God moves a mountain of debt with art

Tags: Spain, US Office, Story

By Joel & Kara Barkman, missionaries in Spain

A massive mountain of school debt stood between us and the mission field of Spain. We had been slowly chipping away at it over the past couple of years, but it still seemed like it would take many more years to pay it off entirely. So we decided to try something different.

We put on an art auction and photography sale in Newton, Kansas, at Norm’s Coffee Bar. We had live music, a missions presentation, and sold 16 original paintings by Kara, along with matted prints from her photography collection. Kara received a surprise at the end of the night when two of her most dear paintings were given back to her as gifts. What an incredible and humbling experience!

Many people have been praying with us regarding this event, and we were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support in regard to the food, music, and set up. God worked through very generous donors and buyers to pay off about 95 percent of our remaining school debt in one evening! Thank you so very much for all of you who prayed and/or participated, in person or online.  We even had people bidding from halfway around the world!

Even if it is somewhat socially taboo to talk about our financial situation in this way, we hope this testimony will be an encouragement to everyone and show how God hears our prayers and is faithful and can move the “mountains” in our lives. It is only because of what God has done, not us.  It was incredible to see the Body of Christ come together in unity for this event. Not everyone is called to pack up and move overseas, but we believe everybody is called to have some sort of role in the Great Commission.

We cannot take ANY credit for what happened during the auction, and instead we must give God all the glory!  I Corinthians 1:31 says, “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”  We want the many people who were praying to know that God answers prayer, and that HE is sovereign in every situation.

Thank you for rejoicing with us! 

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Update: Throughout the Barkmans' first year on the field, they shared their stories — sucesses and struggles — with us. Click here to read the First Year on the Field series.