May Gift Day 2020
I think it is fair to say that never in my lifetime has one word dominated the world’s news like Covid-19 has over the past few weeks. These times are truely new and uncertain for us all. In light of this, it may seem strange for me to tell you that we’re still looking to hold our gift day in May. Trust me, we have asked ourselves ‘who is able to give at a time like this’’, but as a leadership team we believe God has said that this is exactly what we should do. I would like to share a few things I believe God has brought into view which has led us to come to this viewpoint.
1) Paul and the Corinthians
Put simply, gift days cause us to put faith into action. 2nd Corinthians 8 helpfully unpacks our response to giving, but the more I read this passage the more I’m inspired by Paul. Let’s take a look.
we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.
Here we see Paul writing to the Corinthians at a time of severe need and counterintuitively he is urging them to remember others in their suffering. The Corinthians are no doubt trying to plan how they can make their finances last through the crisis, yet Paul sees this moment as a great time to give!
Even as we’re facing unfamiliar paths, I believe we would be reacting out of fear if we were to cut our giving to others at this point. So far we have experienced a 15% decline in regular giving alongside the loss of much of the buildings income. So we understand the very real temptation to ‘hold on to what we have’, but I also know we are called to be a river of blessing, not a reservoir of reserves.
Generous giving is not what we do when we have much but it is simply what we do.
2) Joseph and the Talents
I have felt God speaking to me about Joseph and the talents. You can read these scriptures in Genesis 41 and Mathew 25. In both of these scriptures we see finance as neither good nor bad, but it’s the heart and motives behind the believers that determines its fruitfulness. Both scriptures teach us about preparation, Godly stewardship and rich generosity in times of plenty and times of need.
So at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in our income, investments, and jobs I believe Jubilee should stand firm in the principles taught through these verses. In fact, it will be no surprise that already some amazing members of JCC have taken it upon themselves to give generously at this time to support the work of the Church. Thank you!
3) How we wish to give
It is at this time we are becoming increasingly aware of the urgent and real challenges arising within our neighbourhoods, our nation and the nations across the world. I would like to suggest that in line with our vision we give to those three distinct areas.
We believe that in the near future our neighbourhood of East Grinstead and the surrounding areas will be hit with serious need due to the lasting effects of Covid-19. As a response, we intend to ‘store up’ a reserve to be able to meet what we believe will be a substantial need in our area. This may include assistance with housing, food and all manner of additional support, as well as the ability to continue with our key ministries despite JCC’s income dropping. Jubilee has a history of being able to clear accumulating debts, heat homes, feed the hungry and house the homeless. It has been the role of the Church for centuries to care for the poor and preach eternal salvation through all circumstances.
Since launching our online services we have been thrilled by the opportunity this has brought us. Someone recently said “when God breaks us out of a mould, we shouldn’t be too quick to climb back in!” so we would also like to explore the option of making Online Church something that continues even once this current crisis has passed, alongside our corporate meetings. However, in order to do this we would need to invest in some new equipment and upgrade some IT to be fit for this challenge.
There are two nations that have been particularly highlighted to us in recent weeks. The first is a Church in Albania which Andy and Esme Amey from JCC have been involved with for many years. They are a community hit not only by the virus, but also by an earthquake that caused devastation earlier in the year. The Church faces the very real possibility of having to close as they are unable to pay their basic outgoings such as rent and the pastors wage. Secondly, we want to be able to continue our commitment to Berlin who are in the early stages of taking root as a Church. The cost, prayer, preparation and faith for planting a new Church is huge, so we believe we must stand with them despite our current challenges.
My prayer is that Jubilee will find overwhelming joy at this time of deep sadness, and that the result will be incredible generosity to those around us and to the Church as we look to stand in faith together.
Dan Baptist – on behalf the Elders at JCC