The Giver and the Given
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
calls for us to give and be given.1
As I was waiting on the Lord this morning, I was reminded that He asked me to give up three major things during my senior year of high school.2 (That was 49 years ago, if anyone is counting.) Although each thing requested seemed large and costly at the time, none of the decisions to obey was difficult or required a protracted inner struggle, because Jesus was my Lord. The cost was counted, and each transaction was agreed to within seconds of the time the request came to my heart.
I wondered that all three of those requirements should be made of me so early in my Christian experience. I knew (at least in part back then) the reasons for the sacrifice of each thing. And, no, none of them were negatives in my life – far from it! All the things the Lord asked me to give Him were good, worthy, wholesome, positive things. David's words come to mind: “I will not give to the Lord that which cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
So why, then, was I required to give them up? I don't know all the answers even today, but something was made clear during my “listening time” with the Lord this morning: God is the Giver and (in the Persons of Christ and of the Holy Spirit), He is also the Given. Anyone whose desire is “to be conformed to the image of His Son,” to be made like Christ, has to allow God to mold him or her. Part of how He does that is to teach us how to give and how to be given.
Discipleship in Four Words: “Give and Be Given.”
Think about the mandates given to us as disciples of Jesus: Go into all the world. Die to self. Take up your cross. Be a bondslave. Tithe. Give sacrificially. Share with the poor. Deny yourself. Lay down your life. All these things and more can be summed up in the maxim, “Give and be given.”
“Give and be given” is the foundation of ministry. Paul put it this way to the Thessalonians:
“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to give to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives [Greek: souls], because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 NASB).
We feel that way about our brother-pastors!
“How Much Do They Give You to Come?”
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
“How much do they give you to come?” This question is asked of me by people trying to figure out the motive and financial basis of our ministry of teaching seminars for pastors and leaders in developing countries.
The question makes me realize that I have not communicated well. They pay us nothing. They can’t. Most live humbly and have so little in terms of earthly goods! They are those James calls
our conference meals taste great!5
“the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the Kingdom which [God] promised to those who love Him” (James 2:5).
Your gifts help Finest of the Wheat cover the costs of airfare, economical hotel nights (when we can't stay with a local family, which is the norm), and we always try to contribute towards our food, in-country transportation, and the cost of photocopying seminar materials.
Not only that, but we also try to leave a gift behind to be used wherever the local ministry has the greatest need. And this list doesn't even touch on the laptops, projectors,7 and Bible-study reference books8 we've provided to pastors over the years. So gladly we give and are given, in order to share the word of the Lord freely.
We Go Where They Are
But we are a small organization with limited resources to give. That's where others – like you – come in. Can you “give and be given” along with us to help us train these men and women? Their education and circumstances (many work second jobs, such as in the sugarcane fields) and ministerial responsibilities (some pastor more than one church) are such that 99% of them will never have the opportunity to attend Bible college.
So we go to them where they are, grounding them in the Scriptures, custom-tailoring the teaching in each location based on input from the leadership and on local needs. Spread out over the course of a teaching trip, on average, the cost comes out to about $15 per attendee for a two- or three-day seminar.
Can You Give and Be Given?
How can you “give and be given” to help us help these leaders?
- Give by underwriting our regular monthly expenses. Every day of non-travel time brings the responsibility of interceding, reading, studying, and writing; preparing and translating of teaching materials; learning and practicing Spanish; corresponding (a time-consuming challenge when it must be done in Spanish!) and counseling; and promoting the vision of this teaching ministry. Our new donations webpage can now help you set up automatic monthly contributions.
Ticket prices will only go up
between now and February.10
Give by sponsoring an upcoming trip. On the schedule currently are trips to Guatemala (February and May), Honduras (March), Perú (which must be rescheduled from last month). We estimate the cost of the first trip—Guatemala—to be about $1060. (It's even possible on the new donations page to give in honor/memory of a loved one or a spiritual mentor.)
I know that they pray and intercede for us.
Will you join them?11
“Be given” by interceding for our ministry. Yes, funds are needed for trips and for day-to-day operations. But we also need God to give us clear guidance to know which invitations to accept, to give us creativity and inspiration in our conception and writing of materials, and to give us favor with and fruit among these wonderful, hungry servants of God to whom and for whom we are glad to “give and be given.”
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.12
Much love in Jesus,
Tax-Deductible Donations Gratefully Received
- Image of plant is copyright by and used under license from https://www.123rf.com/profile_yarruta. ↩
- Although what those sacrifices were is of no bearing to what follows, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to tell you that, in no particular order, the surrenders were to give up:
- the girl I loved and thought I would eventually marry;
- a musical instrument that I had played and enjoyed for 10 years; and,
- plans to attend a Bible college immediately after my graduation.
How wise and kind the Lord is! In the matter of a future wife, He traded “very good” for “custom tailored.” As for the musical instrument (the organ), who could have guessed that I would never again serve in a church that made regular use of an organ in worship?! And not going to Bible college was a special kind of preparation for serving developing-world pastors who can't attend Bible college. (More than three decades later, the Lord allowed me earn a master's degree in Biblical Studies.) ↩
- Image credit: Denise Kerwin ↩
- Image credit: Feliciano Atilio Chávez-Pérez ↩
- Image credit: Denise Kerwin ↩
- Image credit: Fred Juarbe, Jr. ↩
- At last count, 29 laptops and 5 projectors in Guatemala. ↩
- About 30 sets in Guatemala, exactly 40 in Nicaragua, along with a single ‘seed set' in Honduras. These Spanish-language sets consist of a Strong's Concordance, an illustrated Bible dictionary, and a one-volume Matthew Henry Bible Commentary. ↩
- Image credit: Denise Kerwin ↩
- Image credit: Screenshot of ORF-GUA airfare on the Delta.com site, taken on 2018/11/17. ↩
- Image credit: Jim Kerwin ↩
- The hymn from which I've quoted throughout this newsletter is He Giveth More Grace by Annie J. Flint. ↩