Shopping season is upon us. Here come the offers via email, web ads, and flyers. Restaurants and retailers want your money, churches and ministries as well, and without apology, I do, too.
Of all the great ministries in the world, I want you to give to our particular humble ministry to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. More than that, I desperately want you to give, but…I have two necessary conditions with a preferred third condition attached to my request. But before I tell you what they are, there is one thing to know about my request: it is that you understand that this is just a request, albeit a passionate one, but a request still.
Now here are the conditions. First, I would like you to give willingly, that is, not under compulsion, and secondly, I would like you to give cheerfully. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul tells the Corinthian church that “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.”
I never want to be accused of putting those infamous “guilt trips” on people. That would be compulsion. You are under no obligation to give to us. We are asking for gifts, not tithes. But I will always challenge you to consider giving to our cause. I may even challenge you to re-examine your budget and your discretionary spending habits. Here’s a challenge just for fun: find ten things sitting around your house that are collecting dust, put them in a pile, add up the approximate cost and think about what that could have done for the kingdom (Yes, I have done it myself, and I am embarrassed with the results — we’ll keep you posted on our next yard sale!). Here’s a challenging thought: How much designer coffee do we drink per week, per month, per year?
It is ultimately between you and the Lord what you should be doing with your money. You are the steward over the money God gave you, not me. All I can do is ask.
Thirdly, regular giving is what we are asking. Willingly, cheerfully, and regularly. We can’t get to the mission field unless we know that the funds will be there for at least for a four-year period. No amount is too small. One of our dearest supporters gives $5.00 per month — a true widow’s mite. You have no idea how encouraged we are because of her and her faithfulness. The Lord is teaching us something. Never be embarrassed for giving even a little.
Jesus tells us all that “we have not because we ask not” (Matt 7:7). We already asked Him; now we are asking you. Would you truly pray about giving willingly, cheerfully, and regularly so that we may plant a church in Cherokee, NC with the Cherokee people?
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. According to advertising gurus, I am supposed to fill this post with some really good pictures of things that will either inspire you or give you a warm fuzzy feeling to keep you interested in reading, and my word count should not exceed 300. So I will try (and fail) to meet those industry standards and hope you are smarter than a fifth grader and trust you will take some time to read on. If you don’t think you can persevere, jump down to the #ThePoint section below. [insert cute winking smiley face here]
According to our last count on Facebook, we have 603 friends. That means we either sent a friend request to you or we received one from you. Either way, I am glad we are friends. [insert lots of smiley faces in a row here]
I never really used FB much. It was mostly Regina who did all the liking and commenting. I saw many of the viral videos of flash-mobs singing in the mall and tear-jerking pics of cute animals. But over the last six months, I have come to understand the potential social media can have for the kingdom of God. Since March we have been posting about our new direction that the Lord has taken us. So we post, and post, and post, yet with limited response. But then I learned that only 20% of our posts ever get to our ‘Friends.’ I am not even sure what that statistic means. Does it mean that only 20 out of 100 posts get to all 603 friends, or does it mean that 100% of our posts get to 20% or our friends? [insert funny face that looks confused]
#Warning: By the time you finish reading this very long sentence, I will have reached my maximum word count of 300, and I will lose a significant amount of my reading friends to boredom. [insert sad smiley face]
But that is not all that bad, because I just got a FB notification that someone just ‘commented’ on one of Melissa Gill’s photos, which I must say are always beautiful. Behold…
Melissa’s inspiring and envy-inducing photo of her neighborhood in Alaska, which 56 of her friends ‘Like.’
Now to the point. As 20% of you may already know, we are going to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina to plant a church. We won’t have a worldwide ministry with books, conferences, alliances, and lots of free stuff, nor will we ever reach that level. Nor will there be trendy t-shirts with pictures of Calvin et al smoking a peace pipe with Geronimo and Sitting Bull and a cool Latin phrase signifying ‘Reformation on the Reservations.’ And for the last nail in our coffin, we probably won’t even have an app. Sorry. But we hope our church will raise up missionaries that will go through Native America both on and off the reservations and even throughout the world. Then maybe an app.
As missionaries we need to raise our support to get us there and keep us there. So far we are at about 28% of our goal. Many of our FB friends are already part of that number. For the rest, this is our plea to you:
Would you prayerfully consider pledging $12, $25, $50, $100, $200 per month for at least a four-year period?
If every one of our friends would pledge even at the lowest amount, we would be packing our bags tomorrow. No amount is too small. Really. But don’t wait for the other person to do it. We are depending on you. Churches only account for about 30% of a missionary’s budget. You are the 70%.
