Do you feel a deep desire to give back to God because He has given so much to you? Flowing from the realization that all good gifts come from God, your acts of thanksgiving bring the gift of salvation to others.
Often these donations of God-given resources fall into categories. Here is a roll call of the categories we hear about from our donors most often.
“A little extra.” This is what remains after normal family budgets and expenses have all been accounted for. Sure, donors can always find other uses for it—dining out, new clothes, remodeling projects—but many have chosen to send some of these funds to support the work in frontier areas, often making this a regular monthly practice.
“Freed up money.” When budgets are tight, but donors are committed to supporting missionaries anyway, then they have to free up money somehow, often by cutting expenses. Surprisingly, this appears to be a fairly common practice. Some donors have moved to cheaper housing, while others have turned the furnace down a few degrees. Dale met one particular donor who was so keen on cutting money from his budget to send to the mission field that he never furnished his house. He said he simply didn’t need all the extra furniture. He would rather send his money to support missions.
“Sacrificial money.” This is similar to freed-up money. But the difference is that when you cut it out of the budget, it hurts. Due to the inconvenience and hardship this type of sacrifice creates, it’s not something people tend to do regularly. But many decided to do it just long enough to help with missionary emergencies or special projects. This kind of giving may mean there are no presents under the Christmas tree one year, the family stays home for vacation, or they eat oatmeal for breakfast for a month. Donors who give sacrificially are usually pretty excited about it and want it to go for projects they have special interest in—causes they feel are worth the temporary pain. When Susan lived in Papua New Guinea, the people gave food from their gardens to support her as “their” missionary. Such heartfelt gifts from those who have so little!
“Surprise money.” These are funds that arrive unexpectedly. They may come through inheritance, or somebody might walk up and ask if you’d be willing to sell that old boat in your back yard. If you put your house up for sale and ask $190,000 but a bidding war raises the offer to $200,000, the extra $10,000 is surprise money. If a mechanic quotes you $350 to fix your car but manages to resolve the problem for only $200, the balance could also be considered surprise money even though it’s a savings rather than an income, because you weren’t expecting it.
Multiple donors recently told us that for many years they longed to give more to missions. When some surprise money showed up, they knew this was their chance, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and they jumped on it.
When Dale was still working as an AFM missionary in Papua New Guinea, the project needed to purchase a large printer, but it was way out of their budget. He writes, “At the same time I was wondering how we would fund this printer, a donor received some surprise money and immediately wondered if God had given it to her for a specific reason. She prayed about it and was impressed to give me a call. She asked what I was working on and cautiously explored what expenses might be involved. When she heard about the printer, she asked how much it would cost. I told her, and she started crying, overcome with gratitude that God had chosen her to fill this specific need. Being trusted by God and living up to that trust meant a lot to her. We got our printer, and through it, our evangelistic materials.”
“Investment offering.” The idea behind this kind of offering is that the profits of certain income-generating activities are dedicated to God at the front end of the venture, and He is invited to take part. So God now has the opportunity to greatly bless the project and provide more income than what would normally be expected. This could involve anything from baking to quilt making to starting a business. Children can learn about investing by investing their labors—making granola for the family (for a price), planting a market garden, or doing odd jobs, then watching the mission jar fill up with cash.
Another donor recently shared with Dale that she consistently spent a certain amount on her monthly groceries. She and her husband had already put monthly donations for a missionary family in their budget, but she wanted to do more. So she told God that if He would guide her grocery spending, she would give him everything she saved from her monthly food budget. Surprisingly, though she set aside the same amount of money for food as before, and she shopped the same and the family ate the same, she somehow managed to save about $1,000 over that following year. Since she had never had leftover money before, it seemed obvious to her that God had accepted her offer and was working with her. This kind of offering is fun to give because you get to see God’s hand in it.
“Dedicated offerings.” The concept here is to dedicate something to God and then seek out a missionary who needs that item, or sell the item and give the proceeds. This could be an old tractor, a horse, a piece of land, a vehicle, a house, a guitar, a coin collection or just a garage full of stuff.
There are so many creative possibilities for Christians from all walks of life, and with varying capacities to give, to find a way not only to work for God, but to work with Him to reach the unreached. When we care enough to go out of our way to help God’s people, that means something to Him. It really does.
As you read this article, you are probably thinking about what categories your funds come from, whether it’s one mentioned here or something different. If you feel inspired to share your own idea, email email@example.com or write to AFM Western Region, PO Box 102, Goldendale, WA 98620.
Others of you are probably reading this article and wondering how you might be more actively involved in working with God in the support of His missionaries and the work among unreached people. You may have an offering you would like to dedicate, an investment idea, or you may be wondering how you might simplify your life to make more room for monthly giving. Talk to God about it and ask Him to guide you. If He guides you to AFM, and you would like to discuss your idea with Susan in our development department, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-937-4236, ext. 119.
May you forever experience the joy that comes from working with God in what He cares the most about—saving the lost.