An Example of Generosity (Collective Strength)
I’m rather impressed with the generosity our church has shown towards relieving the disaster caused by typhoon Moricot in southern Taiwan. A congregation of about 550 people has donated more than US$75,000 (~NT$2,500,000) towards financing the relief effort. I expect a similar show of support towards the victims of Ondoy and Parma, in the Philippines.
Some math shows that each person in the congregation gave an average of US$136.36 in aid to Moricot. However, we also know of a lot of members who have made long-standing prayer requests for financial help – people who have been hard struck by the economic crisis, since the crash of 2007. So there is probably a much smaller number of people, giving proportionately larger amounts.
But from an alternate perspective, those who gave less may be more highly acclaimed by the Lord. Consider how the widow’s two mites were the most valuable in the Lords eyes.
41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44, New King James Version)
May the Lord reward each one in proportion to the depths of their sacrifice.
These observations made me recall some moments in my own past when I was really in need of cash. I’d like to share one testimony here.
Faith and Works Can Inspire the Generosity of Others
I had a very difficult time, financially, getting through college. It took me seven years to graduate. For the first four years, I frequently had to take time off from school to earn more cash, so that I could continue. Then one year, I got a very good job working as a welder on an assembly line in a Honda plant. It paid so well that I was able to save US$10,000 in the bank in only eight months time. After that, I bought a very good used car for US$2,000. It was a beautiful, cream-colored, 1968 Dodge Polara, with a 318 c.i. engine and a turquoise interior. My uncle knew the original owner personally, and remembered him driving this car to church every Sunday. I used the remaining money towards my next year at college.
I decided to transfer to Carson-Newman, a small, Christian College that was out-of-state. I had a high-school buddy who was a student there, and I visited him once for a few days. While I was there, I really felt blessed, and so I decided to get my degree from this school. The first year, I was on the honor roll, and I obtained a scholarship. The following year, I had a partial scholarship, and a part-time job as a laboratory assistant, so I was able to survive financially.
However, during my senior year, I ran out of cash. Since I only had one year left to graduate, I didn’t want to stop and go back to work again, so I took out a student loan, thinking I would make twice as much money after I had a degree.
Unfortunately, even with my part time job and the student loan, I ran out of funds after the fall semester, and I didn’t know how I would pay for my final semester in the spring. I asked my family if they could help me out, but my parents said they didn’t have any money on hand.
I told my professor, Dr. John W. Burton, about my situation, and he came up with a small grant from a private foundation, and he also located an alumni who donated a book award, which paid for my books. I was really grateful for their help, but even so, I was still US$1,900 short on the tuition, and I had to pay it before the deadline, which was three months away.
Then, my professor told me,
“When you go visit your family over the Christmas Holidays, go back to your parents, and tell them that you still need money, and tell them that if they can’t help you, then your professor will go to the bank and cosign a loan with you, so that you can finish school.”
I was really touched by his faith and generosity. I did exactly as he instructed, and I was very surprised when my mother suddenly came up with US$700! My father asked me exactly how much more I needed, and I told him I yet needed US$1,200. He said he didn’t have the money, but he promised he would come up with the money, and send it to me as soon as he got it.
When I told this news to Dr. Burton, he said,
“It’s just as I expected.”
I asked him why my parents changed their minds about giving me money to finish school. He only put his pencil against his face, along his nose, and tried to look at it with crossed-eyes, saying,
“Maybe they are just too close!”
His humor touched my heart and I began to understand.
Then, every month for the next three months, I received a check from Dad for US$400, so I was able to pay all of my tuition before the deadline. I graduated that spring with a Bachelors Degree, having a double major in Physics and Mathematics.
The Cooperative Rationale of Faith in Others
A few years later, I was talking with my Dad, and I asked him where he got the US$1,200 that he sent to me. So my Dad told me a little story of what happened.
“Well, I’m a deacon at our church, I’m on the board of trustees, and I’m also the treasurer. I knew that our church had all its’ debts paid, and received US$40,000 a month from the congregation, which was about US$10,000 more than its’ monthly expenses. I knew that the church had over US$560,000 in the bank, and the board of trustees just voted to put a new carpet in the sanctuary, which cost US$120,000. Now, the Church didn’t need a new carpet in the sanctuary! That carpet was only five years old, but the trustees didn’t know what else to spend the money on, so they just decided to get a new carpet!”
“Now, I make US$4,000 a month, and I give 10% to the church regularly as my tithe. All the rest of my income had already been budgeted.
But after you told me your situation, I thought to myself, ‘I’m giving a tithe to a Church that already has half a million in the bank, just so they can throw it on a new carpet, which they don’t really need anyway. Why should I give my hard-earned, $400 bucks to this Church, when my only son is barely struggling to finish college?’
So for the next three months, I sent that money to you, instead of giving it to the Church.”
I was surprised and elated to hear this, but before I could say anything, he finished with,
“And do you know what? I think that’s exactly what God would have me do!”
I had to agree with Dad. His example of stewardship has been a powerful and memorable testimony that has empowered me with the conviction that God is never short of cash, and that He will always provide for me, no matter what my circumstances are in life.
What a glorious testimony!
My faith consisted of my firm belief that I was to earn a degree. I dared even to venture that it was God’s will for my life, and that God would somehow make this happen. My actions of working hard in school, and asking others for financial help, are the “works” of faith. The miracle is how others saw my struggle, and felt inspired (by God) to make tough decisions and necessary sacrifices in order to assist me in my endeavor.
The moral of the story is that our faith, having a sense of purpose in life (being called to an ordination), hard work, and sacrifice are spiritually contagious essentials! By adopting these spiritual postures and attitudes, we are inviting others to do the same, through the Holy Spirit.
“Co-Ordination” is the Collective-Strength-driven Co-Operation of those called to an Ordination.” – Dr. G. A. Porter
It’s worthy to note that I needed Dr. Burton’s pledge before I could approach Dad with my request. So it follows that, Dr. Burton and my Dad, are Types of Christ and the Father-God, respectively.
“A ‘workless’ faith is a worthless faith.” – F. E. Marsh
Raging Vanity: Is it unscriptural for a Christian to ask for more of God? (July 13, 2013)