By William Strickland
Each of the past three weeks I posted a blog about how Mission ONE partners to transform communities.
- We partner on strategic projects to help communities flourish and the church take root.
- We hold training events that change how people see the world.
- We provide relief in face of crisis.
People who hear about Mission ONE often ask, “How can I get involved?” Our standard answer is to pray, learn new skills, take a mission trip, or give. While praying, learning, or going are all important and helpful—in this post I want to focus on giving: The value of giving for the mission.
Sometimes Christians belittle giving. They see it as less spiritual or more impersonal than other acts of kindness. “We don’t want to just send a check. We don’t want our partnership to be centered around money.” Does this sound familiar?
Those who think this way have good intentions. However, a biblical view of giving towards missions shows us that giving is a spiritual act of community, compelled by love.
Giving as worship
My wife and I spent one summer as part of a mission team in Hungary; one of the young men on that team was a Hungarian believer named Marci. The home church of Marci in Debrecen was over 100 years old. That summer, the church in Debrecen sent Marci as their very first missionary in their long history. We had the honor of attending Marci’s church and talking with the pastor and church members. They felt such pride in their ability to send a missionary. As we prayed together, they thanked God for the gift of being able to provide for Marci as he served the Lord. I committed this to memory as a special moment in that church’s history. The people were worshiping God through giving towards his mission. They had a mission of ‘sending one of their own’ by giving for the mission.
Giving to participate in the church
A common mindset of westerners is to have a feeling of superiority relative to the Majority World—especially toward those in economic poverty. So when we westerners give to missions we commonly think: if we do not give, the work will not get done. That idea is often wrong. A healthier, more biblical view is that giving is a participation with the body of Christ.
During a trip this past May to East Africa, I witnessed this very thing—giving as a participation with the body of Christ. All of Mission ONE’s African partners gathered for a marriage retreat. During the retreat, a key leader from our indigenous partner in northern Kenya shared that she had fallen into debt by helping her neighbor obtain a loan that the neighbor did not pay back. The other African leaders heard her story and Immediately one of them suggested we take up an offering to cover her debts. After the offering was taken, her debt was more than covered.
The lesson I learned is this: If we think that we are giving because “they” cannot do it themselves, think again. We are joining with brothers and sister all around the world in giving to accomplish God’s Great Commission.
Giving compelled by love
Love compels giving. Love for the gospel, love for unreached peoples, and love for God directs how we use our gifts. My great Aunt Betty was the daughter of missionaries. Born in Honk Kong, China in 1920, Aunt Betty grew up knowing the love of God for her and for the nations.
When I decided to pursue a vocation in Christian missions, I called Aunt Betty to ask her advice. She gave me wise direction, prayed for me, and told me to let her know how she could give. Aunt Betty’s love for me and for God compelled her to adjust her lifestyle in her final years so that she could give to the people whom she cared about most. She was ninety-three years old and on a fixed income. Yet each month she mailed a check and a handwritten card of encouragement and prayers. Her support will remain some of the most valuable of any we will ever have.
When we give to organizations which steward our gifts well, we are being strategic and so much more. Like Aunt Betty, God calls us to join together with the total body of Christ, compelled by love to give as an act of worship—the same way Paul asked of the Corinthian church:
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also” (2 Corinthians 8:1–7).