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July 31, 2020

Faithfulness in Time of Fear

After serving 16 years in the mission field, I asked the General Conference for permission to return to the United States. My request was granted, and I was assigned to be treasurer of the Mountain View Conference, the conference for the state of West Virginia.

I was delighted! Conference treasury work always had been my preferred line of service.

Six months after arriving in West Virginia, one of my daughters became sick and required multiple hospitalizations. Instead of improving, her condition worsened to the point that my wife and I feared for her life.  Added to the constant worry of my daughter’s survival was the financial strain I was under from the cost of the hospitalizations. Even though I had medical insurance, it only paid for two weeks of hospital care for this kind of illness, so thousands of dollars in hospital bills began accumulating!  

One episode of her illness was especially serious. As a result, she was taken to a hospital which specialized in treating her condition. I was informed that she would have to be hospitalized for six months. I quickly calculated the cost to be somewhere between $150,000 and $180,000. I panicked!  “I am ruined,” I thought. “I will have to declare bankruptcy. Imagine what church members will think of the new conference treasurer then!”  

While these thoughts raced through my mind, I came to the realization that I was helpless. The situation was out of my control. I could not fix it or change it. The only thing I could do was surrender my circumstances to the Lord and when I did, peace came to me. Almost instantaneously, these words of Scripture came to me, words I had often spoken to congregations in the past. 

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour you out such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” 

I could not imagine how this promise had any relevance to my current situation, but I was comforted by the thought that the Lord was speaking, to me. Then, almost as a command, I heard these words in my mind, “Claim this promise, Mark. Claim it!” 

I felt I needed to speak to the medical director of the hospital about my daughter’s situation. She was an older lady who had a very stern look about her. She affirmed that my daughter would be hospitalized for six months. I explained to her that I earned a modest salary and could never pay the cost. The expression on her face softened. She paused for a few seconds, then picked up the phone and I heard her ask to speak to the Health Department director. They greeted each other warmly and spoke on a first name basis so it was obvious they knew each other. The medical director explained my daughter’s condition and my financial situation. The health director responded, “I will call you back.” 

Ten minutes later the phone rang. The Health Department director explained to the medical director that the Health Department had a special fund for children afflicted with the same condition as my daughter, and that she was authorizing the payment of my daughter’s hospitalization costs from that fund. I felt like jumping up and down and shouting, “Halleluiah, praise the Lord!”  (Can you imagine seeing a treasurer do that?!)   

The coronavirus pandemic has brought real hardship, and fear, to many households. These times test our faith. Maybe you feel alone, perhaps you lost your source of income, or you might be afraid you’ll get the virus. Whatever your situation, surrender your circumstances to the Lord, be faithful to Him, and my prayer is that God will grant you peace and care for you. He did for me! 

Mark Eaton is secretary and treasurer of the Indiana Conference.