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People are naturally curious about our finances: How can we preach voluntary poverty at the same time that we fly all over the world. Could we be both poor and rich at the same time?

We definitely are rich by comparison to real poverty. Let me explain:  The Australian government doles out hundreds of dollars per week to people who are unemployed, sick, old, or for some other reason not receiving what they consider to be sufficient income. Yet, by world standards what the Australian government gives to the so-called poor of Australia, is an incredible amount of money. It would easily put you into the upper middle class in many (if not most) countries in the world!

We Jesus Christians do not work for a wage, and we do not accept the dole. We receive far less than what dole recipients get from the Australian government, and yet we consider ourselves to be rich by world standards.  Through careful management, we really ARE able to do things like flying around the world... even if we end up sleeping under a bridge after we get there.

Of course, in the eyes of the average American or Australian, we are quite poor. We receive considerably less (from all sources) than Australia's poorest of the poor (the dole recipients).

From the donations that we receive, we each spend less than $10 a day on food, clothing, rent, and other normal daily expenses. The rest of what we receive almost all goes toward transportation and printing costs, both of which are directly related to our outreach programs. If we received even a minimum wage for all the free work that we do, as a community, we could become millionaires almost overnight. But we are not interested in doing that.  We really are happy to be poor.

The fact that we ARE happy to be like this is what really infuriates our enemies. For by doing so, we expose the pointlessness of greed. Everyone, from missionaries to oil magnates, shamelessly seeks more money, while we shamelessly seek to live on less.  I am, by the way, convinced that we get more satisfaction from this lifestyle than they get from theirs.

Nevertheless, our critics become obsessed with locating the source of our income so they can attack it, in an attempt to prove that it is impossible for anyone to survive without money in today's world.

By the way, let me clear that little point up.  We do NOT (at the moment) survive without money.  People still give us money.  We usually accept it, and we have no problems with using it. But we believe the world is quickly heading toward a day when the only way to buy and sell will be to have something implanted into our right hand (or our forehead, if we have no right hand) that will be used for all business transactions.  We also understand that accepting such an implant will earn the people who accept it the unbridled wrath of God.  So we put a lot of effort into learning to survive on as little cash as possible.

But back to how our critics deal with the tension that our very existence causes for them. The usual approach is, "Okay, so you don't work for money.  We get that. But where does your money come from? Who pays for your plane tickets? Where did you get the clothes that you are now wearing?  That computer didn't just drop out of the sky."

The truth is that GOD takes care of us and one condition of the partnership is that we NOT think too deeply about how he does it.  But occasionally we let ourselves be drawn into answering further, and the usual answer is that in one way or another, someone gives us what we need... often just from the goodness of their hearts.

"Aha!" say our critics, "And where would you be if that person hadn't worked for money?"

"Back where we were in the first place... trusting our heavenly Father," we reply.

The difference is that we trust God and use money; our critics trust money and use God.

What a shame, when you think they could be working with a real God instead of the insipid God of their religious jargon.

(See also Living by Faith -- How to Do It.)

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