Integrity is integral to life, ministry, trusting relationships, and partnership in work like with YFC. Unfortunately, the daily news is full of people inside and outside ministry who are accused of compromising the truth. Abuse changes lives forever. But even the accusations of impropriety can be devastating to lives and reputations.
This is not an American problem. This is a human problem.
So it's time to share what the Clinkscales family is doing in Europe, what is coming in the future, and what you can do to help... lest a rumor weed begin to grow and take on a life of its own.
On The Mission Field
Many of you have been giving to this ministry, and we are so incredibly thankful for your early adoption of what God is doing! As we've posted pictures of our adventures on our Facebook pages, you should also know a few things in the interest of full disclosure.
Here are the bullet points:
The Nature of The Need
Our passion to serve God and others has led us to faithfully follow where we believe God is leading. That has meant significant sacrifices for our family. We've been happy to make them but we also know we cannot sustain what we have been doing indefinitely. We are not living the "high life," but we daily try to make the best out of this time in our lives.
We cannot do this ministry alone, and believe it would be wise of us to prayerfully plan both for our service with Youth For Christ Military in Europe as well as other potential opportunities.
With that in mind, I want to share Nehemiah 13:10-12 with you.*
10 I also discovered that the portions of the Levites had not been given them, so that the Levites and the singers who performed the service had gone away, each to his own field. 11 So I reprimanded the officials and said, “Why is the house of God forsaken?” Then I gathered them together and restored them to their posts. 12 All Judah then brought the tithe of the grain, wine and oil into the storehouses.
In the Hebrew Bible, the Levites were told they wouldn't have a possession in the promised land because the Lord would be their "portion." When God's people stopped bringing the tithe into the temple, the Levites and those ministering at the temple each went to their "own field." One could assume they do so to provide for their families.
I had to stop reading when I read that. I thought about the discomfort of missionaries doing fundraising. I also see God uses His people to fund His purposes without forcing them to obey His call.
Just as with Israel, the Church is commanded to go and make disciples, and to support the growth of the Kingdom. The apostles both supported themselves and were supported by those cheerfully moved to give (see these two passages). As with Israel, the Church can be obedient to the Lord or grieve the Holy Spirit. This is the line we all must walk in Christ. Missionaries must balance the passion for the ministry God's called them to (and the joy of asking people to be a part of what God is doing) with the need to explain that vision to others in hopes some will be moved to support them.
The nature of the need is that only the independently wealthy can serve the Lord freely without support (fingers crossed, I'm longing for that day!). Since most missionaries cannot boast limitless storehouses, we seek partnership with others: Men and women of faith who believe in Jesus and are stirred to see His name proclaimed in corners of the world they may never see; students whose lives have been changed by the people who invested in their lives; and even non-Christians who believe our military families need someone to be there for them.
Will you answer the need and see the work continue? Click here to give or here to learn more.
Thank you for prayerfully considering joining this ministry in your prayers and financial giving.
If you're interested in further study and thoughts on the above, read on below...
God could save everyone or no one without any of our help, and He would be completely just to do either; but in His grace and sovereignty He has called and tasked His people with going and making disciples. Only as a senior pastor did I speak with many church servants who have "gone to their fields" to care for their families because God's people haven't been giving cheerfully, or have expected them to live in poverty because that is what they expect of those who minister for the Lord. In recent Bible reading, I was moved by a section of scripture to write a note on my YouVersion app called "The Tithe To The Lord," which I'm including below for those interested.**
God instituted the tithe not because He needs food, but because He wanted to support the Levites through the faithful giving of Israel. In this theocratic society, the Levites were not to have an inheritance in the promised land, but the Lord would be their inheritance. So the people would bring their tithe to the gatekeepers and singers, who would tithe off their tithe to the Levites, who would tithe off the tithe of the tithe to the priests, and the priests would tithe off of that in either a complete burnt offering or the excess would be for the poor of the land. These two passages (Numbers 18:8-32, Nehemiah 10:34-39) explain that a little, but the first five books of the Bible deal with care for the poor in a way I didn't address in this blog post or note.
