Good Evening All.
To say 2020 has been rough is an extreme understatement. The last two weeks in particular, have been an emotional and spiritual roller coaster for me.
But in that time, God has shown up for me in such a way that I have no doubt in His identity as Provider!
In my last post, I detailed the fallout of my business falling prey to a scam. My account was significantly over drafted, I was dealing with depression and self-hate for letting myself be taken advantage of, and I was creatively paralyzed. I had done everything in my human power to recoup what was lost, but it didn't look like the odds were in my favor. I never believed that this had been God's will, but I couldn't help but ask why? Why, when I'm trying to be in the literal business of fulfilling the Great Commission would this happen?
I knew and had been reminded that God would provide for me, but my belief in that was half-hearted. I resigned myself to the fact that the bulk of my income for the next few months would be put toward breaking even. The proverbial ball was in the Big Man's court, but I just knew it was I who was going to put in the work to do so.
Boy, was I wrong.
My brother-in-law had recommended writing about the entire experience, as a way to warn others of the scam, but to also get all these feelings out, so I did so: https://www.xmossart.com/post/satan-s-scams
It was a pretty raw and vulnerable post, but I felt if this had happened to me - more than likely - it had happened t others as well, and I wanted to spread awareness of this scam so that no one else would be taken on that journey of self-loathing I found myself on. As I wrote, I started to come out of the dark headspace, and identify what was a straight up lie from Satan. The idea of God's ability to provide kept popping up in my head and I said, I know You can provide - I don't know how, when, or where, but if this business is the mission field you want me to be in, You will provide. I shared my post on Facebook and Instagram. When I did so, I included hashtags of some verses that I had been turning to for encouragement, Psalm 42:5-6 and Joshua 1:9. I nearly didn't add them, but figured if anybody else was in the dire straits I was, I would at least want to point them to portions of God's Word that assured them He was there with them in the midst of all.
A day after I shared my post, I saw a comment from the
Joshua 1:9 Foundation (http://www.joshua19foundation.org/). Having just been scammed through Instagram, I was naturally very suspicious and decided to check out this foundation before I responded. I came to find out that it was a very legitimate foundation, established in memory of PFC Joshua Islam. His parents, James and Donna, use this organization as a vessel to support causes Joshua was passionate about, and to show that out of the midst of tragedy, God can work wonders. I started talking with James who had read my previous post, and called and literally spoke life to me. I did not know this man from Adam, but we both knew and loved Christ, and that was enough. He heard my pain, called out the doubts that were plaguing me as words from Satan, and affirmed me with multiple scriptures to continue doing the work I felt called to do in visual arts ministry. I had been tempted to crawl back into that dark head space earlier that afternoon when I got the letter from my bank basically saying I was responsible for paying everything back, but this phone call of encouragement and reminder to have faith in the midst of that began a restoration I didn't even know was coming.
Near the end of our call, James asked how much in the hole I was. Basically, I'd been scammed out of $2,000 and I didn't even have that in my account, so (with all those fun overdraft fees) I was roughly $1,600 in the red. He told me that he wanted to not only send me a dog tag inscribed with Joshua 1:9 - a verse that Joshua cherished and kept close to him throughout his time in training and upon which the foundation is based - but that he felt impressed to help me financially. I was taken aback. Strangers don't send each other money, especially when I walked into the scam. He simply said that he wanted to help in some way get back to a place where I could focus on ministry and asked for me to share my Venmo handle where he could transfer some help. I wasn't in a position to object, so I thanked him for his words of comfort and his offer to aid me monetarily. We bid each other good night, and that was that.
I had been on a two and a half week assignment substituting virtually for a first grade class, so this whole conversation went to the back of my mind until I got a notification from Venmo on Wednesday afternoon. I had just gotten home from work and was having a snack before buckling down to work on my art when this notification flashed across my screen:
I threw my phone across the room, striking the snack I was having and made a mess as emotionally, I became an even bigger mess.
James had not helped me financially. He had literally freed me of the burden of crushing debt and restored what was lost. There was no longer a deficit. I had more than enough to break even! But how? HOW? Things like this don't happen. Most certainly not in the midst of 2020! was utterly speechless and immediately set forth sending a message of extreme gratitude. Even after that though, I mentally said I would wait until Friday - when the amount posted, to see that I was no longer in the negative. I had no doubt James was legitimate, but having been through what I had the week prior - the paranoia was strong.
James responded later that night and simply said he couldn't wait to tell me the story about the above picture. The next day, he called and told me that when he approached his wife Donna about possibly aiding me financially, she shared this verse that had stood out to her that same morning, "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act." (Psalm 3:27) God had already been impressing the Islams in a way to help me, but this sealed just how much they were going to help me. James simply asked that I share my testimony and continue to plant seeds for Christ in all the work I do and bid me good night once more.
See just one of the ways the Joshua 1:9 Foundation is planting seeds for the Kingdom here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoerYBjrvXc
I'm honestly still processing all of this, and most likely, will be doing so for some time. If I had not been scammed, I wouldn't have had THIS experience. If my brother-in-law hadn't encouraged me to write about it, I wouldn't have had anything to share. If I hadn't shared my thoughts with #joshua1v9, James wouldn't have seen it. If James didn't follow that hashtag, we never would have connected. And if we had never connected, God wouldn't have been able to show me how powerfully He IS WORKING in the midst of what is intended to harm me, to accomplish good for, by, and through me (Genesis 50:20)! I've had experiences where it was totally God intervening, but this...this is a WHOLE 'NOTHA LEVEL!!! Let me be straight, I don't believe that God purposed for me to be scammed, just like I don't believe he desire for Joseph's brothers to sell him into slavery. I serve a God though, who works in the midst of the messes of sin, who is chockful with contingency plans to save us from the ill effects of others' sins, should we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. On top of that, other friends who had read of my plight offered their aid. My gosh, God...God is good. I've been able to bounce back fully and cannot thank everyone who prayed, encouraged, and just listened in this punctuated equilibrium of my faith.
A few things I clearly see now are:
God lives up to being the Provider IF we let Him.
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." (Luke 12:29-31) If we truly seek His kingdom first, God knows our needs and is already working to provide for them!
I am venturing down the mission path that God has called me to. Satan tried to tell me I had no business creating a visual art ministry, but God clapped back even louder and said Xavier's business is MY business!
Just as Jesus did in Mark 9:24, if we ask Him to help our unbelief, He will restore what was lost.
Through this entire experience, I've seen the mission of Christ in an entirely new way. I made a bad call and was literally going to have to pay for it. James and Donna, at the pressing of the Spirit, saw an opportunity where they good act for good and pay for it, even though it wasn't their responsibility. Out of love, and freely, they decided to do so. The same goes for Christ. He saw our Fall in Eden, and even though it wasn't his debt to pay, He stepped in on our behalf to pay for our sins. Not just to exempt us from the punishment of death, but that we could be restored to a life eternal with our Creator!
Two weeks ago, I saw what a heart bereft of God's love is capable of firsthand. Last week, I got to experience what a heart filled to the brim with God's love and on fire to act in His name is capable of when urged by the Spirit. This experience has reminded me in a POWERFUL way that, as Sandi Patty sang , "My God is real for I can feel Him in my soul!"
God is good ALL the time, and Satan's scams aren't going to keep me from preaching with my art!