EveryOne:Reaching Farther Together
stories of the world missions offering
Men, Women, and Children making a difference through the World Missions Offering.
Learn more about your part in International Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.
Stories. We all love stories. From the time our parents tucked us in at night with “Once upon a time…” to the myriad of human-interest stories presented daily, stories capture our attention and fill our imaginations. Our Lord understands our penchant for stories. As we travel the pages of the Old Testament, we encounter story after story of God’s might and majesty as He worked in the lives of His people. The Master Teacher sprinkled His messages with stories to help listeners understand hard subjects.
What follows are stories: stories of children, church leaders, grandparents, and pastors. The common thread running through each of them is the World Missions Offering (WMO). As you enjoy each one, allow God to challenge you. Isn’t that what a good story does?
Lane and Grandma
After school each afternoon, little Lane Ward stays with his grandparents, Howard and Willa Ward, faithful members of Peace FWB Church in Florence, South Carolina.
One afternoon last year, the first-grader saw his grandparents rolling their change. Curious, he asked, “What are you going to do with all that money?” They explained they were giving it to the upcoming World Missions Offering at church.
“What can I do to raise money?” Lane questioned. He and his grandma decided to find aluminum cans and recycle them for cash. Grandma and Lane began an enthusiastic hunt. They looked everywhere for cans, even retrieving them from the side of the road. When it came time for the WMO in April 2008, they had raised $60.
But did they stop? Oh no! They are still at it, and have already raised over $300 for this year’s offering. To top it off, the now seven-year-old Lane asked Jesus to come into his heart while at home with his parents on a Sunday afternoon earlier this year.
Just Give 'Em One
One June evening I found our missionaries and the WMO weighing on my mind and went to bed with a heavy heart. I awakened around 3:30 a.m. with the missionaries on my mind. I couldn’t let it go and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I arose to read and pray. I told God that if He could do something with a preacher from Davis, North Carolina, I would do whatever He wanted. God put four words in my mind—Just Give ’Em One.
I started writing things down. I mulled over what God might mean by that phrase. He seemed to say, “Give the missionaries one of your paychecks.” I thought of the missionaries again asking myself if they are worth it. Yes, they are! So, I eagerly responded with a “Yes, Lord.” By giving a paycheck to the WMO, I help all international missionaries, and this thrills my heart.
God further impressed me with the urge to challenge my church family to also give up one paycheck. I jotted a list of church families. I added a modest number by each name and the total offering was staggering. I wondered, “What if other Free Will Baptist churches did this? What if all Free Will Baptists across the United States did the same thing?” I am confident money problems would not exist for any of our missionaries.
I told God I would be willing to do what He wanted me to with these thoughts. I shared the idea with my church family at Davis on Wednesday night. God compelled me to share it with the rest of my church family the next Sunday morning. At the end of the service, we met around the altar, and I asked each person who thought they could support this idea to raise his hand. I don’t recall a single person without a raised hand.
I’ve shared this idea with a few others and received good responses. My wife Meresa designed a PowerPoint™ program so I could share this idea with others.
At the national convention in Charleston, West Virginia, my wife and I shared it with Henry Van Kluyve and his wife Virginia. James Forlines also came by, and we shared the idea with him. I haven’t forgotten their responses: “Jimmy, I’m blown away” and “I’m overwhelmed.” I was encouraged by their reactions and pray that God will use this idea to reach those in our FWB churches who don’t give to missions.
Little Is Much
“Little is much, when God is in it” never seemed more real than when I read results from the first coin bank collection for International Missions. Who could have imagined such a great response and return based solely on collecting spare change? What amazes me even more is that results continue to grow each year as more and more people realize how easy and simple this program really is. It is something everyone from children’s church through the senior adult classes can participate in, and God uses our “little” to accomplish “much.”
A few years ago, Barry Simpson spoke at our church and made a statement that changed my thinking and challenged my heart. In short, he said something to the effect of, “Imagine if every Free Will Baptist gave to the International Missions offering the amount of their average monthly cell phone bill.” In my head, I began calculating numbers and was astounded. I stood up to conclude the service and said, “My wife and I will take that challenge! I want to challenge each of you in this congregation to take this challenge as well.” Little did I know what a difference it would make in our World Missions Offering.
A sign-up sheet was posted with the simple heading, “Minutes for Missions.” One by one, families took the challenge. When all was said and done, we raised over $560 with our coin banks and another $1,093.14 with our cell phone challenge—nearly doubling our offering from the previous year! While this may not be one of the mega-gifts that often grabs our attention, it was ordinary people faithfully doing their part to fulfill the Great Commission. Each year our program has gained a little momentum. I thank God that He uses the ordinary, small, and—by the world’s standards—even insignificant people and gifts to accomplish the great!
