Robin J Johnson
To protect the integrity of this edition and its author, please note that there is some self-interest presented in this article.
When I think about giving there is always one story that springs to mind and which has always inspired me. It’s about people who could have used every excuse not to participate, but instead they committed themselves to making a contribution that became an example to those around them and an act of obedience inspiring generations down through the ages.
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
Do people and churches like this still exist? Yes they do! From time to time during my travels I have meet them and been challenged by their tenacity and levels of generosity. There is a grace of giving that releases a level of joy and victory like nothing else can.
The ongoing challenge for us, and everyone involved in missionary work, is the constant need for sufficient finance to sustain the present level of activity and to see the work further grow. This is a daily reality and one that is with us moment by moment. For some it is more urgent than others, but nevertheless, we all live with the pressure and concern of where will the next dollar come from and will it be enough.
You may have either read the stories and/or heard the testimonies of how God supernaturally supplied the need for a particular person. Do I believe this? Yes, of course I do, for in times we too have experienced such supernatural interventions. Nevertheless, even in those moments, it is not so much about a bag of money falling from the sky, but about a person being willing to be the vehicle through which God supplies.
A number of years ago I was in a particular S E Asia nation and preparing to speak at a three day church planting school. We had raised the airfares and some extra money to contribute to the costs of the school. When I arrived I asked the organizer how much they needed for the school. He said that they needed two thousand dollars. My heart sunk! I only had one thousand. They gratefully accepted my portion and said, “We will believe God for the rest.”
I was really quite upset that I couldn’t provide all of what was needed. Though they had not put an expectation on me, I still felt responsible. I went before the Lord and boldly said to Him, “I want the balance of this money before I leave the nation. I want to bless them and be the one to provide for this school.”
There was no one there I could turn to for help and there was no Internet at that time to send out an urgent appeal. I was alone and solely relying on a bag of cash to drop from heaven, so to speak, or a stranger to appear and hand me a bag of money or by some other messenger which the Lord wanted to use to deliver it.
Before departing the hotel I was staying in to go to the school, I met a man and his wife who were visiting from the US and briefly spoke with them. They asked me what I was doing there and after I gave them a quick explanation, they wished me well and went on their way.
After I returned to the same hotel, three days later, I met the couple again. The man said to me, “Brother, I’m so sorry we haven’t spent more time with you as you are here alone.” I said that it was okay and explained I was used to being by myself.
He said, “Yes I understand. But the Lord has convicted me and I should have listened to Him more carefully. Please tell me brother, is there anything I can do to help you?”
I said, “no,” and thanked him for his kindness. We then departed to our respective rooms, but not before agreeing to meet up later for a time of prayer. When I got to my room it was my turn to be rebuked by the Lord. He said to me that I had told the man that I had no needs when that was not true.
You see I was so focused on the bag of cash supernaturally appearing, from wherever, that I missed the vehicle God had chosen to supply it through. To be completely honest I felt awkward about having to ask a stranger for a thousand dollars, but now the Lord was certainly prompting me to tell him about my need.
Later that evening the man and his wife came to my room to pray and again he asked if there was something he could do to help me. So this time I asked him to pray for me as I was believing God for the balance of the money towards the expenses for the church planting school. He asked me how much I needed. When I told him he replied, “I have enough to cover that and I would honored if you will let me give it to you.” Thank you Jesus!
Was this a miracle? Yes! Did the Lord supply? Yes! And He did it the way He does most times; He used a person.
Partners in mission
This is the usual way for people to participate in and partner with the frontline workers to aid and empower them financially to do the work that the Lord has called them for. God’s resources have always flowed through His people. This is the way it has always been done.
Jesus had needs and people met those needs. Without doubt He could have sovereignly met his own needs, but He chose to allow people to serve in this manner.
And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. Luke 8:2-3
When Jesus needed transport (Luke 19:32-34). When Jesus need a room to eat with His disciples (Luke 22:10-12). When thousands needed to be fed, Jesus took a little, blessed it and provided for the multitude.
