The Value of Systematic Giving
When I first visited the central African country of Chad many years ago, church leaders told me I was the first person from the General Conference to ever visit them. They said it made them feel they weren’t forgotten.
Back then I didn’t know much about the country, but I knew it was poor. Not just uncomfortably poor, but how-are-we-going-to-survive-tomorrow poor. There were more than 7 million people living in Chad (today 13 million)—most of whom had never heard the name of Jesus or knew little about Him. More than 80 percent of the population were existing below the poverty line and life expectancy was less than 48 years of age.
It’s probably a reasonable assumption that, even today, the average Seventh-day Adventist doesn’t give much thought to Chad, or the church in Chad. Many would probably have trouble finding it on a world map. And yet I discovered there was an Adventist mission office in the capital, N’djamena, and throughout the country nearly 1,500 baptized Adventists, 50 Adventist churches and companies, schools, and even a hospital. And a large group of Global Mission Pioneers were ‘planting’ new groups of believers.
Of course, like the rest of the community, Adventist in Chad are desperately poor. There were only two ordained pastors in the country, and only one had any means of transportation. The secretary-treasurer of the mission didn’t even own a bicycle. But the church was alive and functioning. They had programs and projects. They were reaching out to their community.
I got to thinking about the old expression “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Today in the church some wheels squeak loudly and with great skill. And often the ‘big-wheel’ organizations that have the most interesting pictures, the most compelling video, the most heart-touching stories, get the big donations—“the grease.”
I don’t want to downplay the importance of project giving. It does a lot of good, and the church’s Global Mission initiative to plant new congregations relies on it. But what do we do about those parts of the world, and those people groups, that can’t or don’t “squeak?” Those who have no way to share heart-gripping pictures and stories with us?
The church’s system of tithes and mission offerings helps ensure that areas such as Chad, which may not seem as “glamorous” or have high visibility, receive help.
Every time you give your tithes and mission offerings, you’re helping make sure wheels that can’t squeak get attention. You’re supporting thousands of Global Mission Pioneers. You’re helping fund hundreds of missionaries such as Cristy Shank, a young doctor working at Malamulo Hospital in Malawi. You’re helping to feed and clothe poor people you’ll never meet. You’re helping to plant new congregations in the world’s large cities. You’re supporting the gospel going into “all the world.” We’re thankful for the thousands of specific projects to which Adventists donate. But none of these projects would get too far if it weren’t for a much wider and bigger system, which provides the foundation for ongoing support.
Every time you give your tithes and mission offerings, you’re helping support schools, hospitals, humanitarian work, media outreach, publishing, church planting and so much more. You’re helping the church grow in areas where many church members earn less than a dollar a day.
You’re making sure that the wheels that can’t squeak still keep turning.
Gary was born in Fiji to Australian missionary parents, Gary Krause directs the Office of Adventist Mission (www.AdventistMission.org). He and his wife, Bettina, are proud parents of eight-year-old Bethany. Gary has written hundreds of published articles and the book, God’s Great Missionaries. He’s currently working on a doctorate looking at wholistic urban ministry.
This article, written by Garry Krause, Office of Adventist Mission, was previously published in the Dynamic Steward magazine, Vol. 18, No. 2, Apr-Jun, 2014, p.15.