When my family and I arrived in Germany after our 2002 furlough, we could purchase one euro for one dollar. The exchange had been slowly worsening, with the slide becoming more rapid in 2007. With $3,000 in August 2002 we could purchase 3,000 euros. In November 2007, that same $3,000 purchased just a little over 2,000 euros.
Our rent was not raised during that time, but the effect of the exchange rate meant the rent went up from $725 to $1,075. A gallon of milk in 2002 cost $2.20; now it’s $3.90. And we love American gas prices! We’re paying $8.30 a gallon for unleaded—and that’s gone down from about a month ago.
When the mission board recalculated our finances in the fall of 2007, we were $1,500 short of what we needed to stay here. We had drained our financial savings over the last years, and we had ended the previous six months in the red. It looked like the only solution was to return to the U.S. to raise more support.
In October we informed our church and our co-workers of our situation. I preached from Exodus on the crossing of the Red Sea. God had led His people to an impossible situation: soldiers on one side and the Red Sea on the other. God’s answer? Moses was to lift up his staff, and God would deal with the problem. And God performed a miracle!
I traveled to the U.S. for a month of reporting to churches and speaking in Bible colleges and seminaries. I spoke with many of our supporting pastors; and the pastor of our sending church, Slater Baptist (Slater, Iowa), sent a letter to our supporters. Our weekly e-mail update kept thousands of prayer warriors informed and on their knees.
As a family, we were ready to go or ready to stay. We had set a deadline of March 1, 2008, for determining our plans. If the needed support were committed by then, we would stay; if not, we would recognize that God had other plans for us, and we would start making plans for moving back to Iowa. You can imagine the questions that were going through our minds about housing, transportation, and school if we were to move. And how would we get our ministries finished here and everything packed up and stored by August?
Some increases in support had been coming in from churches and individuals. Special gifts came to rebuild our reserves. But it still looked as if we would be leaving Germany in August 2008. We had plane tickets on hold and were working to get rid of our ministry responsibilities here. In our January 27 update, we asked our prayer partners to pray that the Lord would make His will clear to us in the following week. We felt that we needed to know whether we would stay here or start making concrete plans for returning to Iowa. That update said we needed $1,200 more monthly support. By Friday afternoon, that $1,200 was reduced to $0! Amazing! What a week of answered prayer!
Since the first of January, a new supporting church, three new families, plus seven churches and two families that increased support, and an adjustment in the amount of government subsidy that we are receiving added up to meet the need! It was exciting to keep the family posted through the week as the changes kept coming in. When the last amount came in we shouted, “Yeah!”
God parted the Red Sea for us, and we’re looking forward to the next miracle!