January 30, 2012

Sharing in Mission

                I got to visit my favorite Sunday School class yesterday—no, not the one at Prairie Baptist where I regularly (that might be debated) attend.  I was at Third Baptist Church in St. Louis for the launching of a new seminary program, so I went to the class I will not miss when there, the Prayer Partners class.  Faithfully led by Linda and Howard Roos, this class is comprised of differently abled persons who love God, each other, and the larger world.

                The class has a practice of contributing spare change to a common fund that is designated for some missional purpose.  Over the years, the class has contributed well over $4000 to varied initiatives, creatively making a significant impact.  Yesterday, the class presented an absolutely stuffed spaghetti jar to me containing $99.85, mostly in coin saved from bus fare change.  It was a hefty offering! They knew I was preparing to go to Myanmar once again and wanted to share out of their substance with needs there.  Members of this class have little margin to be generous, yet over time and together their funds can be transformative.

I offered two options for disbursing their funds:  either Myanmar Institute of Theology or the Ywama Baptist Church Medical Clinic, located in the Insein section of Yangon, near the seminary. Quickly and unanimously they said it should go to the medical clinic.  Often facing the challenge of adequate medical care themselves, they were thrilled with the impact of their gift:  one dollar per patient.  I am grateful to carry their funds and present them in their behalf.  I will do my best to convey to the medical staff the sacrifice involved in this gift and the reservoir of love from which it flows.

This class reminds me of Paul’s commendation of the Macedonians: “. . . they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means . . . for the privilege of sharing in this ministry . . .” (2 Corinthians 8:3-4).  Generous giving feeds the spring of joy, and the Prayer Partners demonstrate this fruit of the Spirit in abundance.  Often dependent on others for transportation or special assistance, they enjoy and claim the empowerment of providing for others.  They understand something of the mysterious calculus of grace; freely they have received, and freely they give.

After presenting the money, one by one members of the class prayed, some haltingly and some fluently, for our students and me.  They prayed for our protection and the witness we will bear. As we complete final preparations for our pilgrimage, we go with added joy and strength because of their deep sharing in mission.

Molly T. Marshall

                Central is launching a FOUNDATIONS program at Third Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO. To learn more about this new opportunity for ministry preparation, continue visiting our website.



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