BRANCH is doing things completely opposite of what the world asks and to be honest, the body of Christ, believes how it should be done. I have been questioned, challenged, and basically told I’m doing it incorrectly in developing BRANCH: A New Beginning. I have been told I’m not a survivor, how can I understand the needs of those in trafficking and in not so direct language, that I am more of an annoyance than a help. Perhaps.
All I can tell people is that God has birthed this vision 35+ years ago. I cannot claim to understand why. Nor do I understand why I’m being asked to do this. But the one thing I know is that if you read my article in how BRANCH came about, you will know that my plate has been cleared for such a time as this. I would be a liar if I said things went smoothly all the time and this was the glory of the Lord every day. It hasn’t been. It starts by following the whisper in your heart. The one that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and goes against the grain of everything you know. The one thing that many people may not accept to well is the fact is God is not a genie for your desires and *POOF* dreams come true. To be honest, with many options of what I’m told…. God simply says no by not opening doors for me. No, is not a bad word in the least. It is one that I am coming to respect and be VERY grateful for. But more than anything, when I can sit back at the end of the day and say to God, I did it Your way….. those fruits always come forward.
But what do I mean by backwards logic? Well, let me give you some examples. I have plenty of them, and I am probably going to step on some toes. Sorry if you are feeling a little bit of conviction, but that is between you and God. I’m just going to share what backwards logic looks like in my life on a daily basis.
Probably one of the first was purchasing the house. I had people tell me to go get government grants, apply for funding, etc. My husband was a bit shocked and not really sure what to think. I had people ask me, why I was putting my money up front for this? Well it was simple, well in theory anyway. God whispered in my heart about the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Putting his son up on the altar. Then stories began surfacing in my life about how many times Jesus asked people to “Come”. Some followed Him, some did not. Was I prepared to do what was being asked of me, especially after 35 years? I didn’t want to let go of “my money”, but then reality set in. None of this is ours. We are stewards of what God has given us. So sacrifice time it was. I started the process of house hunting. I may seem very naive to a lot of people in how I approach things. To be honest, I got a lot of crazy looks. Eventually when I would not back down from my stance, people just looked at me and went, “Okay, we’ll see.” Isn’t that what it is about? Waiting, expecting, and seeing? BINGO, God again! Waiting with expectations and doing what we know we ought to. So the perfect house came up after searching and between my contractor, Frank and I…. I fell in love with the house and surprisingly I got it. Now if you think I was not scared to death, think again. Now I was responsible for more financial things… insurance, taxes, utilities, maintenance and we did not even get into restoring yet. Um, God….. but here we are. The exterior is almost completed, but through more backwards methods, God is bringing forth more fruit.
Then another backwards moment is the time with regards to our 501(c)3 status. In the beginning stages when I was talking to counsel about how to approach receiving donations and talking with other organizations, I was told that I could retro tax deductions for up to a year. But one question came to mind every time someone in “authority” told me to do this. All I simply asked was, “What if it takes over a year?” No one had answers for me. So it was about waiting and waiting, and waiting… well, you get the idea. Sixteen months later and we finally got a notice about clarifying a part in the application process. What would have happened if I took donations and retroacted things? First of all, it would be a burden of work on me being the sole person handling it and taking my time from more important matters. Let’s talk about the frustrations and hassles in having to work adjusted tax returns and answering to the IRS? Having no income, how was I going to pay for the tax person that would have to handle any IRS issues? If I couldn’t afford the tax person, I would have had to struggle all throughout the process. People and organizations kept telling me to retro the tax deductions and I stood firm against it. Gratefully, I waited. God provided an answer while we waited with ECCO Family Bookstore. They could offer the deductions while we awaited. God truly knew how to take care of business, but it still has not been time to receive funds. But it has been backwards logic, which of course leads into the recycling program. Does it make sense yet?
