1994: Do Not Worry About Your Finances. Live on $20 a Week

Whilst studying in Canada as an engineering student, my budget was simply $20 a week. The $20 went towards buying groceries – ie: milk, meat, vegetables, the basic stuff that I needed to live on. In summer of 1994, I volunteered to join a missions trip with the Montreal Chinese Pentecostal Church. That missions trip was to take place in August, a month long road trip across a massive 12,000km from Montreal to Vancouver Island return.

Now, I had taken up employment at IPD in June & July. In the meantime, I had applied for a work permit for the job. The challenge of not having a work permit was I was not certain if I would get paid as I was not on their payroll yet. To make matters *slightly* more exciting, I needed to raise about CAD $1000 in order to go for the missions trip.

I learnt about God’s supernatural provision that summer. The would be times in the month that I would need a certain amount of $ in order to pay for my rent, or my utilities, my phone bill, etc. Honestly, I had no idea how would I be able to pay for my obligations. I was unable to ask my parents for $, or seek help from my church friends out of embarrassment. It was a very stressful summer for me because I wanted to be in control of my finances. With hindsight, God wanted to teach me an important lesson about trusting Him.

Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Every Friday after work at IPD, something amazing would just happen. The VP of IPD would beckon me to come to his office. He would reach out and hand me $20 cash. No more, no less. That would last me exactly a week. When I needed to pay my rent, or my utility bill, the VP would then give me the exact amount of $ to pay for that obligation plus $20. No more, no less. In my heart, I knew that God had told him exactly how much he should pay me for that week.

I’m a kind of guy that wants to be control of my finances. I prayed to God many times, “Please give me more than $20”. It would reduce my stress levels because I would have some ‘savings’. But, nope it never happened. For the two months in the summer of 1994, I experienced God’s provision of $20 per week.

There were two occasions where I needed to raise a certain amount of deposit $ for the missions trip. The missions trip was made up of students and the pastor’s family. The deposit $ was needed in order to pay for room bookings, car rentals, etc. I recall the deposit $ amounted to a few hundred $. So, when the time came for me to pony up the monies to the missions team, the exact amount of $ needed would be provided for. I kid you not, the VP of my workplace would call me into his office that particular Friday. As I walked in, trembling because I had no idea how much he would give, he would smile at me and hand me the exact amount of $ needed for the missions trip deposit plus $20. It happened not just once, but twice. On two occasions, I needed to raise an exact amount of deposit $, and God would provide because He would have told the VP of the company to give me the exact amount of cash! (Please note that the VP of the company was a non-believer of God, so I’m not sure how he knew how much to pay me, but he did – every week)

When the time came when we finally started the missions trip in August, I was miraculously able to pay off my rent for that month, all my utility bills, and have $60 of pocket money to last the entire month! The missions team had to pay for our own food as we travelled across Canada. You and I know that $60 certainly isn’t enough to buy food and last an entire month.

So, I frugally spent the $60 during the 1st week on the road. Eating out isn’t exactly cheap. It came to a point in time after a few days on the road that I prayed to God, “Well God, my $ is running out. In the next 48 hours, I will run out of cash and not have $ to buy any food”. If you were to ask me, “Did I *feel* I had a lot of faith back then?” Well, I don’t recall *feeling* I had  faith, but what I did was to pray and describe the problem to God. Guess what God did? On that very same evening, the pastor’s wife, Linda walks up to me and hands me $60 cash! She said to me, “I don’t know why but I felt that I should give you this $”. I was totally totally shocked (but happy). I had told absolutely no one in the team I was running out of cash. I quickly and excitedly told her that my prayers were answered because I was running out of cash. I went away overjoyed. Thank God for a sensitive pastor’s wife!!

The missions trip went well, and we ministered to many churches across beautiful Canada. At the end of the road trip, I actually got back to Montreal richer than I left the city. Love offerings from kind and generous Christians and churches we visited throughout the trip allowed the team members to have some extra cash. I came back to Montreal with $120 compared with only $60 when I started!

Another miracle also took place when I got back to Montreal. I received a letter back from the Canadian government and a refund cheque. As I tore open that letter, I was utterly amazed that I got a work permit for IPD. It was a miracle because work permits were given to international students who obtained a job after graduating from university. I still had one semester of studies left. The work permit said, “Job required for course graduation”. Against all logic and odds, I had a work permit (and I didn’t pay a single cent for the application fee). I got back the entire application fee in a refund cheque. As I showed my friends, they simply shook their heads and marvelled at the ‘miracle’ provision.

In summary, I learnt that God provides. Are you concerned about your future? Or whether God would provides? Let me say this that He does provide. He is a good, good God. The bible says in the book of Matthew chapter 6 below …

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


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