Years ago when I arrived in Switzerland to begin my work there as a resident faculty member at the European Bible Seminary, I went down to the local courthouse to apply for my work visa. The man who interviewed me was very cordial and explained everything clearly to me. One of the things he told me was that in Switzerland residents do not file their income tax forms at the end of the year as is done in the United States and other countries. Instead, the Swiss government calculates the tax due from what the resident is earning and then sends them a quarterly tax bill.
So he asked me to come back and bring in any and all payroll and benefit files of income I had received from my employer, as well as my bank records, so he could do the calculation. That was easy for me since all I had was one W2 form from our denomination’s missions department. In addition, I was also asked to give him a list of recurring expenses so that he could apply the authorized exemptions. That was also easy to do since there were no benefits with my small salary. I gathered them all together and took them down to him so he could inform me what my quarterly tax bill would be.
However, after about a week he called me and asked me to bring in any other documents or receipts I may have to help him make a determination. I told him that I had nothing else except my Minister’s Report that I sent into my denomination’s headquarters each month. So he asked me to bring those in for the last two years. I offered no resistance and took them in gladly.
When I arrived at his office, he took my Minister’s Report Book and said he would get back to me as soon as possible. The next day he called me again and told me I could come pick up my papers and that he wanted to talk with me. So I went, and he and I sat down to go over all the records. He looked at me with a somewhat bewildered look on his face and said, “Reverend, I’ve gone over all these records again and again and I cannot find the answer. Did you know, that in the last year you paid out more than you took in?”
I glanced at him with the same surprised look he had. Then he asked me to explain how that could happen. I told him that I honestly didn’t know. All I did was take what I had received, paid my bills, and the lived off the rest to support my family and my ministry. He stared at my records on the table and then, as he shook his head, turned to me and said, “You know, reverend, I am very good at uncovering any false information by people who try to hide their actual income. But I must say, that in your case I see nothing that suggests that you are not telling the truth. I just can’t figure it out.”
As I sat there in wonder myself, I told him that the only answer I had to give him was from the Bible where it said: “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”1 I admitted that there were times when I didn’t know how I was going to make it. But I knew how Jesus multiplied the bread and fish when He fed the 5,000 and so I believed He could do the same for me.
He shrugged his shoulders and said that he would be sending me my tax bill based on what I had given him and that he was sure it would be, what they called, the “minimum tax.” As we walked to the door of his office, he told me that he had heard about these things of how God supplied people’s needs, but had trouble believing it. But now, he had seen it with his own eyes and knew it was true. I thanked him, and as I drove home I praised the Lord for His generosity and made up my mind that I would trust Him even more. Just as He multiplied the widows grain and oil in order for her to feed Elijah so the Lord had multiplied my income to help me be of service to Him without fear or disappointment. I guess I was also surprised that this gentleman didn’t ask me, “How can I become a minister in your organization?” – Dr. Robert R Seyda