Its natural at years-end to think back: to try and remember highlights, while reflecting upon meaningful events. This year I followed my thoughts back over the decades of active ministry. And so, pondering the amazing ways in which God has sustained our ministry, I was reminded about an early event that totally changed the way that I look at, and or measure God’s provision.
Soon after launching our Ministry, and struggling to survive financially – wondering how to afford life as missionaries – I was invited to speak at a missions conference in another State. After a week of meetings for this small, struggling church, I was not surprised when at the end of the week I got a $30 honorarium and a “God-bless-you” handshake! Nowhere close to even covering for my $450 airfare! Flying home, feeling cheated and dejected, I must admit not very happy. But all changed when shortly afterwards I received in the mail, the largest ministry gift we’ve ever received. And here’s the story!
Throughout that week of teaching on Mission, and the mandate to fulfill our God-given purpose to proclaim and spread the Gospel of the Kingdom, I noticed in the front row, every evening, a lady wrapped in a thick blanket, with a towel tightly wrapped around her head. It was mid summer! While obviously engaged and following my every word, she, nevertheless, came across disturbing, as she mumbled, verbally responding throughout. This amused me. But it also agitated me somewhat. However, I let it go, interpreting her to be either an eccentric, or perhaps someone of diminished mental capacity.
Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me. During the closing prayer time, I felt to reach out to her and pray with her. And that’s when I learned about Beth’s situation. She was a normal 25-year-old girl with Leukemia. Until recently a College student, she had to drop out when diagnosed. She was a new Christian, now knowing that her life was rapidly drawing to an end. And so, considering what to do with the time she had left, Beth decided to attend this mission’s conference. She hoped to learn whether perhaps God still had something for her to do in this life. After praying together, I left feeling guilty about how I had interpreted the whole situation.
Back home, a few days later, I received a letter. Taped to it a Quarter. The note read: “I was so touched by what you taught us. And I wish I could go. But I can’t! However, I can help support your efforts. I’m sorry it’s so little, but it’s all that I can afford right now.” Three more envelopes followed, for a total of one dollar over the next weeks. Then the letters stopped. However, a couple of months later I received a formal-looking envelope, postmarked: North Carolina. The letter was from an attorney. I couldn’t control my tears as I read.
“Dear sir, I am the attorney, appointed by the State to handle the estate of the late Miss Beth Misko. In passing she had left a simple Will, indicating that the entire contents of her estate be liquidated, and the full proceeds be donated to your organization. And so, having understood the need to publish and sell off her earthly belongings at auction, I am happy to include for you herewith the entire proceeds of the sale, in the amount of $5.76.” Overwhelmed, I realized that in my hands I held at that moment, the “largest gift” that we had ever received – someone’s entire earthly estate. I then understood that God would provide for us. And, today I can confirm that He has faithfully done so ever since!
Today, this story also reminds us what Christmas is about. God came to earth, and also was unrecognizable, even an affront to most. He was born in obscurity, rejected, misunderstood and then crucified. Yet, in leaving us His inheritance, the giving of His all, we have Hope and a Future. Because Christ was born, there is hope. Because Christ died, we have eternal life. His, by far is the greatest gift ever given. And all it takes to partake in that gift is to recognize Him for who He is, and enjoin our lives to His.
With warm Christmas greetings!
And so, we want to thank each one of you who so faithfully supported us through your contributions this past year. Your financial help enabled us to impact the lives of many. Likewise, it will be through the faithful gifts of God’s people reading this letter that we will be able to continue making a difference in 2020. May we therefore, ask you to prayerfully consider how you can bless this ministry through your special year-end contribution? With your help we can and commit to work even harder to see people saved, lives changed, orphans cared for, pastors trained, and the Church become more firmly implanted as God’s Redemptive force in Africa.
Will you then also be a co-bearer of Good Tidings this Season through your year-end sacrificial financial contribution to the ministry of AFnet?