What's Next for Home Missions?
Willing to Give
by Bob Lewis
“Their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea,
and beyond their power they were willing” (2 Corinthians 8:2-3).
The amazing words above are part of Paul’s description of the churches in Macedonia that, despite their own desperate financial circumstances, were willing to give sacrificially to the greater need of others. The words that grip me are they were willing.
Some time ago, I found my heart deeply burdened for the need of the Home Missions church in Clarksville, Tennessee (180 Free Will Baptist Church pastored by Chad Kivette). They were trying to get into their new building and were, as we say, “tapped out.” They could not afford to borrow all they needed to finish their planned building but had maxed out the space in their rented facility. I wanted desperately to help, but how?
Having been the pastor of Fellowship FWB Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, for less than a year at the time, it was with some timidity that I approached our church board with a plan I felt the Lord had placed on my heart. In that board meeting, I asked for their blessing to challenge our church to take $10,000 from our reserve funds and send it to Chad’s building fund. I wanted to challenge our congregation to match the amount through a special offering. The board voted unanimously and enthusiastically to do it.
For several weeks, we prayed about the offering. There was no hype or high-pressure promotion. I simply challenged our folks to give something that would challenge their faith—something sacrificial. An amazing excitement rippled through our church as we began to anticipate that the Lord was doing something special among us.
When the offering was received on that special Sunday, our people more than doubled what they had been challenged to do. They gave $ 25,202! With the money withdrawn from the reserve fund, and the offering our folks had given, we were able to send over $35,000 to relieve the burden of a sister congregation.
Our church is not special. We are not large (100 or so), nor do we have wealthy members. The key to these offerings? They were willing. All across the country literally millions of dollars are held in reserve by our Free Will Baptist churches. It is good and biblical to set something aside for a rainy day, but what a blessing it would be if a portion of those funds could be invested in one of the many Free Will Baptist ministries hurting financially.
Many years ago, the Lord gave me a thought that has framed my ministry: Faith replaces the statement, “I wish we could” with the question, “Lord, how can we?” In other words, faith doesn’t say, “We can’t.” Faith gives God a chance; it gets Him involved. The folks in Macedonia were in deep poverty, too poor to help anyone else, but they were willing. At some point, these folks asked, “How can we?” and God took care of the rest. They gave beyond their power.
I am praying that some pastor or layperson with a heart of faith will read this article and say, “Our church should do that.” Our pews are filled with people who would be “willing” if they were challenged to do something big, something sacrificial. Are you ready to ask, “How can we?”
About the Writer: Home Missions Board member Bob Lewis is a three-time home missionary church planter. Bob and his wife Brenda live in East Tennessee where Bob currently pastors. Two of Bob’s sons, Tim and Brian, have been active in Home Missions church planting as well.