A Testimony of God's Wonderful Faithfulness

Toni Ellis Testimony

I want to share just a snippet of how God has been faithful to meet my needs.

 We often read “God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19)

 But that verse starts with AND. What preceded it was Paul being thankful for the Philippian church sharing with him in the matter of giving AND receiving. (Philippians 4:10, 15, 19)

 Very early on God showed me how he was providing for me before I knew him. I believe the grace he gave me to put him first in my finances allowed God to show me he can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20.) He was faithful even when at times I was not.

 I grew up in the 60s and 70s in a foster home, with an older couple, in a working class household. There were no discussions with children about preparing for the future, no talk about making better choices or the purpose of college. The extent of a talk to us children was “and what do you want to be when you grow up?” The thought of living on my own was scary to me. I thought honesty, hard work and Social Security alone was all that was needed to succeed. Adults didn't have adult conversations with children. Sadly, the motto back then, often quoted was “children should be seen and not heard”. So where was I to get this knowledge? I was so naïve. At 17/18 in college, I really was alone. The thought of having to take out another student loan to continue to stay in college scared me so I dropped out of college after two years. But God's grace and provision was real to me, even before I committed my life to Christ. I had typing and practical clerical skills and one financial accounting class. In 1982, that was enough for a data entry job. Three years later, I found a new job where I worked for 13 years.

During that time I gave my life to Christ in 1985.

Months after being saved God gave me the grace to tithe not because I was being pressured into it nor was it mandated or tied to a promise of becoming rich like the false prosperity gospel. The appeal was that everything I have comes from God. That was good enough for me. And true to his word, despite the lack of a degree, advanced or otherwise, God provided.

As life progressed, due to my lack of discipline and living beyond my means I got  into credit card debt. God got my attention. One day I was about to go shopping for another sale. And in what felt like a near audible voice, I heard a very stern “STOP!” in my heart. I say audible because it came out of nowhere and startled me as I took one step down the subway stairs. I made an about face and took the bus home. I cut up my credit cards, wrote thank you letters to my creditors, made serious adjustments and figured out a budget and debt reduction payment plan. It took seven years to be debt free. I remember it never occurred to me to stop tithing because it was my irresponsibility that got me into debt, not God failing to provide. He did after all give me a job, a place to live, food and more. I didn't overthink it because I was already used to giving for 10 years at this point. During those lean times I saw God meet my needs in ways only he could to show it was Him. My sister called me foolish but I believed that I was to be obedient. And it was one week after that encounter with my sister that I had $50.00 left over after making minimum payments. From that point I gradually had to work LOTS of overtime… LOTS. That clear voice to “stop” before I started working overtime was God preparing me, because within 18 months, in March 1998, I was laid off. I had for the first time an emergency fund, savings, severance pay, unemployment and a ridiculously low rent of $450 for a one bedroom apartment in Astoria. To me this was God figuratively opening the windows of heaven as it says in Malachi 3:6-12.

I was unemployed for five months. I later found out a few months after being hired as a long term temp that both agencies I gave my resume to faxed it to this job the same day! Now remember I had no mentors, no family members with degrees, professional careers, owning houses, nothing. And yet the job God clearly sent me to was another act of his faithfulness because my boss was like a mother to me and informed me that NOT investing into a 401K was not an option. She even showed me WHERE to put my money. And this job which came with a pension in the private sector? 25 years later I'm still here. And my virtually non-existent limited college education was no limitation for God. Needing to move suddenly in 2006 when I faced the reality of paying more than twice my previous rent was fearful for me then. Yes, but not a problem for God. I found a rent stabilized apartment on Craigslist five blocks away. And for those nuggets of God's grace and mercy I have seen just how present God is and how he's not bound by our lack or limitations or circumstances.