Giving in abundance and giving in poverty
T he Apostle Paul was clear in his teaching that it is a Christian duty for believers to provide for their impoverished brothers and sisters.
Paul’s specific priority was the relief of suffering Christians in Jerusalem who were enduring a severe famine. He did not demand donations, but urged that generous giving to the most needy believers was a sign of the sincerity of our love for Christ (2 Corinthians 8:8).
Paul argued that it was a matter of fairness for those Christians who have plenty – as many of us in the West have plenty compared to those around the world – to give generously to support their Christian family (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).
Yet he also praised those who gave in spite of their own struggles. The church in Macedonia gave in “rich generosity” despite their own “extreme poverty”, and even “urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people” (2 Corinthians 8:2,4).
Many of us are also struggling with the cost of living or our personal circumstances. The Macedonian Christians were enduring “extreme poverty”, yet they gave generously.
The trustworthiness of Paul
Along with Paul’s encouragement to give generously, the churches will have been persuaded to donate by the character of the man who was collecting the donations. Put simply, Paul was trusted.
The Apostle Paul was known for his faithfulness, continually serving Christ and His Church despite the difficulties he faced (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). He was reliable, open and transparent. He dedicated his life to service, even continuing his ministry of teaching, evangelism and prayer from prison (Philippians 1:7-12).
Paul also showed himself a good steward of the churches’ resources. In Corinth Paul worked as a tentmaker, and avoided burdening the church financially (Acts 18:3; 2 Corinthians 11:9). Similarly, in Ephesus, “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions” (Acts 20:33-34).
Paul’s collection for Jerusalem was well ordered and purposeful. He gave clear instructions as to how to raise the money and how to ensure it reached those who needed it (1 Corinthians 16:1-4).
At Barnabas Aid, we aim to emulate these characteristics of Paul, following his example (1 Corinthians 11:1). We too prioritise continual faithful service, having worked for 30 years to provide aid and practical support to persecuted and suffering Christians. In that time we have used our supporters’ generous donations to fund around 5,000 projects in 109 countries.
We too are open and transparent, providing regular updates on how we use the money so graciously given to us.
Through these updates — published in our free bimonthly magazine, emails and project newsletters — donors to Barnabas Aid know the difference that their donations have made. They can pray for the projects they have supported with up-to-date knowledge. Above all, they will know that they are part of the Barnabas Aid community. For we are all one family of believers, one partnership and one fellowship. Everyone in the Barnabas community, whether donors, intercessors, volunteers, staff, project partners on the ground or the suffering Christians whom the projects support, seek to encourage one another in the Lord and to give Him all the glory.
Many in the Barnabas Aid community give regularly, for example by monthly Direct Debit. This is quick for our staff to process and keeps our overheads low. If you can commit to regular giving, you will know that every month your gift is blessing suffering Christians who, like you, are part of the Barnabas community.