While the other was going on with the tax exemption debate with certain people, God whispered in my ear again about recycling. My father taught me this way of saving money. It is long, laborious, sometimes small change, but there is a discipline in doing this task. I cannot tell you how many times people say you don’t get your money back in doing all of this. Well a labor of love is just that. It costs. The money raised through recycling is not for me, it is for the victims that will be survivors coming through our doors. My time, my vehicle, my gas, is a sacrifice to raise the funds through recycling to get money for those girls. But do you know what is even greater? The opportunities that I get to share with people one on one. When I am out recycling, I get to build relationships with people. A time to pray for someone in need. A time to hear a story. A time to share how to build character or hear someone’s frustrations and lend encouragement. Sometimes its just to lend a smile and say, “Hey how are you today?” And I get to testify about what BRANCH is doing and help raise awareness in this area about human trafficking that many never hear of. I never would have been able to do that if I had not been recycling. So as I receive many funny looks, challenged about the validity of what is occurring, there is a greater purpose in all of that. It is backwards logic. But it is about seed sowing. That harvest time will come. While here on this earth or on the flip side, I know that harvest will come when it is truly time. So despite all the questioning I get and how pitiful I look in the eyes of many people…. I care about how I look to God.
Here comes the uncomfortable part in backwards logic. The church. We all have a part in the body of Christ. I am not one to deny that, nor judge. Some people are the fingers, toes, organs, cells, feet, or whatever. But the one thing that has truly baffled me is how the church has reacted in this whole affair. I’ve been stunned to say the least. I’m not sure where we got the message that we need this many confirmations or we need people’s approval to move forward, and perhaps it is because of getting burned one too many times. Who knows. But I have observed in spades, is a lack of commitment from the body of Christ that has been extremely painful. It actually pains me to say that. There are specific churches I will say we are dealing with that I am touched beyond the core at their love, but God has brought me backwards again through this arena as well. God is bringing me outside the church while I keep trying to crawl back inside of it. I was raised in it, that’s all I pretty much know. But each time, God puts me out in the wilderness. But its there in the wilderness where I find God to be incredibly awesome!!! I find that His provisions come from the most amazing places. The relationships and people I’m introduced to…. I would never meet if I crawled back into “comfortable”. The principles I have learned within the church walls are becoming the example in my daily routine of recycling believe it or not. It’s backwards logic.
I do not want to get on a soap opera box of flaws within the church, but I will say this…. we, who call ourselves Christians, need to start stepping up our game. People are not recognizing us. We are blending too much into secular beliefs. Our fruit is getting squeezed when the rubber meets the road and the world is turning back to what they know because the nutrition from the spirit of our fruit is not fulfilling and not quenching.
I discovered this in yet one other backwards experience. You have heard me talk or write about Frank, our contractor often. I’m not shy about how he has been the foundation of helping build BRANCH up. He is far from perfect and trust me I get that. I still believe he is an answer to prayer even while he is on the sidelines recouping. He has been an incredible force, but he struggles with some things in his life at this time that has just left him feeling defeated. Well, my husband and I have come alongside Frank and his family and done some things that yet again, I have truly gotten some flack for. It has cost me more than I was prepared to give up. I went knocking on the doors of other general contractors. I made the phone calls, follow-ups, and no one showed. God’s “no” was speaking yet again. I guess it goes back to that sacrifice on the altar again from the beginning with this house, but because those in his circle of friends, relatives, and even sub-contractors, have seen that when I am committed to he and his family and also to what is occurring with the BRANCH house, some of the most amazing things have been occurring. It has not been time for me to go to another contractor. It has been chosen to stick with where I am at and somehow do what I do best with where I am at.
But when I have looked back at the behavior of Christian contractors that we’ve had working in our own home, I have to say, I’m far from impressed. And I’ll be quite honest, I’m truly tired of the argument that is the nature of man we are sinners. Well I expect more from people who openly declare and announce they are Christian. I expect them to perform at a much higher level just for that reason. They have Christ in their life to do the seemingly impossible by the grace of God by not only action, but by words and lifestyle. I’m not expecting perfection, but I am expecting a better return on behavior. That is why the path that God has chosen for me is so different from most people’s path. I am in the wilderness. I am dealing with people who need to see Christ on a different playing field. It’s okay. It’s God’s rule of backwards logic. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ “
We have to start realizing that if you are being pushed to go with the flow, maybe it is time to step back and ask God what is going on? If it is common, God is far from typical. He is the one and only God and Creator of it all. Look at how unique everything is. Then are you supposed to do things the path of others? I wish I could say I was allowed to, but I’m not. But the testimonies that come from such an incredible journey will outweigh any difficulties or emotions. Remember, this is being done for victims to become survivors. God cares for them. He needs people that are committed to them and He needs people who are willing to go the distance. He alone qualifies the called. I may get accused of many things, but He knows best the hurts of those unseen and He alone knows how to provide for them. Backwards logic with a huge dose of trust…. never a dull ride!!