Several years ago as Allie and I (Dianne) traveled back to the States for Christmas, we were delayed in London overnight. God had several reasons for the delay - so we could help the Slovak man at the airport who spoke no English; so we could try to help the Serbian who spoke no English on the plane; and lastly, so I could meet Kaytie and learn about CHE (Community Health Evangelism).
As we waited on the plane through yet another delay, passengers began to visit with one another. Kaytie shared that she was returning from leading a mission group in India. I told her about our work among Roma and plans to develop some type of health ministry. Kaytie immediately told me about CHE and how she used their resources in her work. She provided me with a web address so I could learn more. We exchanged contact information.
A few days later, I received a book in the mail from Kaytie - Giving Wisely? Killing with Kindness or Empowering Lasting Transformation? I packed it in my suitcase and took it back to Slovakia where it rested on my shelf until about six weeks ago. I should have read it much sooner.
The author, Jonathan Martin, uses the acronym RAISE to outline what he sees as Biblical principles of giving.
Martin discusses the example of Paul and the early church. In Acts 20, there are a list of leaders from churches who have taken offerings for the church in Jerusalem. This group accompanies Paul to deliver the offering. Why is this important? These leaders are building relationships with the believers in Jerusalem. They can also help encourage the believers in Jerusalem and then give first-hand accounting to their churches when they return home. This is a model of relationship and accountability.
Paul also provided a model for church planting. Plant the local church, set up leadership, hand it over to those local leaders and leave. He continued a relationship with the church, but he allowed them to grow on their own. Paul believed that the resources needed for the church were available within the local body of believers or that God would provide those resources from within the local church. The local body working together should have ownership of the ministry and be self-governing. Indigenous sustainability was the norm, not the exception.
Often financial support from outside sources can cause discord among local believers. Singling out local leaders by providing monetary support can stir up jealousy. We should not assume that we, outsiders, know best what a local church leader needs. Be aware of cultural norms and provide accordingly. Maintaining equity among local believers is important. Our lack of understanding can undermine the local church and its leaders.
Yes, there are needs to be met and we want to help, but we must prayerfully consider how we give. Giving is a two-way street and can be a blessing for both the giver and receiver. We want to give to build up God's church, not hinder its development.
I (Dianne) really enjoyed Giving Wisely? and highly recommend it to you.