Peace can aptly be described as a missions-minded church. We have several thousand dollars in our monthly church budget for missions, but we wanted to do something special for the WMO in 2008. As a church, we regularly participate in the World Missions Offering, but this year we hoped to do something more.
At the first deacon’s meeting of 2008, I told our men I wanted to challenge our people to give $10,000 for the WMO—over and above our regular outside giving. We had experienced some tough years, and that was a pretty substantial goal for us. I told the deacons I was not going to challenge the church family to give, unless we as leaders were committed to give. I asked them to pray over the next month and announced I would pass out paper at the next meeting so they could write down the amount they would commit to give to the WMO. I also told them that if it was not enough, I would pass out more paper! We laughed and left.
The next month, I waited until the end of our meeting to pass out the paper. They wrote down their figures, and passed them to one of our deacons. I asked the deacon to add them up and show me the total. I began to cry and simply said, “That’s enough; let’s go home.”
With our commitments secured, I shared a challenge of $10,000 to the church family. For weeks we prayed and then staked out a simple plan. On April 13, Tim and Kristi Johnson and Jerry and Barbara Gibbs spoke to our church family. The ladies in our church planned an amazing missions banquet for Saturday evening. On Sunday, the children in our church presented large foam-core board checks totaling $5,000.
On Sunday, April 27, 2008, early in the service, our church family brought their coin banks and placed them on the altar. Ushers piled them on carts and took the banks to count during the service. They only counted the checks and bills that Sunday; there was not time to count the change.
At the end of the service, we watched the big screen at the front of the sanctuary. One of our men had developed a presentation to reveal the amount of the offering. After summarizing our efforts in planning for the WMO, a ticker or counter began flashing dollar amounts on the screen. One thousand. Two thousand. Three thousand. When the ticker reached $9,000, the count was delivered in hundreds, then later in ones at lightning speed building suspense. When the ticker finally stopped, the figure was over $16,000! A fireworks display burst on the screen. Throughout the congregation there were shouts and tears!
Since I believed we would reach our goal, I requested James Forlines send a DVD thanking our church for the offering we had just received. Seeing the general director of International Missions and hearing him give a word of thanks and praise to the Lord proved a great encouragement to our church family. To us at Peace, he never looked and sounded better.
Last year I responded to the WMO coin bank promotion and placed an order for the coin banks. When I received the banks, I took them to the Turning Point Church and challenged our teachers to take time with the children to explain missions and help them assemble the banks. It was a blessing to see the kids walking around between services with their coin banks. My six-year-old daughter Hannah came from children’s church with her coin bank. She held it tightly but didn’t make any comment about missions or the banks.
After lunch, we were standing around the kitchen table when Hannah entered with her coin bank and one of her piggy banks. Hannah said, “Dad, I want to take all of my change and put it in the WMO coin bank.”
I asked, “Do you understand what this money goes toward?” She said, “Yes, missions.” I then asked, “Do you know what missionaries do?” Hannah responded, “No,” so I told her that the money in the coin banks would go to ministers all over the world to assist them in telling others about our Lord Jesus Christ. Hannah abruptly left the room and returned with a second piggy bank. She said, “Dad, can you break this bank open too? I want to give all I have so others across the world can hear about Jesus.”
As selfish as children can sometimes be, Hannah showed not one selfish bone in her petite body as she gave all her change and broke open two personal piggy banks. She gave all because, at six years old, she saw a need for missions around the world.
My heart swelled with joy and yes, I have to admit it, some pride as I thought, “What could we do on the mission fields if more people had hearts like Hannah.”
WMO—The Continuing Story
The story of the WMO over the last three years should cause every Free Will Baptist to rejoice. God honors the work of His people, and He can and will use us, if we’ll allow Him. A growing number of churches are embracing the WMO as a means to touch men, women, and children who have never heard the gospel. Increasingly, pastors are planning their spring calendars to focus attention on ends of the earth ministry.
A growing number of churches now understand the significance of the WMO and its vital place in Mission leadership’s strategy to plant more churches overseas. It simply cannot be overstated. The size of the WMO directly impacts our ability to send missionaries. As the little boy in the Change the World Coin Bank video says, “When you give to the coin bank (WMO), people hear about Jesus; it’s that simple.”
About the Writers:
Grandma and Lane, by Trudy Miles, pastor’s wife, Peace FWB Church, Florence, SC.
Just Give ‘Em One, by Jimmy Mercer, pastor of Davis FWB Church, Davis, NC.
Little is Much, by Joe Beckon pastor of First FWB Church, Vernon, AL.
Miles More, by Donnie Miles, pastor of Peace FWB Church, Florence, SC.
Hannah’s Gift, by Todd Black, Hannah’s dad and pastor of Turning Point FWB Church, Spartanburg, SC.