September 30 is just one of the significant days in our mission life. It is the day that the literal ‘buck stops here.’ Our mission organization’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. It’s on this day that every dollar or rand donated toward our ministry stops being applied toward one fiscal year and our support account subtracts to zero. We start all over again on October 1.
If there is any surplus in the account it is applied towards our team’s ministry budget in South Africa. These funds are no longer considered “Witherow donations.” Rather this surplus is reclassified for OC Africa ministry use.
I am grateful to my God and to our generous supporters over the past 7 ½ years of full-time mission life, that we have ended each ministry year in the black. In fact, John and I are humbled by this amazing gift of God’s grace.
Since beginning this mission journey, I have grown in wonder, amazement and gratitude of how gracious our God is to our family through the care and support of our financial supporters. There is no doubt in my mind that we are on South African soil and ministering in southern Africa because of our God and the thousands of gifts that have been given in His name on our behalf over the years.
Financial matters are one of those sensitive subjects that cause a degree of discomfort and consternation when anyone comes too close to telling us what to do with our money.
What I have come to understand over the years since becoming a full-time missionary is that I no longer call money, “mine” or “ours.” I confess I want to sometimes. However, every dollar or rand that is donated has already been allocated for something in our ministry budget. Our family living expenses are included in this amount of course. However, the bulk of the donations are applied to our ministry work here. As a result, this money in my mind represents the gift of our God. It’s His money.
I have finally arrived in the New Testament in my trust word study.
Interestingly, Jesus addressed the issue of financial matters in Luke 16 and a new definition of trust has emerged. In this case, trust come from the Greek transliterated word Pistos. Pistos describes a person who is faithful in business transactions and who can be relied upon to manage what he has been entrusted. In addition, pistos describes a person who has been persuaded to believe in the promises of God; namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and has determined to place his trust in Him.
Earlier in Luke 16, Jesus shared the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. Then Jesus follows up the short financial story with these words focusing upon the issue of trust; pistos…
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:11-13 NIV
Yes, Jesus is talking about money here. However, He is also talking about something that this money represents. Jesus wants His listeners to understand that being faithful and trustworthy in this life determines our future rewards in the Kingdom of God. This is not about earning a reward, though. This is about being generous with what we have been given in order to bless those in our sphere of influence. By caring for the needs of others in some tangible way, our gifts have eternal significance. This eternal investment could in fact lead to the salvation of others; whether we know it at the time or not!
How we use the gifts He bestows us on earth makes a difference for eternity, a Kingdom difference…
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25: 34-36 NIV
This is why our family is so grateful and so indebted to our God and to our financial supporters. Our friends and family and supporting churches have determined to give gifts towards the Kingdom of God so that we can in turn minister, love and encourage the people of southern Africa. The majority of our financial supporters will never meet the preschool teachers, the children, the pastors, the youth leaders and even the beggars who come to our gate each week who have all benefited by their eternal investment in our ministry. Our friends and family do not give because they want to earn something. They are giving because they love their God and they love us. They trust us to use each gift well in honor of their God.
How thankful we are for the Kingdom riches we have been given to minister in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Another September 30 has come and gone. It’s October. We begin again to be entrusted with the financial gifts that are sent for another ministry year. May we continue to be faithful to our Heavenly Father as we serve here in southern Africa and represent those who have sent us. Thank you!