1 Missions Illustrations The Word Became Flesh, E. Stanley Jones. Abingdon Press. 2006, p. 313 An interesting incident took place when India s new constitution was being passed in the National Legislature. In the portion where it says that each individual has the right to profess, practice, and propagate his faith, that word propagate was a question mark to many. In the midst of it a Hindu said, To the Christian it is inherent to propagate his faith. If he is faithful to his faith he must propagate his faith. So if you do not allow him to propagate his faith you do not allow him to profess and practice his faith. That argument swung the situation and it was adopted." "The Supremacy of Christ, Ajith Fernando. "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 1999, William Carey Library, Pasadena California. pp E. Stanley Jones tells the story about an unbelieving doctor who lay dying. A Christian doctor sat beside him and urged him to surrender, to have faith in Christ. The dying doctor listened in amazement. Light dawned. And he joyously said, All my life I have been bothered with what to believe, and now I see it is whom to trust... I heard a story about a young non-christian man who was studying English and was using one of the Gospels for reading. He suddenly got up in the middle of a lesson, paced up and down the room, and said, These are not the words of a man, these are the words God!" "Four Men. Three Eras, Two Transitions, Ralph D Winter. "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, 1999, William Carey Library, Pasadena, California. p. 257 When he (Hudson Taylor) suggested that the inland peoples of China needed to be reached, he was told you could not get there, and he was asked if he wished to carry on his shoulders the blood of the young people he would thus send to their deaths. This accusing question stunned and staggered him. Groping for light, wandering on the beach, it seemed as if God finally spoke to resolve the ghastly thought: You are not sending young people in the interior of China. I am. The load lifted. SimNow But, for me personally, being anything but a missionary would be second best. Perhaps a story I recall hearing years ago explains it best. It seems the old Standard Oil Company offered an enormous sum of money to a missionary in China to work for them, to help with the development of Standard Oil in China. The missionary turned them down. So they doubled the salary offer. He turned them down again. They said, "What do you want? We can't give more money than that. He said, "The money doesn't have anything to do with it. The job is too small." Focus on the Family, July, 1993, p. 5 One afternoon author Patsy Clairmont found herself on an airplane, sitting next to a young man. She writes, "I had already observed something about this young man when I was being seated. He called me "Ma'am." At the time I thought, 'Either he thinks I'm ancient, or he's from the South where they still teach manners, or he's in the service.' I decided the latter was the most likely, so I asked, "You in the service?" "Yes, Ma'am, I am." "What branch?" "Marines." "Hey, Marine, where are you coming from?" "Operation Desert Storm, Ma'am." "No kidding? Desert Storm! How long were you there?" I asked. "A
2 Missions Illustrations p. 2 year and a half. I'm on my way home. My family will be at the airport." I then commented that he must have thought about returning to his family and home many times while he was in the Middle East. "Oh, no, Ma'am," he replied. "We were taught never to think of what might never be, but to be fully available right where we were." Pillar of Fire, January First, 1983 A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" asked Taylor. "I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott. He was accepted. Source Unknown "It is the impassioned pleading of a quiet little Scottish lady that linked my life with the Soudan," wrote Rowland Bingham (a founder of S.I.M.). "In the quietness of her parlor she told how God had called a daughter to China and her eldest boy (Walter Gowans) to the Soudan. She spread out before me the vast extent of those thousands of miles and filled in the teeming masses of people. Ere I closed the interview she had placed upon me the burden of the Soudan." A year and a half later Bingham returned to Canada, alone. Walter and Thomas Kent lay buried in Nigeria's interior. "I visited Mrs. Gowans to take her the few personal belongings of her son," he recalled. "She met me with extended hand. We stood there in silence. "Then she said these words: 'Well, Mr. Bingham, I would rather have had Walter go out to the Soudan and die there, all alone, than have him home today, disobeying his Lord.'" Ralph Winter in Leadership, IV, 4, p. 64 Americans give $700 million per year to mission agencies. However, they pay as much for pet food every 52 days. A person must overeat by at least $1.50 worth of food per month to maintain one excess pound of flesh. Yet $1.50 per month is more than what 90 percent of all Christians in America give to missions. If the average missions supporter is only five pounds overweight, it means he spends (to his own hurt) at least five times as much as he gives for missions. If he were to choose simple food (as well as not overeat), he could give ten times as much as he does to missions and not modify his standard of living in any other way! Daily Bread William Carey had to overcome great odds to obey the call of God. In The Challenge of Life, Oswald J. Smith noted that "even the Directors of the East India Company opposed [Carey's] work. Following is the idiotic resolution they presented to Parliament: 'The sending out of missionaries into one Eastern possession is the maddest, most extravagant, most costly, most indefensible project which has ever been suggested by a moonstruck fanatic.'" Smith added, "In 1796, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland passed the following infamous resolution: 'To spread the knowledge of the gospel amongst barbarians and heathens seems to be highly preposterous.' One speaker in the House of Commons said that he would rather see a band of devils let loose in India than a band of missionaries. Such was the opposition to missions when Carey set forth. And yet, he was able to write, Why is my soul disquieted within me? Things may turn out better than I expect. Everything is known to God, and God cares.'" William Carey stood the test, and became the father of modern missions. C.T. Studd Some wish to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.
