Acts of generosity are consistent with Scriptural living. The Bible gives us direction on this matter. In the Old Testament contributions were made to support the poor and in the New Testament the needy saints of the church.
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 gives us the basic principle behind contributions. As God’s people, we are not to be tight-fisted, but rather offer aid to others with open hands. Leviticus 19:9-10 and 23:22 exhort the people of God to leave some of their harvest for the poor and the foreigner. Psalm 37:21, 26 calls upon the righteous person to give generously.
Generosity by the Christian is a reflection of discipleship, a subject addressed by Jesus in Matt. 12:33. First Corinthians 16:1-3 speaks of a collection Paul took to aid the needy in the Jewish Christian church in Palestine. Chapters 8 and 9 of Second Corinthians details another collection Paul made. Second Corinthians 8:1-2 notes how such giving allows us to share in a work of grace, allowing us to live out a grace that was extended to us by God when He sent His Son to die for our sins.
A more current example of this was beautifully displayed with great power – and creativity – by the congregation of Second Baptist Church Springfield. The church recently held a Global Missions Conference. As part of the event the church highlighted the work of Baptist Global Response (BGR). Created in 2006, BGR assists with international relief efforts by partnering with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). While not an official entity of the SBC, Nashville, Tenn.-based BGR works with – and depends on – the generosity of Southern Baptists so BGR can better respond to acute and chronic needs of people as it helps coordinate worldwide relief and development efforts.
Through the leadership of Pastor John Marshall, who is also president of the Missouri Baptist Convention, and Missions Pastor John Edie, the idea to help BGR was to encourage Second Baptist members to get involved with BGR’s mission. Using BGR’s gift catalog, the church made a brochure promoting individual and group giving. They promoted the event months in advance so that individuals and small groups would give in a personalized way to help some needy person in a foreign land. For example, a group would give $1,000 to provide a water system, a children’s group could give $25 to provide a water filter for an overseas family. A goat could be purchased for $50 or 20 chickens for $15.
A Sunday night was set aside for the BGR service. Marshall interviewed BGR Executive Director Jeff Palmer, who then shared BGR’s mission with the church. Following Palmer’s presentation, something unusual happened that powerfully demonstrated Second Baptists’ long-held commitment to missions and generous giving to help others around the world.
Animals were brought into the sanctuary representing what the members’ donations would go for. Chickens, rabbits, a cow and a goat were brought to the stage. It could have passed for Noah’s ark, except there was so much more. Sewing machines, water filters, blankets and mosquito nets to protect people from malaria were brought down the aisles. Then children came with their coin offerings, money that had taken them months to collect. Sunday School classes, other small groups and individuals came forward to microphones scattered throughout the sanctuary and told what they were going to do. According to Palmer in his report at the BGR’s web site, people pledged to sponsor a water system, while some classes said they would buy one of everything. Families vowed to purchase goats, cows and chickens. By the end of the service, members at Second Baptist gave about $65,000 to help with overseas needs through BGR.
“The whole evening was overwhelming,” Palmer reported in his article. Such acts of generosity are consistent with Christian living and bring honor and glory to God. May Second Baptists’ generous act of love inspire all of us to give generously and joyously to anyone in need.