One of the biggest ways in which the Lord provided financially was through His providences in getting us through COVID.
He was an outcast, shamed from society. He most likely lived outside the village, as that would have been required of him and the nine others he was with, no matter what previous positions they held. They must have heard of Jesus and the miracles He had performed, which included even the healing of lepers. Could it be true? There was no record of this happening since Naaman’s healing 800 years before. Were the rumors true?
When they encountered Jesus, he and the other lepers were simply told to go and show themselves to the priest. They didn’t look or feel any different, but they went anyhow. Somewhere along the way I can hear him yelling, “They’re gone! They’re gone!” The white spots that had plagued him in the past were no longer there. While the others ran to get approval from the clergy, this one man retraced his steps. His life was changed forever, and he had to recognize the One who was responsible for it—to give Him due praise and honor before going forward in what He had called him to do.
During my childhood years, on most Friday nights our family listened to or read wonderful stories like this of the power of God and the amazing ways that He touched lives and transformed them through His miraculous power. We often didn’t want to stop reading or listening because it was so captivating. The testimonies revealed what an amazing and loving God we have, and they would always draw us nearer to Him.
It was a reminder of what we are told in the Spirit of Prophecy:
“Our confession of His faithfulness is Heaven’s chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world. We are to acknowledge His grace as made known through the holy men of old; but that which will be most effectual is the testimony of our own experience. We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgments to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christ-like life, have an irresistible power that works for the salvation of souls."
I have always known that testimonies are very powerful tools for sharing the gospel, but what about me? Am I like the leper who couldn’t help but stop and give glory and honor to Christ for the mighty miracle He had done for him, or am I like the other nine who took for granted what Christ had done for them, almost expecting that they deserved it? The devil loves for us to keep walking like the other nine, but just think of what God can do through us when we share the powerful testimony of gratefulness for what God has done in our lives. The story is already there, we just need to tell it.
Recently, I was asked to put together a financial summary to be included in the booklet for the 34th Michigan Conference Constituency Session. My job was to gather data from the last five years and highlight different ways the Lord has led from a financial perspective. During the process, it gave me a wonderful opportunity to reflect over that time period and the events that happened along the way.
I remember arriving for work after our constituency session five years ago and walking into my new office. I looked around the room and many thoughts and feelings began to race through my mind, many of which produced questions I didn’t have the answers to. I was quickly reminded of my need for heavenly wisdom as I only wanted to be faithful in all the Lord’s dealings He had in store for me.
Nobody but the Lord knew what we would be navigating through as a Conference over the five year period. Many large decisions would need to be made and I was still quite new to some of the uniqueness of denominational work. The Lord reminded me of something I learned a long time ago—to remember that I was not personally responsible for having all the answers. My job was to stay connected to the One who does, and, by God’s grace, work together with others who are seeking His will and guidance as well.
Previous work and life experiences can play a role and are helpful in the process but are fruitless if we let them alone be our guide in our decisions. I had been blessed to work in the corporate world, served a short stint in denominational work as a boy’s dean, and then in ministry at Weimar Institute for eight years before coming home to the Michigan Conference. Those times were filled with relatable experiences where I can now look back and clearly see the Lord’s hand and how it prepared me for each step of my life. There were many times I had no idea why things happened the way they did and I was clueless on how it would prepare me for the future, but my job was to trust the One who sets the world in motion.
One small example for me was how Weimar used the same accounting software as the Conference, and not having to learn it when I arrived. It may seem like such a small or inconsequential thing, but not to me. The software was made specifically for the Lake Union and it just so happened that they were using it in California. We serve a God that oversees the whole universe yet He even cares in the smallest details of each of our lives.
As we began to come together frequently as newly elected officers of the Conference and earnestly pray and discuss all the different matters, it became very clear in my mind that the Lord had blessed me with two amazing and godly leaders to serve with, along with a whole office of other workers that loved the Lord and were passionate about serving Him. The Lord brought us together to take us on a journey with Him through some amazing times. He has used those experiences to show us that our Redeemer lives and is still in control. Here are two I would like to highlight.
One financial area we began praying over was the debt on the new conference office. It stood at $4.9 million, which was a mountain we needed the Lord to move for us. Through many sources of funding, including generous donations, operating surpluses, the sale of different properties, and even money we were not expecting, the Lord moved that mountain. It was not always easy though. One struggle in that process was the sale of the old office building. The Lord used that experience to grow us and our faith in Him. The office was sold multiple times, but each sale fell through. We reached our final agreement and then COVID hit. There were many bumps in the road, but God came through as only He could, to complete the sale for His glory.
One of the biggest ways in which the Lord provided financially was through His providences in getting us through COVID. At the very onset, uncertainty abounded in every aspect of life. What would ministry look like? What would our financial health be like? Many people thought giving could significantly drop due to the stoppages of everything around us. Many long days pursued in searching and praying for His guidance in how to be stewards during this crisis. We praise the Lord for His goodness and for how He provided for His church. Not only did we NOT see a dip in giving, but we saw an increase, with the biggest tithe ever coming in 2021. What a testimony of the faithfulness of God and His people!
These are only a few examples of the many ways God has blessed us during this quinquennium. As the apostle John said, “There are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). God is always faithful, brothers and sisters. In all the fulfilling of His promises, may we never cease to praise Him and tell of His goodness and faithfulness. It is “Heaven’s chosen agency for revealing Christ to the world.”