3 Missions Illustrations p. 3 W. Wiersbe, Something Happens When Churches Pray, pp Some years ago, a very good friend of mine, Dr. E. Myers Harrison, gave a missionary message that I cannot forget. It was to a small group of people, but I will never forget the sermon. Dr. Harrison is now at home with the Lord, but he was a great servant of God and a great missionary statesman. He said that each of us as Christians must hear what God has to say. There is the command from above: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Have you heard that? I've heard people say, "But God wants our church to be different. We're not supposed to have a missionary program." I don't believe that. I believe the command from above is given to every Christian and to every assembly that God has raised up. Then there is the cry from beneath. Remember the rich man who died and woke up in hell and begged for someone to go and tell his brothers? (see Luke 16). "I pray thee, therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house (for I have five brethren), that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment" (vv. 27,28). There is the cry from beneath. If you and I could hear the cries of people in a lost eternity right now, we'd realize how important it is to get the Gospel out. There's the command from above. Have you heard it? There's the cry from beneath. Have you heart it? Then, according to Dr. Harrison, there is the call from without. Acts 16:9 says, "Come over into Macedonai, and help us." People around us are saying, "Please come to help us!" So much money, time and energy is being spent on routine church matters in America when there is a whole world to reach for Christ! We face so many open doors! Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder, (Jove Books, 1974). A Sunday school teacher, a Mr. Kimball, in 1858 led a Boston shoe clerk to give his life to Christ. The clerk, Dwight L. Moody, became an evangelist and in England in 1879 awakened evangelistic zeal in the heart of Frederick B. Meyer, pastor of a small church. F.B. Meyer, preaching on an American college campus, brought to Christ a student named J. Wilbur Chapman. Chapman engaged in YMCA work employed a former baseball player Billy Sunday, to do evangelistic work. Sunday held a revival in Charlotte, NC. A group of local men were so enthusiastic afterward that they planned another campaign, bringing Mordecai Hamm to town to preach. In the revival, a young man named Billy Graham heard the gospel and yielded his life to Christ. Billy Graham (The story goes on and on.) It was a Jew who brought the Gospel to Rome; a Roman who took it to France; a Frenchman who took it to Scandinavia; a Scotsman who evangelized Ireland; and an Irishman in turn made the missionary conquest of Scotland. No people have ever received the Gospel except at the hands of an alien. A young man accepted for the African missionary field reported at New York for "passage" but found on further examination that his wife could not stand the climate. He was heartbroken, but he prayerfully returned to his home and determined to make all the money he could to be used in spreading the Kingdom of God over the world. His father, a dentist, had started to make, on the side, an unfermented wine for the communion service. The young man took the business over and developed it until it assumed vast proportions... his name was "Welch," whose family still manufactures "grape juice." He has given literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to the work of missions. A great philanthropist, the late Mrs. John Dibert of New Orleans, told how one night in midwinter, as she was riffling through a magazine, her eyes were caught by a cartoon. In it, two ragged old women were shivering over a meager fire. "What you thinkin' about?" asked one. "About the nice warm clothes the rich ladies will be giving us next summer," answered the other. Mrs. Dibert, supporter of hospitals, donor to many charities, looked at the cartoon for a long time. Finally she went up into the attic, unpacked trunks, made bundles of warm clothes to be distributed the next day. She resolved to time her charity better, to give, as she put it, "to the ones whose needs are NOW."
