A Missions-First Policy
By Clint Morgan
Just outside Greenville, North Carolina, where Mills Road and Ivy Road intersect, a small white building sits alone. At first glance, you might think this is a country store, and it was at one time. But a closer look reveals this store has a steeple. The sign out front reads Cedar Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.
Reverend Mike Brown and his wife Peggy (pictured below) have ministered to this congregation for 20 years. Cedar Chapel was founded in 1992. Two pastors served before the Browns arrived in 1995. The small country church is unique in many ways, but three factors stand out. First, the congregation is largely made up of people from challenging economic situations. No wealthy members attend the church. Second, the church has never grown above 55 members due to the transient nature of many of the congregants. And third, one that touches us at International Missions, is this church averages around $400 a month in giving to world outreach. This third element is due primarily to the leadership of Mike and Peggy.
When Mike accepted the role of pastor at Cedar Chapel, he told the church he would only accept the call if they “pledged to give 10% of all income to missions.” He went on to say the priority in church spending would be “pay our bills, give to missions, and then pay the pastor’s salary.” The church has kept that pledge for 20 years and will continue to do so as long as Mike remains. We would probably be humbled if we knew how often the pastor has not received his salary, in part or whole, because no money was left after paying the bills and giving to missions. This is certainly an example of sacrificial giving on behalf of this pastor and his wife. The members of the church have limited income potential, but they have clear stewardship priorities. In addition to giving 10% to missions, they also support several other ministries like Gideon’s International, Samaritan’s Purse, an orphanage, and others.
Mrs. Hilda, a charter member of Cedar Chapel, says, “Our pastor encourages us to give. Most of the members have not been in church most of their lives like I have, but he teaches them and they give. I am the treasurer of the church, and I can tell you Pastor Mike insists I send the money to missions before he gets his salary. He truly has a heart for missions.” It is nothing short of inspiring that this small congregation does what it does for missions. The answer lies in the leadership of the pastor. Mike and Peggy have set the example and led the church to give to world outreach, even out of their limited resources. They are to be sincerely thanked and honored for their unwavering commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission, both in Jerusalem and the uttermost parts of the world.
About the Writer: Clint Morgan has been general director of International Missions since 2011. Learn more: www.fwbgo.com.