For many people, tithing is an act of faith...
A Gift That Keeps on Giving
by J. Mark Vandivort
A gold, high school class ring lay in the bottom of my sock drawer—the ring with the beautiful ruby birthstone. A gold buyer had set up shop at the Holiday Inn. Our bank account had become depleted, and we desperately needed grocery money to feed our five children. I could hardly bear to take my wife Louise’s tiny class ring to the dealer, but she insisted. Her brother, Gene, who was in the military, had sent her the money to pay for it.
Comfort filled my heart as we carried that sack of groceries into our kitchen.
Yes, we practiced tithing. And yes, God blessed us for doing so. He helped me remember that little hunk of gold lying on the bottom of my sock drawer. And many times, He has helped us face a “crisis-need” in other miraculous or unexpected ways.
For many people, I believe tithing is an act of faith. “And prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts…” (Malachi 3:10b). We also learned (sometimes the hard way) that we must write our tithing check first. “Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Proverbs 3:9).
In each of our home mission churches, I have preached about the importance of tithing. During the eight years I served as founding pastor of the Columbia Free Will Baptist Church (MO), our treasurer mailed a monthly ten percent check to the Missouri state office. From there, it was dispersed to several different ministries. On some occasions, after paying the bills, our treasurer didn’t have sufficient funds to write the tithe check. More than once I gladly returned some of my salary to make up the difference, believing that God would honor our commitment. He always did.
Writing to our friends in the Donelson FWB Church, Nashville, Tennessee, October 4, 1968, I wrote: “Andy (our 7-year-old son) seems to have caught the pioneer spirit in beginning the new church here. He carried his money jar to our first Sunday night service and emptied all his savings into the offering!”
Records revealed that our church (by including individually designated, missionary giving) averaged contributing twenty percent of our monthly income to our denomination. The Lord helped us accomplish that goal while making payments on five acres of property, building a church, and progressing toward a supportive, pastoral budget. Your gift to home missions is a gift that keeps on giving.
About ten years after we retired as national home missionaries, Matt and Angie’s green ’94 Saturn pulled into our Noble, OK, driveway one Thursday evening. They were between missionary conferences and had completed a tiring drive from Guadalajara, Mexico. Angie had attended our mission church as a small girl.
Having learned that they could rent a house, Angie encouraged their supporters to send them gift cards from Target. She was excited about purchasing some needed household and mission supplies. I was thinking, however, that it looked impossible to pack one more thing into their Saturn.
“Matt, I have a car-top carrier behind my storage shed. You can have it if you would like.” (I hadn’t used it in nine years.) What’s amazing is that this was truly an answer to prayer. A few days before, Angie had prayed that someone would give them a car topper, knowing that they couldn’t afford one and wouldn’t be able to get everything they needed back home. She hadn’t even shared that with Matt when this happened, and was grateful to delight in an answered prayer with others!
That fully-packed carrier made it back to Guadalajara. “Honor the LORD with your possessions…” and you will be blessed.
About the Writer: J. Mark Vandivort is a retired Free Will Baptist Minister and former home missionary to Flagstaff, AZ. Learn more about Free Will Baptist Home Missions at www.homemissions.net.