Monday, March 9, 2009

Joyful Giving … Together!

My sweet friend Jenny has a real knack for gift wrapping. She always dresses up a gift with a creative ribbon, tag, or accessory that makes the package a gift in itself. It's the finishing touch that she adds that shows how much thought and care went into the gift being given. After a week of focusing on missions, it seems appropriate to wrap up those thoughts with a really beautiful "bow," something to finish off the recent posts with an accessory that shouts out the glory of what took place.

Our church family is just wrapping up our missions conference, and it's been good to lift our eyes and look out onto the field of the world. For the seven months leading up to this conference, the women of our church have been engaged in a project … together. God had clearly directed our hearts and plans to partner with a unique ministry to abandoned, handicapped, widowed, and rejected women in Bangladesh. This "Heart House" is linked to a medical partner that works with our church. On the first Sunday of each month in the project, we placed a beautiful Asian box in our welcome center and asked each girl or woman to give $1. On that day, we also passed out a beautifully designed prayer bookmark designed for that month and including names of individuals at Heart House, along with their needs. Throughout the months, we incorporated their stories and names and needs in our women's ministries. As the months passed, the "Heart House" became much more personal than a project or a ministry; it became a collection of individuals with names and needs and eternities.

Over the seven months, the gifts included beautiful fabrics to be sent, a serger sewing machine, cutting mats, scissors, time, talents, cards, and acts of service. The small wooden box would never accommodate it. We mailed boxes full of gifts, always accompanied by prayer. As each month began, people still came, bringing their gifts of all amounts and in all shapes. One dollar for each month, for seven months, during months when our national economy's failing was the centerpiece of concern. Finally, on the last night of our Missions Conference, we had the joy of giving our gift. The giving of gifts back to Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, is a pleasure. We give out of love for Him and for the furthering of His life changing love for us. As the accessory on our week of global attention, we were able to present almost $11,000. It was more than I could've imagined, and to top it off, the gift was matched! Doubled. That's a double bow on top of the package. What joy!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:30,21

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