Nazarene mission workers in undisclosed areas shared the following stories with Engage magazine recently. Names have been changed and locations omitted for security purposes.
The miracle building
Last year Rev. Pat’s* church was shut down. For more than 20 years it had been in this middle class neighborhood, as a house that was a church. The community situation had grown tense, and neighborhood leaders successfully got the attention of people with power. The resulting decision was that the house could no longer be used for worship. Immediately there was a problem: Where was this congregation going to meet?
The congregation located a store front they could rent. That worked well for several months. It was fixed up to fit their needs, but in the end it was not a permanent fix.
They found another location, a restaurant where the owner was glad to let them rent for a few hours on Sundays. A few months ago the restaurant was sold, but there was a standing agreement that after it was sold the migrating congregation would be able to continue using the facility. But one month ago final notice was given. This coming Sunday would be their last day to worship at this third location.
What to do? The pastor didn’t know. But he trusted God to work His will.
Toward the end of the week, a believer from another denomination heard about Rev. Pat’s story -- not even from Rev. Pat. This man called up Rev. Pat and offered him a new location for the congregation to meet, just in time for the coming Sunday which was now only two days away. He didn’t offer one location, but two. He didn’t offer a good deal on the rent, he offered the use of either location for free. All that remained was to choose the location that best fit their needs.
Mr. Pat’s commentary was simple: We do what we can do; the rest is up to Jesus. Once again, God’s faithfulness is proven true.
Proving the tithe promise
Rev. Kerry* has pastored a small church for seven years. The church's inner city neighborhood is a simple place where people work hard to live from day to day. It has been no different for Rev. Kerry. He tells many stories of how God provided just what he needed at just the time he was in great need.
Two months ago his family faced a complete lack of money. Not even a few cents were in his pocket, not even a grain of rice in the house. The next day three college students would be coming to stay at his house to lead and take part in the church’s weekend activities. He had no way to feed them.
The next morning Rev. Kerry’s family awoke and didn’t eat breakfast, because they had nothing to eat. But they prayed together and asked God to send them food for the guests that would soon arrive. At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, their was a knock on the door. Behind the door a delivery man stood asking for Rev. Kerry. He had $30 in his hand; someone had sent it to Rev. Kerry’s family.
Besides just Rev. Kerry and his wife tithing, Rev. Kerry teaches his 11- and 12-year-old sons to pray and depend on God—and tithe their lunch money. His church people are watching his example and are starting to respond. They see God’s faithfulness when a person places his or her trust in God for the daily needs of life. Selling barbecued corn and icy fruit and small bottles of gasoline -- and sharing good news -- Rev. Kerry continues to be a light bearer in his neighborhood. He says that he would never want to have any other profession. The blessings and joy he experiences as a minister are abundant.
*Names changed for security purposes.
Talk about it
1. Have you ever been in a seemingly impossible situation? If so, how did it happen?
2. Did you trust God with that situation? If so, what was the outcome?
3. Do you find it hard or easy to trust God? With little things as well as big things?
4. If you woke up one day and had absolutely nothing to eat, what would you do?
5. How does tithing play a role in this story?
6. What does that say to you about the connection between tithing and God's provision?
7. What are some Scriptural promises that God will provide for all the needs of His children?
8. How can you pray for your brothers and sisters who live out their faith in difficult or hostile environments?