Can we serve God without sacrificing our family?
From "In Touch With LifeSavers"
March 15, 1999
NOTE: Tim and Terri Palmquist produce this newsletter without charging LifeSavers Ministries for their labor.
The LSM board recently granted the Palmquists permission to include this article, in consideration for the time
they take to prepare the newsletter.
By Tim Palmquist
Throughout our years in pro-life ministry, we have experienced many personal financial crises. Often we have
been admonished in this context to consider 1 Timothy 5:8: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and
especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
During a recent financial crisis, Terri shared our situation with Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Rescue
National, who has been a source of counsel over the years. He suggested we call together some local pastors
and share the situation with them. "I'm surprised you have been able to keep going this long without their
support," he said.
So, we met with several local pastors, requesting their help and counsel. As the meeting began, the first pastor
began by quoting from 1 Timothy 5:8.
At first, we felt insulted to be once again confronted by this verse. After all, our children may not be the
best-dressed kids in the community, but they have always received plenty of food, warm clothes, and affection
from us. True, life would be much more "convenient" for them (especially on Mondays and Tuesdays) if we
weren't involved in pro-life ministry, but they understand the importance of having their Mama on the street trying
to save babies and help their moms. "Saving babies" isn't an abstract concept for them-they have seen and held
babies who have been saved.
I am often tempted to get a regular job at $50,000 per year, and put my family's finances in order. "Others use
their families as an excuse," I reflect, "so why can't I?" But again and again, God reminds me that any normal job
would take Terri off the sidewalks. For over 12 years I have witnessed the gift God has given Terri of
communicating with women who are about to have their child aborted. I have seen God use her in situations
which would be impossible by any human standard. I have held these precious children, and have heard their
mothers tell Terri, "if you hadn't been there, my baby wouldn't be alive today." In spite of all of my temptations, a
short time of contemplation always brings me to the realization that I must go out of my way to keep Terri on the
sidewalks, if not to continue my own involvement in this ministry. One baby's life is worth any inconvenience that
I or my family may suffer.
"But," you may interject, "Terri is not the only sidewalk counselor, is she?" No, but in spite of all of our efforts to
recruit more sidewalk counselors, it is not uncommon to find Terri all by herself on the sidewalk outside the
abortion chamber. Even with the unprecedented growth of this ministry in the last 12 months, this is still true.
Until we have more volunteers, I can't live with the prospect that my actions could result in the loss of such a vital
Even though I fully recognize the inconveniences my family must endure, I have been frustrated by the frequent
insinuation that I'm not interested in providing for my family. Far from "not providing," I have two jobs (in
addition to my work for LSM), and often work in the middle of the night just to provide for the family. Terri has
sometimes even taken on odd jobs to try to help, in addition to her many responsibilities of schooling and caring
for the children at home. How could anyone accuse us of not trying to provide for our family?
Yet, after a time of reflection, I now see that this scripture may be more appropriate than I had first believed. I
had always felt that I should be a "tentmaker," like the Apostle Paul, who is involved in ministry but provides for
his own expenses by having an outside job. In spite of the fact that the time we devote to ministry has usually
amounted to a full-time job, I have deliberately rejected seeing the ministry as a money-making opportunity. True,
we have requested personal financial assistance from family and friends over the years, but this has always been
done as a last resort, an effort to help us through a financial crisis, and we have never seen this as our primary
means of earning a living.
So, while pro-life ministry has been our primary vocation, we have refused to believe that it should be our
primary source of income! We've intentionally opposed using our primary occupation to provide for our
family. Perhaps we have been violating this scripture after all! Would anyone send a missionary and his family
overseas without assuming that they needed personal financial support?
Our willingness to serve as "missionaries to the preborn" without sufficient support would be fine if we were just
ministering by ourselves; but as long as we have children, it is wrong for us to refuse to see this ministry as an
opportunity to reap financial benefits. (Just writing that last sentence makes me cringe! Years of seeing Christian
leaders living in the lap of luxury, while asking for sacrificial support from their flock, have caused me to have a
backlash against this concept. But that is not what we're about. For most of our married lives, we've been
deliberately living in relative poverty. But now we want to move our family of 10 out of our three-bedroom house
into a five-bedroom house. We want to buy the best educational resources without having to think twice. And
maybe we'd even like some better transportation than our 12-year-old van.)
We know that some people are offended at pro-life leaders who have large families (and, yes, we're expecting our
eighth blessing soon). A friend recently told me why she no longer supports another ministry: "Why should I send
him money to help pay for his large family, when I can't afford a bigger family?" If you feel this way, please don't
support us personally, but don't use this as an excuse not to support LifeSavers. Donations to LSM are used to pay
for ministry expenses, not to provide for anybody's family.
In spite of the time and effort we devote to LSM, the organization suffers because I don't have enough time to
provide adequate leadership. LSM would benefit if our finances allowed us to focus more time on leading this
ministry. ("But couldn't some other volunteers pick up the slack here?" you may suppose. Perhaps, but recruiting
and coordinating these volunteers requires administration, and adequately addressing the escalating administrative
needs of LSM requires more time.)
We would much rather not ask for money at all, for ourselves or for LSM. If you have watched us over the years,
you have witnessed the fact that we deliberately avoid manipulative fundraising tactics which are used by most
other groups. We would much rather just let God lead individuals to respond. But God has also convicted us that
it is our responsibility to make the needs clear; otherwise, you won't know what to respond to.
We know from experience that God will provide. (He proved this once again during our recent crisis, when He
surprised us by leading friends of this ministry from Indiana to meet our immediate need.) The only question is,
will you allow Him to use you as part of that provision?
Tim and Terri currently receive $50 in monthly support for their personal needs. (Tim's current rate for
his computer programming services is $50 per hour.) Donations to Tim and Terri are not tax-deductible.
The Palmquists can only receive donations which are made payable to Tim or Terri Palmquist, or cash
which is specifically designated for the Palmquist family. All undesignated donations given to LifeSavers
Ministries must be deposited in the LSM account to be used for ministry expenses. Checks which are made
payable to LifeSavers Ministries cannot be used to support the Palmquist family.
Back to In Touch With LifeSavers, March 15, 1999
More letters from the Palmquist family