4 Missions Illustrations p. 4 James May An older gentleman was walking along the seashore one day in the hot sun. As he walked he was sweating profusely and seemed to be in a hurry! Every few steps he would bend over, pick up a starfish from the hot, burning sands and cast it back into the cool waves. One after another, after another, after another he would pick the starfish up and cast them into the water. Some would come back to the hot sand as the waves washed them back in while most would eventually go into the deeper waters of safety. A young man came along, after having watched this for a while and told the old man, You are wasting your time and energy. There are thousands of starfish on the sand, what difference can you possibly make? The old man seemed to ignore this younger man. He simply bent over picked up another starfish and threw it into the water. As he quickly moved on to the next one, the old man turned to the younger man and said, Well, it sure made a difference for that one didn t it! Brian Archer Some time ago an 18-year-old girl from Washington State attended a worship service. For the first time in her life she heard the gospel message. The following Tuesday the members of the church received a letter from her. It read: Dear Church members: Last Sunday I attended your church, and I heard the preacher. In the sermon the preacher said that all men have sinned and rebelled against God. Because of their rebellion and disobedience they all face eternal damnation and separation from God. But then he also said God loved men and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to redeem men from their sins and that all those who believe in him would go to heaven and live with God eternally. My parents recently died in rapid succession. I know they did not believe in Jesus Christ, whom you call the Savior of the world. If what you believe is true, they are damned. You compel me to believe that either the message is true, that you yourself don t believe this message, or that you don t care. You see, we live only three blocks from your church, and no one ever told us. Bruce Howell, The Forgotten Letter Drop Several years ago the city of Pittsburgh constructed a large, new post office at the cost of several million dollars. On the day of its opening, the Governor made a speech, the bands played and the people cheered. It was quite a celebration. But when the first man entered to mail a letter, to the embarrassment of the engineers, it was discovered that in the rush to meet the deadline, they had omitted the usual letter drop. Here was a costly new post office, but no place to mail a letter! It was a slight omission, but it negated the very reason for its existence. That brings me to the very point of this message: WHEN ANY CHURCH LOSES THE SPIRIT OF THE GREAT COMMISSION, IT SURRENDERS THE VERY REASON FOR IT S EXISTENCE. Missions is not a side line! It is the LIFELINE of the church. Paul Fritz Remember that William Carey, the Father of modern missions told his churches, "If you will hold the ropes, I will go down to look for the lost." He started out with only six supporters but ended up staying 47 years in India and setting in motion the entire modern missionary movement because of those six faithful partners. "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." Little becomes much when we place it in the Master s hands." The foot cannot say to the hand I have no need of you, but we need to cooperate with the universal body of Christ to maximize our contributions to the cause of Christ s kingdom priority purposes, plans and programs for His greater glory!
5 Missions Illustrations p. 5 Paul Fritz A famous atheist once said, "If I believed in hell as Christians do I would crawl on my hands and knees around the world to tell one person about how to escape its horror." Jeff Strite In the 13th Century, Nicolo Polo (father of Marco Polo) was visiting the court of the grandson of Ghengis Khan - Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan was the Emperor of China and he had never met Europeans before. He was delighted to meet this visitor from Venice AND he was strongly impressed by the religious faith of this man; therefore, he sent a letter back to Europe urging that some educated men be dispatched to instruct his people in the teachings of Christianity. But, because of political upheaval and infighting that was taking place in Europe, there was a long delay in anybody coming. In the end, only two representatives of Christianity were sent and even they lost heart soon and turned back. Because of the failure of the church of that day, Kublai Khan turned instead to Buddhism and that has been the predominant religion in the area from that day to this. Gerald Cornelius A little girl loved the Lord and longed to share the message of Christ to those on the mission field. She contributed a penny to a missionary to help in the work of evangelizing the people of Burma. The missionary was so touched by the little girl s response that he decided to do the most he could with that little penny. After careful thought, he bought a gospel tract and personally gave it to a young chieftain. The chieftain would not admit that he could not read, yet he burned with a desire to know the contents of the leaflet. He traveled 250 miles to find someone who would read it to him. After hearing the gospel message, it was not long after that this young chief made a profession of faith in Christ. Returning to his people, he told them what the Lord had done for him. Later he invited missionaries to come and share Jesus with the village. Many tribesmen accepted the good news and were converted. All this and probably more resulted from one dedicated penny given in Christ s name by a little girl who gave from her heart. Paul Black I believe that the main purpose of the church of Jesus Christ is to see every person on the face of this earth, all 6 billion of them, bend their knees and declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. May I take you back to Jesus last words in Acts 1:8: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.? Parents, what s the last thing you tell your kids before you walk out the door and leave them? The most important thing! (Turn off the stove; don t go outside; be careful; I love you) The fact that Jesus last words to us commanded us to evangelize that world tells me that He believes it s our Main Thing! Paul Black But preacher, I can t take three days out of my schedule to go on a mission trip. May I remind you that Jesus willingly took three days out of His schedule to lie in a cold dark tomb so that you could taste heaven? Harry Jackson Beneath a snow covered grove of trees behind the Andover Seminary in Massachusetts in the winter of 1819, Adoniram Judson knelt and made a solemn dedication of himself to God. He said The command of Christ to go into all the world came to my mind with such force and clarity that I knew I must obey the command at all costs. In his dormitory room at Wheaton in the late 1940s, Jim Elliot wrote: Those generations passing
