By Henry Blackaby (Submitted by Al Blevins)
When the World's Fair was coming to Vancouver, our association of churches was convinced that God wanted us to try to reach the 22 million people that would come to the fair. We had about 2000 members in our association's churches in greater Vancouver. How in the world could 2000 people make a great impact on such a mass of tourists from all over the world?
Two years before the fair, we began to set our plans in motion. The total income for our whole association was $9000. The following year our income was about $16,000. The year of the World's Fair we set a budget for $202,000. We had commitments that would probably provide 35% of the budget. 65% of that budget was dependent on prayer. Can you operate a budget on prayer? Yes. But when you do that, you are attempting something only God can do. What do most of us do? We set the practical budget, which is the total of what we can do. Then we set a hope or faith budget. The budget we really trust and use, however, is the one we can reach by ourselves. We do not really trust God to do anything.
As an association of churches, we decided that God had definitely led us to the work that would cost $202,000. That became our operating budget. All of our people began praying for God to provide and do everything we believed He had led us to do during the World's Fair. At the end of the year, I asked our treasurer how much money we had received. From Canada, the United States, and other parts of the world we had received $264,000. People from all over came to assist us. During the course of the fair, we became a catalyst to see almost 20,000 people come to know Jesus Christ. You cannot explain that except in terms of God's intervention. Only God could have done that. God did it with a people who had determined to be servants who were moldable and remained available for the Master's use.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" John 15:5.
By The North American Mission Board (NAMB)
The North American Mission Board (NAMB) exists to help every church take its next step in missions and encourage every believer to live on mission.
NAMB's mission field is the United States, Canada, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. This region contains diverse ethnic groups, languages and religions. Approximately 269 million people in North America do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Through your gifts to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Cooperative Program, NAMB supports more than 5000 missionaries and more than 3800 chaplains who serve in difficult places where the gospel is often not welcome.
Through Send Network, we help Southern Baptists plant new churches. In the last 100 years, SBC churches in proportion to population has dropped. By partnering with churches to train and deploy church planting missionaries, NAMB's goal is to help Southern Baptists plant 1200 new churches annually in cities, small towns, college campuses, and military communities.
In 2016, NAMB launced Send Relief. Just as Southern Baptist Disaster Relief matches urgent needs with volunteers bringing help, Send Relief is expanding that to equip churches in addressing poverty, refugees, foster care and adoption, and human trafficking. We're establishing Send Relief regional ministries to meet needs and offer long- and short-term volunteer opportunities.
We are sincerely grateful for the prayer support and sacrificial giving of every Southern Baptist. You can be assured that we are committed to being the very best stewards with every dollar we receive.
By Alex Anderson
A pastor went to visit a widow. She greeted him with a warm smile. She invited the pastor in and offered him a cup of coffee. As they sat at the kitchen table in her modest home and talked, the pastor began to realize how poor the widow was. Not only was the home in need of repair, which included a new roof, but she wore clothes that were very clean and neat, like the inside of her home, but were tattered and in need of replacing.
The pastor was moved with compassion for the widow and felt bad for even drinking her coffee. He began to pray in his heart how he could help the widow.
Under the circumstances, she was surprisingly buoyant. She never complained and had a smile on her face.
Her husband died less than two years earlier. He had been a blue-collar worker all of his life and made very little income. He did not leave any money for retirement nor did he have life insurance.
Out of compassion, he asked how she was doing financially knowing that she was not able to work due to health problems. As a small crease formed on her forehead she paused and looked into her coffee cup and hesitated, but with a little more nudging from the pastor she shared her financial situation.
Her only income was a little less than $500 per month from Social Security and she obviously had no savings. In addition to her home needing thousands of dollars in repairs, she owed thousands of dollars in medical bills. Her words began to settle into the pastor's heart with an uneasy sick feeling. "How could anybody live on less than $500 per month" was his first thought and the second was, "What could be done about it?" His internal prayer to God was "This has to be fixed, Lord. She must not live like this any longer."
The pastor thought, "The moment I get in my car I'll call the church treasurer and immediately have money given to her." He also decided to leave her with the hundred dollars in twenties he had in his wallet, hoping to leave it in a way that she would find after he left.
As they continued to talk, the pastor had a thought that he knew came from the Father in Heaven, but he wrestled with the very idea. He decided to obey the Holy Spirit and asked the widow a very personal question that could have seemed inappropriate and taken the wrong way under the circumstances. So he asked her permission first to ask the question since it could be a very sensitive issue. She said she trusted that he heard from God and would like to hear the question.
So he asked, "Do you tithe?"
For a moment she just sat and stared at him. And after gathering herself, she looked him in the eye and said, "No. Not really. In the past my husband and I would give a little here and there, but we did not honestly give God ten percent of our income. Why do you ask?"
The pastor, who knows the real reason God instituted tithing, began to teach the widow. After about thirty minutes had gone by the widow's eyes lit up and she said, "Do you mean to tell me God uses the tithe in a way of getting the things I need to me and He's not trying to get something from me?" The pastor smiled and said, "Of course. The truth is God doesn't really need the money for Himself. Yes, the tithe is used by the church for expenses and to help others, but it is so much more than that."
The pastor could see a glimmer of hope in the widow's eyes. After they had finished talking, the pastor prayed for the widow and as he was leaving quickly put his cash in his empty coffee cup while the widow was looking the other way.
The widow began to tithe that week; and over the following months, a young doctor learned of her needs, and after talking with his wife, kind of adopted her. With great joy, the doctor and his wife replaced the widow's roof, bought her a newer model car, and helped her with many other financial needs. The doctor even reported that his own practice began to experience record growth shortly after he began to help the widow.
I know the pastor in this story very well and it gave me great encouragement to learn of how the Lord had responded to the widow and the young doctor's faith. With our natural mind, it makes no sense to give when you don't have enough, but the difference is to whom it is given.
There once was a credit card commercial that had the tagline, "What's in your wallet?" So my question is, "What's in your hand?" And if you put it in God's hand with a small amount of faith, what could happen?
Each month the Finance Committee seeks to include an encouraging article on stewardship. If you find an encouraging article on stewardship, please consider forwarding the article to our Finance Committee Chair, Debby Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.