Once Was a
Millionaire; Deals With God
by Peter Jordan
The song rankled in my ears; it needled at me day and night; it upset
me and hurt me and I tried everything I could to get the mockers off my
back. Here are the words that some older boys mercilessly taunted me
Your father is a good miss-ion-ary
He saves all the girlies from sin
He sold two plants for a nickel
Oh how the money rolled in
Those unkind words
put to a popular melody of the day were aimed at me
as a ten-year-old boy when I was in prison. This was during the more
than three years my family and I - along with the other 'foreigners'
who were trapped in China right after Pearl Harbor - became 'guests' of
the Imperial Japanese Army in an abandoned military academy, within
clear view of downtown Shanghai's Peace Hotel and other tall
My missionary Dad's hobby was growing tomatoes and selling some of the
plants in order to supplement our pathetic diet. But the money never
rolled in - well . . . maybe once it did, as you will see.
Finally the taunting by the song ran its course and my tormentors left
me alone. But something must have become embedded in my
a deep hurt about missions and being a Missionary Kid (even though the
term 'MK' had not yet been invented). Over the next 30 years,
unknowingly, I harbored a grudge against God and against ever being a
missionary. In fact, I had a bit of a deal with God that went something
like this: "I'll serve You in the local church, but the LAST THING I'll
ever be is a missionary."
mistake to do deals with God
Generally, before World War 2, growing up in China as missionary kids,
we had enough to get by on, though once I remember having to walk to
school barefoot - no money for shoes, and it wasn't summertime.
Once locked up in this prison, my Dad, a career missionary and a man of
great faith, grew his tomato plants in his spare time; his main
'ministry' was helping to boil thousands of gallons of water a day so
that 1800 of us prisoners could drink without getting sick. Every
able-bodied adult was assigned some job to keep this little 'city'
going. Dad, who had never had to do manual labor full time, suffered
intensely from boils on his arms and side, brought on by malnutrition,
by worries for his family and by the blazing heat of Shanghai summers.
But his faith in God never wavered.
When we were liberated by the US Marines in 1945, some wealthy Shanghai
businessmen got together and gave each prisoner a gift of money -
$250,000! I can still see those stacks of crisp and newly-minted $1000
bills, seductively stacked high on a shelf in our one-room 'home.' That
gift made our family of five, missionary millionaires.
And did you know that God has a sense of humor? All
those years of
refusing His call, He didn't forget that 'deal' I'd made with Him . . .
the one where I said that the LAST THING I'd ever be is a missionary.
Guess what? It WILL be the LAST THING
I'll ever be
. So don't try to do
deals with God.
Oh yes, the millionaire thing; just one problem about all that money: a
loaf of bread cost $30,000 due to the horrific rate of inflation in
China after the war; so that bundle of banknotes didn't last long. And
strangely, I've never wanted to be a millionaire - again.
Want to read more from Peter Jordan? Contact: 'eTouch.'
The Jordans and their four children joined YWAM in 1976. Together they
served in the Asia-Pacific region. They are pioneers of the Kona,
Hawaii base and have led Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Kona and
Singapore. Peter has previously served as assistant to Loren
Cunningham, founder of YWAM. Peter and Donna founded YWAM Associates
International in 1988 after meeting countless returning missionaries
and hearing of their need for support and encouragement when making the
difficult transition from missions back to home life. Peter and Donna
have played host to thousands at inTouch Gatherings since they began
holding them in 1991.