If you really have no money to give, you can still help us by connecting us with others who may have a desire to see the kingdom spread throughout the Native American reservations.
Go to the ant! Proverbs 6:6
Here’s some other things you could do:
Do you attend a Bible study with a mix of people from different churches? Tell them about what we are doing. We will send you some of our prayer cards.
Talk to your pastor.
Consider having a home gathering at your house with us to share our vision with your friends.
And here is the easiest thing you could do: Re-post our FB posts to your friends. Remember that dreaded 20% number.
On the upper right hand corner of the pages of this blog is a widget. Click it. It gives you updates whenever they happen. Re-post.
We can do more with Facebook and all social media than pour water on our heads and create flash mobs. Please pray about what you can do and act on it before another trendy viral post hits. [insert long string of happy faces with ice water being poured on them as they sing the Hallelujah chorus in a mall]
Truly and seriously, thank you for taking time to read this post and prayerfully considering joining our support team. If you decide to give, simply go to our Giving page. If you would rather call (as we prefer), our number is 407-416-1482 or 407-416-2348. We would love to talk with you.
I remember walking into a church voluntarily for the first time when I was twenty years old. It was a very snowy February morning in New England. At that time I was anxiously searching for significance as a bass player in a heavy metal band. My life was a wreck in every direction. After reading the Bible for about a week or so, I decided that I should go to church. So I put on my best Jimi Hendrix t-shirt and black skinny jeans and headed off to church in my girlfriend’s car. The snow came down fast and hard. Unable get up the long steep driveway, I just slid backwards off to the side, put the car in park, and trudged up the hill on foot.
Already late, I was cheerfully met by a man who eagerly introduced himself with a smile and handshake. “Hi, I’m Marc,” he said, “Welcome.” The congregation was already singing as Marc found me a seat. The music was robust, beautiful, and joyful. As I was getting my bearings in this foreign environment, I looked over to the man playing the piano singing with all his heart. He glanced over my way and give me a warm welcoming smile. He seemed to know what the wind just blew in.
When the singing concluded, the man at the piano made his way to the pulpit. To my surprise, he was the preacher, too. There was one very impressed bass player in the congregation that morning. This was my first introduction to Rev. Carl Guiney. I later would call him pastor.
Mission: Woonsocket, RI
I could write pages and pages on Pastor Guiney’s impact on my life, which I intend to do, but for now, I want to highlight his influence on me regarding missions. Pastor Guiney had a heart for missions and it was contagious. He planted that church where he wholly gave himself to until the day the Lord took him home. That was no small task in a small New England city chock full of Catholic churches. Fresh out of Bible college, he drove from Indiana and went to Woonsocket, RI. He took different jobs to support himself and held Bible studies until a nucleus was developed and a church was born. He didn’t apply and wait for a job as a pastor; he simply planted a church where one was desperately needed. He tied himself to the mast and committed himself to serving the people of Woonsocket.
Mission: Native America
At our church we didn’t have to wait for an annual missions conference to meet missionaries. Pastor Guiney had them coming through the church all the time. I was always excited to hear what the Lord was doing throughout the world. He had them speak either Sunday morning or evening services or Thursday night Bible study. One particular missionary really got my attention as he talked about life on an Indian reservation. His name was Joe – “Injun Joe” as his Native friends dubbed him. He was actually Italian, but his heart was for Native America. He awakened me to the need in Native America. I would love to be able to say that it was that night I decided to become a missionary to Native America – that would make a really great story – but that is not what happened. I can tell you that it was because of that particular missionary and Pastor Guiney’s passion for missions that I am a missionary today.
During those years, First Assembly of God in Woonsocket struggled to pay the mortgage, and sometimes even the pastor. Yet Pastor Guiney was committed to missions. Some churches would never think of giving only $25 a month to a missionary. How would that look? Always willing to give more, First Assembly was not too proud to give a little. Pastor Guiney was not concerned with appearances in that regard. He simply wanted the name of Jesus exalted among the nations.
To my Reformed brothers and sisters, yes, I ultimately left Assemblies of God to pursue my studies in Reformed theology. Leaving that church was one of the most painful decisions I ever made. I am a confessional Calvinist just as much as the the next guy, but I must confess that I am starting to feel a chill, only this time it is not coming from outside. Yet my heart is warmed when I think of the day when I was welcomed by Pastor Guiney’s smiling eyes (yes, he was Irish). I am grateful to the Lord for his life example of sacrifice and faithfulness. He taught me to endure and wait upon the Lord – a lesson I need to learn again and again.