Lizzy and Billy were preparing to go to Afghanistan as missionaries. Their home church of 100 people in South Carolina loved them very much and were excited to send one of their own, even though they were only able to support them with $50 a month.
Even while being grateful for their church's backing, Lizzy and Billy knew this fell short of how much financial support they would need to survive and thrive in Afghanistan, to share Christ in that difficult context. They decided to seek God’s wisdom on how to move forward.
After praying, they called us with a bold plan: put off further efforts to raise the additional thousands of dollars needed per month and focus instead on coordinating an Encountering the World of Islam (EWI) class at their church. We were quite surprised but jumped in to help them prepare for a class that next Spring.
Capitalizing on how much their church loved them, Lizzy and Billy held nothing back and personally invited, challenged, and recruited their own pastor, several elders, and a quarter of their church’s members to attend the class. They also enlisted another 20 people from several other churches in the area.
Because Lizzy and Billy postponed their immediate plan of raising funds for Afghanistan, they saw 40+ people from that community mobilized to share their heart for Muslims in a post-9/11 world. Further, the class led to several other surprising results: The pastor and several elders went to visit Afghanistan with Billy. Another couple from the class also felt called to Afghanistan and joined Lizzy and Billy’s team. The church reevaluated their support commitment and found a way to increase it tenfold to $500 a month. In addition, a number of the EWI students, both from their church and the others represented in the class, began to financially support Lizzy and Billy.
Lizzy and Billy’s story continues to give me goosebumps. It calls to mind the example of missionary leaders during the Student Volunteer Movement of the 1880s to 1920s who invested a season to mobilize others before going themselves. Both the student volunteers and Lizzy and Billy are personal encouragement to me as I mobilize through leading EWI, now in six languages and 25 countries.