Kigunda Ndwiga, Stewardship Director
East Central Africa Division
Summary: This stewardship director for the East Central Africa Division talks about his call to and views on stewardship.
Kigundu, you have been elected as the new Stewardship Director of Eastern Africa Division,” was the news relayed by an ecstatic friend, Gideon Mutero that July 2000 morning. The unexpected call shook me to the core of my being. Overwhelmed with a sense of my inadequacy and inexperience, having only served as local conference stewardship director for only three and one-half months, I decided to abandon myself to God’s sufficient grace and accept the call.
My Call to and Views on Stewardship
Question: “Where did you begin?”
My answer: I began with a three-day prayer and fasting retreat seeking God’s vision and strength
Question: “What else did you do?”
My answer: I believe in seeking counsel from those with experience and wisdom. So, I approached Dr. Pardon K. Mwansa, currently one of the general vice-presidents of the General Conference, who had served as GC associate stewardship director and was the then president of EAD, an accomplished stewardship director in his own right and asked him, “What would you say is the secret of a successful stewardship ministry?”
Question: “What words of wisdom did he share with you?”
My answer: Elder Mwansa, who is skillful at painting mental pictures replied, “Feed the cow; enjoy the milk.” He told me that if I prayerfully pondered that adage, I would be successful in the stewardship ministry. He then prayed for me and gave me a picture of a cow.
Question: “What stewardship insights did you learn from the adage and the picture of a cow?”
My answer: Having grown up in rural Africa looking after cows, I was able to develop a stewardship philosophy which continues to influence my stewardship ministry to date. Time has just gone on to confirm the veracity of Elder Mwansa’s apt counsel. I am grateful for Elder Mwansa’s mentoring.
Question: “What is your stewardship philosophy now?”
My answer: One of the main reasons our stewardship endeavors do not bear much fruit is the fact that we focus on the milk and forget the cow. We may come up with fancy slogans and set tithe and offering goals to try to mobilize our members to be more faithful in giving, but unless we are willing to focus on improving the spirituality of our members, we will not succeed.
Faithfulness in stewardship is a fruit of authentic spirituality. If our members are to be faithful stewards, we must focus deliberately on helping our members plug into the power of the Holy Spirit who is the only source of authentic spirituality and challenge them to submit to the lordship of Jesus in all aspects of life.
To accomplish the above will involve a tremendous cost on our part. We must not only be content with going the second mile, but constrained by the love of Christ in our hearts for our members, we must be willing to go even ten miles if that is what it will take to assist members become faithful stewards.
Question: “What are some of the issues you try to address in your stewardship ministry?”
My Answer: The greatest challenge facing the church in Africa is that of being self-supporting and being able to finance the ministry of the church. Because of the perennial cry for finances, the focus of stewardship has been tilted towards money at the expense of wholistic biblical stewardship. However, I have discovered the more I lift up Jesus and His sacrifice, the finances we seek come flowing into the “storehouse.” If encountering Christ changed the money-loving egocentric Zaccheus into a generous cheerful giver, I believe the same Christ is the key to faithfulness in stewardship and the self-support that we so seek.
Question: “What formulates your stewardship strategy?”
My Answer: I believe before we formulate any strategy, we must understand the needs we are addressing. To address the issue of faithfulness, we must understand the reason for unfaithfulness. It seems to me people are unfaithful for the following reasons:
Some place their own priorities and values before the interests of Christ.
Some have had a little or no education in Christian stewardship principles.
Some have lost sight of the mission of their church.
Some feel the programs of the church are not worthy of their support and sacrifice.
Some have lost confidence in the way the church handles money.
Some have lost confidence in leadership they do not perceive as visionary for people give to visions, not to people or organization.
Some have real difficulty in managing their personal finances.
It is evident that to address the above reasons behind the unfaithfulness would require a multi-faceted approach to stewardship.
It is important also to underscore that, if there is going to be a revival of faithfulness in stewardship, it must happen at the local church. It is at the local church where all the resources come from. It is because of the mission of the local church that the church organization exists. What happens in our church organizations is a reflection of what happens at the local church because “the life of the body is in its cells. If the cells die, the body dies. If the cells are healthy, the body is healthy. When the cells multiply, the body grows.” Seventh-day Adventist Minister’s Handbook, p. 175.
Question: “So you believe that if the stewardship ministry deliberately focused on revitalizing stewardship at the local church, there would be a revival in faithfulness?”
My Answer: Yes, indeed.
Question: “What then must the local church stewardship strategy include?”
My Answer: I see four proven strategies that have personally worked for me in the local church. These strategies are geared towards raising the spiritual “temperature” in the local church, which is conducive for raising faithful stewards. These strategies are:
Leadership strategies which include: leadership commitment to stewardship, implementing spiritual leadership in the local church and using a team-work approach by establishing a stewardship and strategic plans committee.
Spiritual strategies which include spiritual disciplines like prayer, fellowship, witnessing, service, worship among others.
Education strategies which ensure that stewardship principles are taught systematically through all the venues and avenues available to the local church.
Financial strategies which include budgeting, internal controls and effective feedback to engender transparency hence build trust.
My prayer is that the Lord will make stewardship a local church movement where our members see the importance of stewardship and initiate stewardship education programs at the local church without waiting for directions from “above.” We believe this is what God wills because “The greatest help that can be given to our people is to teach them to work for God and depend on him, not on the ministers” (7T 19).