my bank account and I thought: the money goes through very quickly like this! What have I started!? Fortunately, that didn’t last more than a day. I decided to pray and trust God and the feeling of complete calm and carelessness about all these things soon returned. That feeling has remained all along. We’ve never had a sleepless night over finances.
We have always given a fair share of our income to charities and have started to give more and more over the years. We kept about 10%. In 2014 we gave away just under 400 euros a month. I have stopped all of this except sponsoring our 4 children from Compassion . These are children who depend on our support and we did not think that they should be the victims of our company. It was about 120 euros per month. Furthermore, I thought it would be nice to be able to say that you can sponsor 4 children without an income 🙂 As an encouragement for people with a fixed income who think it is sponsor of 1 child would be too expensive ;-)!
After about 4 months, our savings account had already shrunk considerably. At some point, Evelyn also decided to quit her job. That became possible because someone was going to rent our house so that we could go to Denmark. But two weeks before our departure, the prospective tenant came by and told us the lease could not go through! That was a disappointment for us, because at that time we no longer had any income and still had to pay 1200 euros in housing costs every month. The whole company was suddenly in jeopardy and a financial drama hung over our heads. We decided to pray and that tremendous calm and carefreeness came over us again. Somehow we just knew that the prospective tenant was going to rent the house anyway – we said to each other, ‘He’s going to get back to it!’. Indeed, he called 2 days later with the announcement that he still wanted to rent. So that turned out all right!
In Denmark we rented a space in the Jesus Hotel for 400 euros per month. We also received no income. You may wonder why we worked for nothing, but also pay rent? This is because Torben’s organization is not rich. There is no piggy bank, so everything that comes in usually goes out the same month. Still, rent has to be paid for the buildings and there are all kinds of expenses, so everyone contributes according to their ability. We even thought that was a nice idea, because we don’t want to be dependent on an organization but on God. We had also decided before we left not to tell anyone if we were in need of money or needed anything, but only to God.
In the meantime, we received spontaneous gifts from family and friends, which allowed us to live a normal life. We have been able to pay this rent every month.
Once we went from Denmark to the Netherlands for a short visit, our savings were long gone. At that time we had just got a house , which we had moved to in the meantime, but we had no idea how to hang curtains on the windows, for example. We had just enough money for fuel to get back to Denmark. But we had only just returned to Denmark and we received some gifts from an unexpected source. An unknown person gave us a few hundred euros. Someone from Norway we have never met contacted me and asked for my bank account number. He deposited a large amount into our account. Enough came in to buy all the necessary things for the house and to buy food.
And so it went on and on. Every time the money runs out, something comes in. And always in different ways! Sometimes in the form of food, or stuff. Sometimes cash, sometimes a deposit into our account.
At one point we even moved back to our home in the Netherlands. We had long since given up that house as ‘too expensive’ for this lifestyle. But once I (Robbert) was praying and said: ‘We want to go back to the Netherlands, but where can we live? Show us a suitable house. Or should we go back to our own home? And then sell them.. or…?’ and I noticed that God said, ‘Worry about the important things, the Kingdom of God. I’ll take care of those little things‘.
Small things! To God, these are the little things! We then moved back to our ‘too expensive’ home in Emmen and we have been living there for over 2 years now and God continues to provide in different ways.
Our conclusion is that it went exactly as expected – ‘by the book’. As Jesus said it would, in the Bible.
Is this life for everyone?
No, not for everyone. It’s only for Christians :). People who claim to follow Jesus. That cannot be otherwise, because these are promises that the Lord gave. So it has to be right. The interpretation will be different for everyone – it does make a difference whether you are young or old, have children, are married or divorced, are extremely rich or have debts.
There is also no guarantee that everything will go very smoothly and comfortably. Paul also writes about this in his letters. It is not always easy for us either and I have shed more tears in that early period of this new path than ever before in my life. Because life has changed a lot. Yet I feel richer than ever! Everything is possible in this life.. it is spicy and beautiful at the same time! The best thing is to see others get rich! When they find Jesus.
I want to close with a text from a book that I read a while back, which appealed to me. It was before we stepped into this life.
As believers, we trust the words of Jesus when it comes to life after this life! Free from judgment, on the way to heaven. Then why not trust all statements about this life here?
Does this appeal to you? Then here’s some more on this topic:
- Risk is Right – John Piper (free ebook).
- Being the Good Ground – Torben Sondergaard (video)