God delights in doing the impossible. When man has run his course and comes to his extremity, God can part the waters and supernaturally provide. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever.
A declaration of God’s ability and abounding grace toward those who believe Him and are willing to demonstrate that faith in consistent and sacrificial giving for the cause of missions is found in II Corinthians 9:6-8:
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”
A missions challenge to the congregation of the Bible Baptist Church in Duncan, OK, based upon this truth, has been a major emphasis of my ministry as pastor since coming to Duncan in April, 1970.
A testimony of God’s faithfulness to our church is what I would like to relate to you in this writing, not that Bible Baptist Church or her pastor would be exalted, but may the One of Whom, and through Whom, and to Whom, are all things, receive the honor and glory that only He merits. Also, it is my prayer that, in sharing this testimony, some others may be encouraged and challenged to embark on a similar venture of faith that the work of missions would increase.
For some time, I have refrained from sharing this testimony in a public way for fear that pride would be my motivation, and also a concern over what others might think. However, God has been dealing with me through His Word to show me that He would be pleased if this testimony were shared and used to provoke others unto good works.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” (Hebrews 10:24)
“Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.” (II Corinthians 8:24)
“For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.” (II Corinthians 9:2)
There was a time since surrendering to the ministry that I had a fear of emphasizing missions too much. Though I would not have admitted it at that time, I was afraid that people would give to missions to a point that would endanger the general financial welfare of the church and especially the income of the pastor. This, of course, was a selfish fear and revealed on my part a lack of faith in the promises of God. Based on this inward observation, may I be bold to say that I believe the reason a church is not engaged in a strong missions emphasis is many times due to a lack of vision and faith on the part of the pastor and/or the congregation. The church is told to follow the pastor’s example of faith, but before they can follow, there must be leadership.
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (Hebrews 13:7)
God used many experiences in my life to convince me that He would keep His promises in the area of finances just as in other areas of life, so I came to Duncan fully persuaded that what God has promised, He is able to do knowing that if we wanted to participate in God’s bountiful harvest, we would have to sow (give) bountifully. I personally, committed myself to this, and many in our church followed the example. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (II Corinthians 9:6)
Many of us purposed in our hearts to give regular missions offerings above our tithe, “That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” (Deuteronomy 23:23) and for nearly 12 years have been cheerfully performing the doing of it. “As he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;” (II Corinthians 9:7) You see, the promise must be claimed by faith initially, but it also must be continued by faith consistently.
Some of us can testify to God’s abundant grace abounding in our personal finances, and our church as a whole can most certainly testify to this. The total income of the church has increased 5½ times in eleven years much of which, of course, is due to inflation. However, while our total income increased 5½ times, our missions giving increased 35 times, and the percentage for missions went from 11 percent to the 61 percent figure for 1981. To us, this is just AMAZING GRACE! Look at the God-given increase of the last six years:
If you look carefully at the above figures, you will see one very important column that is an often overlooked key to the success of the church’s missions effort. It is the amount of the general offerings. As you notice, during the last six years of high inflation in our country, we have spent approximately the same amount each year throughout this period for local needs. We have employed conservative measures in spending, and try not to waste God’s money. We believe that being wise stewards of God’s money brings divine favor upon our finances. Thus God has been pleased to entrust to us this abundance.
Let me hasten to add that our church has not suffered need during this period. In these six years we have spent over $60,000 in property improvements and equipment purchases. This includes a complete parking lot for more than 100 cars, remodeled offices, carpet, metal trim on the entire building, and a new carport, plus the purchase of an offset press, typewriter, copier, organ, piano and other items too numerous to mention. God is faithful to keep His promise to supply all our need. (Philippians 4:19)
Some say that they could never expect to do anything like that because of a large indebtedness which is putting a strain on their finances. Let me assure you, however, that you can do it, not because of your ability, but because GOD IS ABLE (II Corinthians 9:8)
Upon coming to Duncan in 1970, I found a solid church with financial stability. All bills were current, but there was no surplus of funds, and there was a bond program with over $90,000 to be paid over a period of many years. We immediately began a missions challenge and the people responded. We did not wait until the debt was paid or until there was a surplus of money. The financial posture immediately improved, and the debt was erased in approximately four years. Our missions giving even increased each year during this period, but our greatest increases have been in the last few years in spite of economic problems in our country.
Some would say that they might get involved like this if they had a large church, but let me inform you that our congregation numbers between 150 and 200 people. We are not in an area with a high pay-scale, and all of our people are not yet involved, but God is still able.
There are some who say that the greatest need is to establish more churches in order to broaden the base of support for missions. This is truly a need, but I believe it is even more important that established churches catch a vision of the abounding grace of God and learn the grace of giving. Available missions support could multiply immediately to meet the inflated costs of doing God’s work in our day, and missionaries could get on the field much sooner.
The whole matter boils down to a few simple questions:
Has God revealed His purpose for a church’s emphasis on missions? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Has God committed Himself to the provision for this abounding ministry?” But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) “…always having all sufficiency…” (II Corinthians 9:8)
Am I willing to, by faith, start systematically and sacrificially giving to missions? “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:6-7) Can I then trust God to provide both that which He asks of me and that which I need from Him? “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” (II Corinthians 9:10-11)
Am I committed to be a faithful steward, and continue abounding in my giving as God’s grace abounds toward me? “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (I Corinthians 4:2) “…that ye…may abound…” (II Corinthians 9:8) Beloved, it is my earnest prayer that we will seriously face this issue, and allow God to direct us in yielding to His will. When we thus become His vessel to accomplish His work in His way, God will be glorified.
“For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:12-15)