Though at times the apostle Paul worked to support himself and those around him, he also expected financial assistance for his missionary trips from partner churches.
I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 2 Corinthians 11:8
I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Romans 15:24
There is no right or wrong here, simply different seasons and different means, along with a determination to press on with serving Christ.
Enabled to give
Giving is not about how much or little we have, but it is about our willingness to give what we can. Our gifts help support those serving Christ who are often in difficult and challenging places where they are delivering a message of hope to the multitudes and to those still waiting to hear the Good News for the first time.
When Paul wrote to Titus his instructions included the support of travelling ministries and his exhortation to believers was to find good jobs so that they could help support the work of God.
Do your utmost to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they want for (lack) nothing. And let our own [people really] learn to apply themselves to good deeds (to honest labor and honorable employment), so that they may be able to meet necessary demands whenever the occasion may require and not be living idle and uncultivated and unfruitful lives. Titus 3:13-14 (AMP Bible)
An exciting joint venture
Not everyone is able, can or will go, but everyone can certainly participate in world missions. This is not just about handing over some money, but partnering in the work of God; helping support those who have heard the call to go. Even staying in the comfort of your own home you can make a significant difference in the lives of others and share the responsibility for the spreading of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God throughout the nations. How could I do that, you may be asking. By helping send, support and partner with those who do go, then together we can all share in the eternal rewards.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15
A spirit of generosity
It is not about an obligation to give, but the thrill of participation in serving Christ. Every one of us loves to receive gifts. However, how thrilling it is when we realize that in giving there is so much more joy. Once you have crossed over you don’t want to go back.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
I often hear people talking about one day becoming rich and wealthy, but that is not the goal. Some years back when I was the lead pastor of our own church I remember one of my leaders, a businessman, share his unselfish and inspiring testimony. One Sunday morning he spoke and stated.
“I don’t want to be a millionaire. I want to be able to give away a million dollars.”
It was not about what he was planning to keep for himself. His vision to create and run a successful business was based on and driven by what he could give away. Right from the start he began to give and yes, he is well on the way to fulfilling his dream.
The love of giving
I give because I want to. Not because I’m compelled, not out of a sense of duty or some misguided threat of poverty if I don’t tithe (another subject for another day). But I give because I choose to. Neither do I want to give just enough. I want to be able to supply an abundance. My one desire from the very start; I want to be able to give more.
Whether you are giving to our ministry or another, may I encourage you to seek ways to give more. Without a doubt the Bible is clear and true. If we sow generously we also reap bountifully. In fact the promise is that you will receive back more than what you have given. You can enter in this joyous realm of giving and create a continual season of seedtime and harvest to the glory of God.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
A heartfelt thank you
When I consider the road before us, the tremendous needs we face everyday, personally and in this ministry, if it were not for my steadfast belief and knowledge that our God is faithful, I would have given up a long time ago. I also know that there are wonderful people partnering with us; those who are rich in grace in their generous giving, which enables us to serve as well as we do. For these gifts I do not have enough ways to say, “thank you”.
A simple “thank you” seems inadequate, but I know the yes and amen from the Father in heaven is much more meaningful and impacting, He is pleased with your sacrifice and generosity.
They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:18-19
Yes, we have come this far by His grace, and it is His grace that will see us through. Though I know it is people who the Lord uses, my trust is firmly in Him. My expectation is that it is God who supplies our every need, while I am also conscious that the gift will most likely come through someone. You can be that someone! (Details below)
We need partners to help support us; for our own living expenses, regular travel costs, ministry and conference costs (which we help with), support for teachers, rescue workers and children at risk. Your support can be a one-time gift or you may like to commit to an ongoing monthly contribution.
Your regular monthly contribution helps us plan better. Not only for our own personal expenses and ministry commitments, but also to know the level of support we can offer to our partners in SE Asia who look to us for help.
Special Note: Pastors and Mission Directors would you consider adding us into your missions budget? Please contact me to discuss this further. Thank you!
To continue or to start supporting our ministry to the nations you can give:
Online direct transfer – BSB 013 276 Account # 478557019