* The Tithe To The Lord
I have often told this to others but, since I’m here in my reading again, it’s worth spreading more widely. In paganism, sacrifices are brought to appease the wrath of this or that (false) god; to talk said god into blessing your crops, flocks, or family, your business, personal, or spiritual life. In such cases, your sacrifice is not an act of devotion as much as a bribe for good things. The pagan sacrifice is selfish and self-centered, not truly worship or god-centered.
However, in His Word, the living God (the only true and Holy One who is worthy of worship) makes it clear that the tithe is not for Him (as though He needed anything from us, see Psalm 50). God commands the tithe of His people not just so that His people can learn to honor the God who saves them, but so that He can continually show His great provision for His people, daily, by caring for the Levites and the priests among the 12 tribes (see Numbers 18:8-32, Nehemiah 10:34-39). They alone are to be a people set apart solely for service to the Lord on behalf of the people, and to the people on behalf of the Lord. They don’t have an inheritance among the tribes because the Lord Himself is their inheritance. When the people bring their tithe, they are doing a number of things: they obey God, they are God’s hands to provide for the Levites, they are the reason the Levites can serve the Lord without fear of being able to survive, and they experience the goodness of God as He responds to that faithfulness.
The Israelites were not always faithful to this command. They did not always obey. And in truth, like us today, they still finds ways around being obedient to the Lord. We can see this clearly in things like the tithe. The Israelites were rebuked by God either for not paying the tithe at all (see Nehemiah 13:10-12, Malachi 3:8-12) or for using the tithe as reason to neglect what Jesus called the weightier things of the Law (see Matthew 23:23-28).
But what struck me like a ton of bricks is what happens when the people of God fail to bring the tithe to the Lord. The passage from Nehemiah above has always been in the Word but I didn’t “notice it” until just recently, and it floored me! The passage in Nehemiah 13 shows us the people of God had not been supporting the Levites and singers with the tithe, so they left their service in order to provide for their families. Because the people of God were unfaithful to the Lord, those whom He purposed to be their portion were forced to seek their own welfare. And this was a shame on the people of God!
The priests, Levites, gatekeepers, and singers were to tithe off of the tithe of the people so food would be in the house of God to care for their own AND the poor of the land. We see elsewhere in the law of God that this was the means by which the Lord would care for not only His own people (Israel) but the foreign and the poor. When God’s people fail to follow what God has spoken, not only are we guilty of disobedience but the government (tasked by God to bear the rod of judgment against evil) takes up a function never intended for it and they do it in an ungodly fashion.
Today, of course, giving has changed and our culture is not theocratic. There is no clear transfer from Old Testament tithing to New Testament tithing, though we could say that Jesus maintained its importance throughout His ministry. What CAN be said is that if we are commanded to give cheerfully as we purpose in our hearts, with honesty, then we should consider why we are giving. And just as in the Old Testament text of Nehemiah 13, its worth considering that when God’s people do not give to God’s work, God’s servants will rightly go to work in their own field to provide for their families.
This is worth the time for every Christian to consider.
The following article link talks about tithing today and whether or not the practice is biblical. It's worth your consideration, even if you don't adhere to the author's conclusions: The Barnabas Ministry.
** As I referenced in my YouVersion note above, we are a kingdom of priests through Christ so the tithe of Israel's theocratic society isn't continued in the New Testament, but the concept of giving most assuredly is. My point is not to accuse the church today of not upholding the Old Testament commandment of tithing, but to explain how the Word makes clear that our failure to give to God's work (even under the new covenant in Christ's blood) directly impacts the work that may be done in Jesus' name. Time and again I have heard of pastors and missionaries and servants who would give more if they could but they simply have no more time or money to do so. Many are already giving substantially, but many others have gone to their field to provide for their families, apart from the ministry they were called to do. And it could be from lack of faith just as easily as lack of giving. But don't we find it easier to look at, and blame, another than to look inward and, when necessary, accept responsibility?
When it comes to personal giving – to say nothing of sacrificially giving in some way – we will do well if we examine our own practices and the heart behind them.
Clinkscales family updates: YFCI Work–Youth For Christ International
* Please note: Links from older posts may not have been updated to coincide with domain changes.