I intentionally woke up early this morning so that I could get to the office a couple of hours before daylight. We have a lot going on at Cattle For Christ. There are a number of challenges that we face and there are some important decisions that I have to make in a relatively short period of time. I know that these challenges are beyond our ability to resolve in our own strength, wisdom, finances and abilities. I know that the decisions I have to make are beyond my ability to make without God's help. I also know that none of the needs and challenges we face are beyond God's ability to meet, nor are they outside of His will. So I am here, seeking His face, asking for His guidance, and waiting for His provision. I am also asking you to consider being a part of His answer.
During our last Cattle For Christ Board meeting, we committed to pray and to fast, individually and collectively as a group; specifically asking the Holy Spirit to give us the direction and provisions that we need to meet the day to day operating needs of the ministry. We exist to fulfill our mission and our purpose of glorifying God by ministering to the needs of the poor and the lost both here at home and around the world. Our prayer is that we stay in the center of God's will, not on the fringes, and that we not make any decisions that are not within His perfect timing.
What sometimes gets a little hairy is trying to discern God's timing and the exact next step that we are to take in doing what He has called us to do. In most cases, what God does and what He calls us to do, will not work out on paper. It is most always beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and is impossible for us to do in our own strength with what we currently have in hand or at our disposal. He calls us all to a walk of faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God! (Hebrews 11:6).
Sometimes we find ourselves just like Jack and I found this young bull earlier this week. We cannot see further than our nose. We know and have seen the need around the world. We know what the Lord has called us to do to meet that need. We know we are doing His will the very best we can, but we cannot see far enough ahead or around us to know what to do next. So, that is why I am in the office two hours before daylight, just to seek His face, to gain His wisdom, and to ask Him to show us the next step He wants us to take.
Just to give you a simple example; the Lord has really blessed our Cattle For Christ cattle herds in AL and in TX. In 2011, we held our first "Cattle For Christ Moving 'Em Out For Missions Sale", just three years after we started our herd of donated (or raised from) donated cattle. We have never purchased a cow and yet we sold over 250 head in our sale. Our Alabama herd is currently back up to 325 total head (calves included) and our TX herd has 22 head. You may be thinking: "What kind of problem is that? If I had that many cattle, I would be set, not worried!" Well, believe me when I say that when you operate the way we do, there are plenty of challenges that come with the blessings of a large herd. So, why do we do it? It provides a simple, yet significant way for Cattlemen, Ranchers, Farmers and everyone working in agricultural industries to unite and work together to have an eternal, positive impact on the lives of people around the world in ways that are effective, efficient and accountable.
We need large numbers of quality cattle for several reasons. First, we need numbers of quality cattle to sell every year to support our day to day ministry expenses and to help fund the work we do both here at home and around the world. Secondly, we need numbers of quality cattle to positively and significantly impact the cattle and other agricultural industries, which have been the primary sources that the Lord has used to fund our work. Thirdly, we need numbers of quality cattle to continue to get help from our current and potential Corporate Sponsors who donate their products, supplies, feed and other goods and services to help make our herds more profitable for the ministry. Fourthly, we need large numbers of quality cattle to be deemed worthy of any kind of national media coverage and other sources of advertising that we do not have the funds to pay for.
The challenges we face with the blessing of large numbers of cattle are significant. We make the argument that there are certain 'fixed' expenses; equipment, labor, land, insurance, vehicles, working facilities, and other resources that we need no matter if we have 50 head or 150 head. However, when we grow beyond that number, as we believe the Lord is telling us to do, the fixed expenses greatly increase. We desperately need more pastures, that as of today, we have not been able to find within a reasonable distance or price. We need more labor (all of ours are volunteers except Jack), more hay and feed, more seed, more fertilizer, more fencing supplies, more fuel, another truck and more equipment--all without funds to purchase them.
Though we try to get everything donated that we can to operate the farm, there is still too much that we have to pay for to be able to cash flow the farm with the rules we have put into place. Cattle For Christ has not, does not and will not ever borrow money. All that we have to fund the day to day ministry expenses are the proceeds from the sale of cattle, funds from donors that are specifically designated for ministry expenses, and the 10% of designated and undesignated missions donations that we keep to help us operate.
Ministry expenses include all the day to day operations of the ministry including: office expenses, utilities, travel, fundraising, taxes, maintenance, farm expenses, equipment, vehicles, lodging, and everything else we need just to keep the ministry running. Unless otherwise designated, 90% of every dollar that we receive that is undesignated or designated for missions, goes directly to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of people both here at home and around the world. Greg (our TX representative) and I raise our own salary and do not receive any of the proceeds from the herds or other donations, though we do the work. Every dollar we get for salary is designated specifically by the donor for our personal support.
So one of the decisions we are having to make is what to do or how far to go with our cattle herds. We feel that the Lord is leading us to continue to grow our herd to about 300 mama cows, but so far, that does not look possible unless someone steps up to help with pasture, hay, feed, fertilizer and other expenses.
We see hay wasting in hay fields all around us. We see pastures or land that could be put into pasture that is un-used, but owners are not willing to rent it--much less to donate it's use for God's purposes. We see a lot of equipment all around the state and the nation that is parked, rusting in barnyards that would make our labors for God more profitable and a lot easier. Sadly, we also see a lot of complacency when it comes to glorifying God for the sake of the poor and the lost around the world.
We have to assume that most people either do not understand what Cattle For Christ is doing, how we are really doing it, or why we are doing it. It could be that they do not realize the significant impact that our work has had on so many (physically and spiritually) around the world. Perhaps they do not really believe that people really do have to hear the Gospel message to be saved--and without faith in Christ, they are hell bound (John 3:16-18, Rom 10:13-14, John 14:6).
Perhaps the reason we have so many challenges as we try to do God's will God's way is that the majority of people (churched and un-churched alike) have never seen the real need of people around the world or either they do not care. More than 4.5 billion people who have never heard the Gospel message will die and spend eternity in hell because they have not heard the Gospel message. How is it that we are not moved to take the saving message of Jesus Christ to them. Every day, 30,000 children under the age of 5 years die from starvation or preventable diseases, (that is 21 babies per minute), but we do little if anything to rescue them.
If you have clothes on your back, shoes on your feet, food to eat, a house or apartment to call home, and have access to some type of reliable transportation--you are among the 15% of the world's wealthiest people! I doubt that anyone reading this article is outside of that group of the privileged.
There is nothing that God is calling us to do through Cattle For Christ International that He cannot provide what we need to do it. However; God almost always works through the lives of His people to accomplish His will. Whatever God has put in your hands, He can use to help us take the Gospel message and the love of Christ to the poor and the lost around the world? What has He given you that you are not willing to trust Him with? Whatever you give away in Christ's name, you can never lose. Whatever you hold on to you can never keep!
We are doing all that we can do to provide effective, efficient and accountable ministry to those who are lost and hurting around the world, but we need your help! Cattle, equipment, pasture land, hay, 1 or more acres of crops, vehicles, feed grain, airline miles, stocks, monetary gifts, your prayers or anything else that you can give will help us accomplish God's work among the poor and the lost. Together, we can make a difference!
The thought that there is so much need that you cannot make a difference is a lie from Satan himself! We cannot save them all, but we can save some. Will you help?