I have a confession.
When I first became a missionary, I did not really understand how it was possible for me to give offerings. After all, all of the money that allowed me to be here in London was from an offering. How do you give an offering out of an offering? Is that even fair to the people who support me?
I understood that I had to tithe, but when God asked me to give money to others, sometimes I thought He was crazy. Even as I obeyed, I thought He was crazy. How can a person who has no money give money to somebody else?
I needed to grow a lot in my faith. And in my obedience.
I remember now the widow who put all of her money in the offering at the temple, and I remember Jesus' response to her sacrifice (Mark 12:44). He said that she put more into the treasury than all of the rich men, because she gave all that she had. What must that have been like for her, to give everything that she had, even her money for food?
My teammates and I have talked about this quite a bit recently, because we are trying to raise $3,000 each for our team outreach to Argentina in March. However, God keeps leading us to give offerings out of the money that we would otherwise save for Argentina. It seems counter-intuitive to give out of what we are trying to save to also do God's work, but God keeps asking us to give.
All of the money in the world is under God's control; I am just a steward of the bit of it that comes through my hands. So of course God can ask me to give offerings. He could even ask me to give up all of my money. It is hard for me, with my Western mentality of earning what I spend, to comprehend that. My parents raised me to be responsible with my money, to only spend what I had, and even to save money. It has been quite a task for God to undo some of my requirements about money and to change my heart into a heart that is willing to give an offering, even when it is the last money in my wallet, as it sometimes is. But the truth is, that money is not my money. It is a gift from God. And if it is God's plan to use it to bless somebody else, then I am just lucky to be the one who gets to do the blessing.
And after all of this time, I can finally say that it is a blessing. God is teaching me a lot about depending on Him, not only for direction, a ministry, and putting down roots in London, but also about depending on Him for the money that comes into my hands and the money that goes back out.
How many times have I been the recipient of that offering? How many times have I been the one blessed by somebody sacrificing their weekly Starbucks coffee, or their new cabinets in their house?
Just this week, I found out that my church back in the States is giving me a monthly offering of $100, which is 1/6 of what I need to live here every month. That money comes from the offerings of the people in that church, and they are faithful to God, who in turn provides for me. It is also one of the only monthly offerings that I receive, and I am so thankful for God's provision.
As the holidays draw closer, it is time for me to think about what I want to give as an end-of-the-year gift. It is something that my parents do every year, and it is something that I want to do, as well. They close out the year by giving an offering to a ministry of their choice, which in the past has been church ministries or individuals that God laid on their hearts. I do not have much money this month, but I trust that God will be faithful with the offering that I am going to give. I also trust that what He leads me to give will be exactly what is needed. God's funny that way - He already knows exactly what is needed, and I'm willing to bet that He's going to tell me what it is.
I am so thankful that God moved in my heart to show me the blessings that come with being faithful to give as He leads, even when I don't understand. I am also thankful that God provided for me for another year here. There were times when I had no idea how I was going to pay for plane tickets back to London from outreach, or how I would make rent, but God showed up every single time. That is a real Christmas miracle.
And if God moves in your heart to share with me this season, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and my mother will help you, or you can send a donation directly to me at paypal.com by sending it to email@example.com and putting my name in the subject line.