I’ve heard the expression “a million dollar job” but that is not the case here. I want to tell you about a great miracle that God did for me a couple of years ago. When all is said and done, it will be a One-Million-Words Job!
I want to write this story to give honor and glory to God for his care and provision. It all started with a very big disagreement, similar to what happened more than 2000 years ago in Antioch.
Acts 15:35-41 ESV
And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
The first time I was introduced to this incident was in 1961, when my parents and some American missionaries parted way in Peru. They had been working together for a while but their different points of view brought them to a situation like the one depicted above. I remember my mother trying comfort herself by using the example of Paul and Barnabas, who parted ways because they had different opinions about John Mark, the young man who later would write the Gospel of Mark.
Mark had started out with Paul and Barnabas when they were sent from Antioch on what is known as Paul’s First Missionary Journey. “And they had John to assist them,” we read in Acts 13:5. They had not gone very far in their journey when “John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (verse 13). It did not sit well with Paul and it was the reason why he didn’t want to take John Mark with them at the start of his Second Missionary Journey. Paul and Barnabas had such a sharp disagreement that they separated from each other.
Barnabas probably defended John Mark because they were family. This young man was his cousin (Colossians 4:10). Family ties are strong. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. They went home! In Acts 4:36 we read that he was from Cyprus. He didn’t have anything to go back to in Jerusalem because he had sold his field, so it was the most natural thing to go home. Don’t we all feel that way when disappointment strikes? HOME is such a safe and comforting place! At least that is what it should be.
Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 4:36,37
This was a compassionate man. The apostles gave min the name Barnabas, meaning Son of Encouragement. He was the one who brought Paul to the church in Jerusalem and put in a good word for him. When no one believed in Paul, Barnabas did!
And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 9:26-28
I’m sure it was hurtful for Barnabas when they parted ways. He wanted to encourage John Mark and give him another chance. That’s where Paul disagreed with him. So they went home! Home is a good place to pick yourself up and start over. Home should always be a place of refuge.
We don’t know how things developed exactly, but somewhere and somehow John Mark got another chance and he became one of Paul’s coworkers. When Paul writes to Philemon, Mark is included in the list of Paul’s fellow workers: Aristarchus, Demas and Luke. As a matter of fact, he is mentioned first! (see verse 24)
Much later, when Paul is in prison and writes to his spiritual son Timothy, he asks him to come quickly, because Demas has deserted him, loving the world. Only Luke is with him. Then he asks Timothy to bring Mark with him.
Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 2 Timothy 4:11
This is such an encouraging story, because it shows that our differences and disagreements don’t have to be the end of the story. There always has to be forgiveness in the picture. Sometimes a disagreement can be the beginning of something new and different, something much better.
Having said all this, I will get to my story. Two years ago, a fellow worker and I had a BIG disagreement. The details will remain sealed but let me tell you what came out of a very painful situation.
I was doing free-lance translations for a Christian publishing house, and had been doing it for years on end. Months before the incident God had been speaking to my heart about resigning and moving on. I knew they were happy with the work I did and I had a good relation with the person in charge. I felt that I would disappoint her if I cut off my services; but the promptings from God came coming and I wasn’t acting on them.
Then came a job that I had to disagree on. So big was the disagreement that I was told that it would be the end of the story. No more jobs would come my way. It was a very hurtful and painful experience. The same day this happened, earlier in the morning, Cristina from Peru had called me being very dishearted. I didn’t know it then, but that day was her birthday. She was walking the streets of Lima without a job, having been fired. She had been doing some volunteer artwork for me and I had been thinking that it would be great if she could work full-time for me. Since I had this free-lance job I felt confident in offering her to work for me. I would pass on my earnings to her. So she was hired on the spot!
Later that morning I received the “fateful” phone call that turned my world upside down. Of course, God knew all this would happen so I’m sure He was the one who “arranged” that I would have a friend with me that morning. She had just helped me put up all the markers on my map that showed the 150 countries to which my blogs had reached. This friend just pointed to the map and encouraged me to take heart and think of all the people who were receiving my stories and Bible lessons.
I prayed to God and said that I didn’t have the heart to “un-hire” Cristina. I had been so sure in my heart that it was the right thing to do. “Lord, you will have to give me another source of income to pay Cristina,” I said.
It all happened on a Friday. I had a translation job for another company, lessons for orphans and children at risk. The lady in charge talked a little about wanting me to do the entire project, but since it was all based on donations she wasn’t sure it could happen. Well, it happened!
On Monday she called and asked if I was willing to take on the project. “I want to hire you,” she said. “It’s going to be a contract for three years, and we will pay you one year in advance!“
Have you ever heard of such a thing? One year in advance! Now I was FREE to take that job. That is the One Million Word job! I don’t know how many times I have thanked God for that Fateful Friday. It was painful, but what a blessing! Now I don’t have to feel bad about leaving them, because “they” let me go.
I work by quarters with three units each. I just finished the 8th quarter. 39 lessons and close to 82,000 words. When I finish the project, one year from now, I will have translated 468 lessons and some One Million Words!
It’s not a “million dollar job” but it sure feels like it. In the other job I was translating theological articles for preachers with complicated subjects and words. This is a job right up my alley! It’s the thing that I do and have done all my life: Bible lessons for children! It can’t get any better.
I felt so blessed and thankful today that I wanted to dance. Every time I rejoice because God gave me this job. It started with a very painful disagreement. Paul and Barnabas also had a painful disagreement, but God didn’t leave them. Paul continued his ministry with other fellow workers, the main ones being Silas, Timothy and Luke.
When Barnabas went “home” with John Mark I’m sure he continued his ministry of “encouragement.” John Mark became a great servant in the Kingdom. We have the wonderful Gospel of Mark which he wrote.
This experience is one of the greatest miracles in my life. Who ever heard of being paid one year in advance? God knew I needed that encouragement (and the money!). This job has made it possible for me to have Cristina and also the services of my excellent artist in Costa Rica, brother Absalom-Leon. He did the pictures that illustrate this blog. He has done 150 pictures to illustrate the entire book of Acts. I’m praying about it and wondering how I can best use those pictures. We will have them in PowerPoints and in separate visuals for the teachers, and I’m hoping to do some children’s books.
All the blessings and teaching materials produced on my websites the last two years started with some very painful disagreements (there is another one, which I might write about some day, if God puts it on my heart do do so). I guess this experience was God’s way of cutting me loose, since I wasn’t paying attention to His promptings.
Are you still with me? God bless you! Wow! Now let me encourage you! Whatever you are going through, you’re going THROUGH. You’ll get to the other side!
Have you read Romans 8:28? Maybe you’ve quoted it. Believe it! I’m a living testimony that it’s true. The 640,000 words I have translated so far on this project is proof.
I am so thankful to God –I don’t have words to express it– that I get to translate lessons that go to orphans and children at risk in Latin America. If someone offered me a million dollars it would mean nothing compared to the joy of doing this job.
I hope you can get a job that you feel that happy about!
And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,
for those who are called according
to his purpose.