As I have studied God's Word for the past forty-five years and, together with our staff, have ministered in countries representing 97 percent of the world's population, I am convinced that every individual or church experiencing God's maximum blessing is directly involved in helping to fulfill the Great Commission (John 14:21-24).
I am deeply concerned that so little of the financial blessing which God has given to Christians is used to help reach the billions of men, women and children who have never heard the name of Jesus.
In Matthew 28:19,20 Jesus gives us a specific command, "Go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this -- that I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (TLB). The nations that have the greatest resources to help build God's kingdom have not obeyed this command fully.
Oswald Smith said, "If you see ten men carrying a heavy log, nine of them on one end and one man struggling to carry the other, which end would most need your help? The end with only one man." This illustrates how inequitably the evangelized nations have been using their resources to help fulfill the Great Commission.
For example, the United States has a gross national income of four trillion dollars. Of this, three trillion is personal income and one trillion corporate income. How much of this vast wealth do Americans give to missions? Only 0.5 percent. Think of it! That's just 50 cents for every one hundred dollars.
According to the latest figures, the Christian world spent 140 billion dollars on its own church budgets and home missions while sending only 7.5 billion overseas. In literature distribution, non-Christian nations received a mere 1 percent of all Christian books and publications; in broadcasting, 99 percent of all Christian radio/TV dollars were spent in evangelized countries. An estimated 95 percent of all money raised for church budgets in North America goes to domestic use, 4.5 percent goes to established missions, while only 0.5 percent is sent to frontier missions.
This grieves our Lord, and we cannot expect His greatest blessing as individuals or as a church until we fully obey His command to help fulfill the Great Commission throughout the world.
I believe it is an insult to God for a church to give less than 10 percent of a tithe of its budget to foreign missions. More than that, my personal conviction is that from 25 to 50 percent of every church budget should go overseas. Some churches such as the Peoples Church in Toronto and Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, for example, seek to invest at least 50 percent of their resources in missions as an act of obedience to help fulfill the Great Commission around the world.
Imagine how individuals and churches could impact the world if they committed substantial portions of their resources where they are needed most! Generous gifts to foreign missions could help provide God's holy Word, good Christian books, and training materials to introduce people who have never heard the name of Jesus to our Savior. Increased media time could be devoted to broadcasting the gospel into areas that have little or no Christian witness and into countries that are not open to mission groups.
Check you church missions budget to see where an increase to foreign missions could be made. Look for special projects overseas in which you could have an impact in introducing unreached people for Jesus Christ. Then expect God to honor this expression of your faith and obedience to Him to help reach the multitudes of earth with the "most joyful news ever announced."
Vonette and I are more excited about our Lord and the privilege of serving Him now than when we made a very special commitment to put Him first in our lives nearly forty years ago. By the spring of 1951, while I was in my senior year at Fuller Theological Seminary, a deacon in the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, and directing my business interests, we had become increasingly aware that living for Christ and serving Him was our major goal in life. So we decided to sign a contract with our Lord Jesus Christ in which we yielded our lives and all our material possessions to Him, including the giving of our finances.
As a result, today Vonette and I personally own very little of this world's goods. We are missionaries for our Lord, and like every other staff member with Campus Crusade, we trust God to provide our financial needs each day through godly people whom He impresses to invest in us and our ministry for Him. Although we seldom have more than enough to meet our needs for a few days or weeks at a time, we have always enjoyed the blessings of God which He promised to all who trust and obey Him. We would rather trust Him for all of our needs than all of the financial institutions of the world combined.
Right now, Vonette and I are embarking on one of the most exciting adventures in giving of our lives. It all started in 1946 when I heard Dr. Oswald Smith challenge approximately one thousand college students and young singles at a Forrest Home student conference to commit their lives to helping fulfill the Great Commission. He asked each of us to place our name on a country and claim it for our Lord through prayer and finances as God would lead -- if necessary, even to give our lives to help reach that country for Christ. I put my name on the Soviet Union and began praying for God to do a great and mighty work in that country.
When Vonette and I were married, she joined me in praying for the Soviet Union. In recent years we and our staff have ministered to the Soviet people with fantastic results, helping to train thousands of pastors and laymen in various republics of the Soviet Union.
A few months ago, a Christian leader from the Soviet Union visited our headquarters and asked us to start a New Life Training Center in Moscow. Through a series of circumstances sometime later, the thought flashed through my mind: Could God work through me by using my retirement pension to help establish such a training center? My years of praying for the Soviet people and several visits to their county had given me a special love and burden for them. By starting a New Life Training Center with the proceeds of my pension, I could have a rare opportunity to help reach many thousands of them for our dear Lord Jesus Christ!
I had no idea how much my pension totaled, but the cost of launching one discipleship training center would be $50,000 for the first year. Joyfully, I considered the prospect.
First, though, I had to discuss my idea with Vonette. After thoroughly listening to what I thought God was leading us to do and asking a few pertinent questions expressing her concerns, she responded enthusiastically. We prayed and agreed to trust the Lord to provide for our older years.
I checked to find our how much money had accumulated in my pension fund. To our amazement, I had almost the exact amount needed to fund the training center for the first year. Joy and excitement still floods my heart today as I share this story with you. The very thought that God could use my retirement pension to help introduce many thousands of people to Christ overwhelms me. Our present plans are to start the New Life Training Center at Moscow University. I cannot thank God enough for the privilege of making this contribution of my time, talents and treasure to help fulfill the Great Commission.
Have you made your commitment to help fulfill the Great Commission in our generation? He reserves a special blessing for those who give generously of their time, talents and treasure to His word.
It is not likely that God will lead you to give your retirement funds for the cause of Christ. He wants to be original with each of us. Vonette and I have simply responded to his particular call on our lives. But for maximum blessing and fruitfulness of the glory of God, you will want to obey His will and leading as you follow His plan for your life.
I urge you to develop a personal strategy for giving that will enable you to invest wisely and significantly in the kingdom of God and thus increase your fruitfulness for Christ. Acknowledge God as the source and owner of your possessions, and be ready to give an account of your stewardship to Him. Offer your gifts to the Lord Jesus as an act of praise and worship. Put God first in your giving, and manage your time, talents and treasure to bring maximum glory to His name by laying up an abundance of treasures in heaven. In so doing, you too will experience the wonderful adventure of living and giving by faith.
Remember, How You Can Experience the Adventure of Giving is a transferable concept. You can master it by reading it six times; then pass it on to others as our Lord commands us in Matthew 28:20, "Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you." The apostle Paul encouraged us to do the same: "The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2).
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Experience the Joy of Giving, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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