6 Missions Illustrations p. 6 away at this moment! They must hear of the Savior! How can we wait? O, Lord of the Harvest, do send forth laborers! Here am I, Lord. Send me. In the emotion-charged atmosphere of the Friars Lane Baptist Church, Nottingham, April 1792, Andrew Fuller cried that India seemed a vast gold mine with no one to venture into its depths. William Carey leapt to his feet responding, I ll go down into the mine, but you must hold the ropes. Our Daily Bread, January 21, 1994 In his book Facing Loneliness, J. Oswald Sanders refers to Henry Martyn, a distinguished scholar. Martyn, a Cambridge University student, was honored at only 20 years of age for his achievements in mathematics. In fact, he was given the highest recognition possible in that field. And yet he felt an emptiness inside. He said that instead of finding fulfillment in his achievements, he had "only grasped a shadow." After evaluating his life's goals, Martyn sailed to India as a missionary at the age of 24. When he arrived, he prayed, "Lord, let me burn out for You." In the next seven years that preceded his death, he translated the New Testament into three difficult Eastern languages. These notable achievements were certainly not passing "shadows." Christianity Today, 1993 Alila stood on the beach holding her tiny infant son close to her heart. Tears welled in her eyes as she began slowly walking toward the river's edge. She stepped into the water, silently making her way out until she was waist deep, the water gently lapping at the sleeping baby's feet. She stood there for a long time holding the child tightly as she stared out across the river. Then all of a sudden in one quick movement she threw the six month old baby to his watery death. Native missionary M.V. Varghese often witnesses among the crowds who gather at the Ganges. It was he who came upon Alila that day kneeling in the sand crying uncontrollably and beating her breast. With compassion he knelt down next to her and asked her what was wrong. Through her sobs she told him, "The problems in my home are too many and my sins are heavy on my heart, so I offered the best I have to the goddess Ganges, my first born son." Brother Varghese's heart ached for the desperate woman. As she wept he gently began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that through Him her sins could be forgiven. She looked at him strangely. "I have never heard that before," she replied through her tears. "Why couldn't you have come thirty minutes earlier? If you did, my child would not have had to die." Each year millions of people come to the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away. For many people like Alila, missionaries are arriving too late, simply because there aren't enough of these faithful brothers and sisters on the mission field. Source Unknown When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. "And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?" he asked one. "I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature," was the reply. Another said, "I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ." Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, "All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ". Our Daily Bread A missionary in Africa was once asked if he really liked what he was doing. His response was shocking. "Do I like this work?" he said. "No. My wife and I do not like dirt. We have reasonable refined sensibilities. We do not like crawling into vile huts through goat refuse But is a man to do
7 Missions Illustrations p. 7 nothing for Christ he does not like? God pity him, if not. Liking or disliking has nothing to do with it. We have orders to 'Go,' and we go. Love constrains us." Sandra Goodwin Last night I took a journey To a land far 'cross the seas; I didn't go by boat or plane, I trusted on my knees. I saw so many people there In deepest depths of sin, And Jesus told me I should go That there were souls to win. But I said, "Jesus, I can't go And work with such as these." He answered quickly, "Yes, you can By traveling on your knees." He said, "You pray; I'll meet the need, You call and I will hear; Be concerned about lost souls, Of those both far and near." And so I tried it, knelt in prayer, Gave up some hours of ease; I felt the Lord right by my side While traveling on my knees. As I prayed on and saw souls saved And twisted bodies healed, And saw God's workers' strength renewed While laboring on the filed. I said, "Yes, Lord, I have a job My desire Thy will to please; I can go and heed Thy call By traveling on my knees." Pillar of Fire, January First, 1983 A one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg, why do you think of going as a missionary?" asked Taylor. "I do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott. He was accepted. Copyright Leadership, 1983 (based on sermon by missionary Del Tarr) I was always perplexed by Psalm 126 until I went to the Sahel, that vast stretch of savanna more than four thousand miles wide just under the Sahara Desert. In the Sahel, all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year's food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields. October and November these are beautiful months. The granaries are full the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday's Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it
8 Missions Illustrations p. 8 into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep. December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don't stay well on half a meal a day. April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel. Then, inevitably, it happens. A six- or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. "Daddy! Daddy! We've got grain!" he shouts. "Son, you know we haven't had grain for weeks." "Yes, we have!" the boy insists. "Out in the hut where we keep the goats there's a leather sack hanging up on the wall I reached up and put my hand down in there Daddy, there's grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!" The father stands motionless. "Son, we can't do that," he softly explains. "That's next year's seed grain. It's the only thing between us and starvation. We're waiting for the rains, and then we must use it." The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable. Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest. The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, "Brother and sisters, this is God's law of the harvest. Don't expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears." And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don't mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, "I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy." Love is a Costly Thing, by Dick Hillis, OC International She was lying on the ground. In her arms she held a tiny baby girl. As I put a cooked sweet potato into her outstretched hand, I wondered if she would live until morning. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. The sweet potato could help so little but it was all I had. Taking a bite she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby's mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although the mother was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. In a few minutes the baby was asleep. I later learned that during the night the mother's heart stopped, but her little girl lived. Love is a costly thing. God in His live for us (and for a lost world) "spared not His own Son" to tell the world of His love. Love is costly, but we must tell the world at any cost. Such love is costly. It costs parents and sons and daughters. It costs the missionary life itself. In his love for Christ the missionary must give up all to make the Savior known. If you will let your love for Christ, cost you something, the great advance will be made together. Remember, love is a costly thing. Do you love enough?
9 Missions Illustrations p. 9 Source Unknown 97% of the world has heard of coke-a-cola 72% of the world has seen a can of coke-a-cola 51% of the world has tasted a can of coke-a-cola Coke has only been around 80 years (1984). If God had given the task of world evangelization to the Coke company it would probably be done by now. Our Daily Bread, May 13, 1996 Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, which in the 1960 s became what is today the missions agency OMF International, knew the secret of strength through weakness. Complimented once by a friend on the impact of the mission, Hudson answered, It seemed to me that God looked over the whole world to find a man who was weak enough to do His work, and when He at last found me, He said, He is weak enough he ll do. All God s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them. William Carey was a shoemaker when one day he heard of the millions of people in India who had not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. He believed the great commission to Go into all the world and preach the gospel. He believed that that verse was speaking directly to him. So he volunteered to go to India but was told Young man, sit down. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help. Carey went anyway supporting himself. For seven years he worked without seeing a single convert but by the end of his life he saw hundreds of churches and thousands of converts. Today he is known as the Father of Modern Missions. He was a man of faith. Dr. Samuel Zwemer, in a convention of the Student Volunteer Movement, hung a great map of Islam before the delegates, and with a sweep of his hand across all those darkened areas said: 'thou, O Christ, art all I want, and Thou, O Christ, art all they want. What Christ can do for any man, He can do for every man.' The Rich Family in Our Church, by Eddie Ogan, I'll never forget Easter I was 14, my little sister Ocy, 12, and my older sister Darlene, 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died 5 years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money. By 1946 my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. Then we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us baby sat for everyone we could. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1. We make $20 on potholders. That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the Pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering. The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us
10 Missions Illustrations p. 10 three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt so rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us girls put in a $20. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn't have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the fork or the spoon that night. We had two knives which we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never thought we were poor. That Easter Day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed that I didn't want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew we were poor. I decided I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never known we were poor. We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they need money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?" We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church." Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100." We were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary said so? From that day on I've never been poor again. I've always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus. Web site for additional missions illustrations: