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27 October 2017

The generosity of God’s people

The generosity of God’s people

As I write this Last Word, I realise I've been general director of the Evangelical Alliance for more than eight years. I remember well my first day as Ann and I arrived at Whitfield House (our old resource centre), welcomed by the whole staff team with a large cake to celebrate. These last years have gone so quickly. I admit at times, I still feel like I'm wearing 'L plates'. The overwhelming emotion, as I reflect, is one of enormous gratitude - both to a wonderful team of people I've had the privilege of working alongside, but most especially to God, who has proved Himself time and time again to be faithful - often knowing our needs even before we've had the chance to mention them. I look back on so many occasions when we have sensed His intervention, turning situations around, giving us wisdom and providing key people in the right place at the right time.

Let me share just one such incident. At the end of last year, Emrys Jones, director of finance and operations shared with the leadership team his concern as to our finances. He was predicting a £50,000 deficit for the financial year. Income had not been coming in as we had hoped and we needed to take it seriously. As the leadership considered the situation, we were clear this was a time for prayer – with 1 February specified as a day for the whole team to set aside for prayer and fasting.

The result was amazing. Within days, significant gifts from our members, both large and small, began to arrive alongside two wonderfully generous legacies. As we began to share the news with the team, you can imagine the excitement and indeed encouragement. By the end of March, what we had feared would be a substantial deficit had turned into a surplus. We just knew God had answered our prayers, but we also knew He had used our members and their generosity as a means to his end.

I share this story as, what I hope will be, an encouragement. We are so grateful to you for your generosity in supporting the work of the Alliance – for some, over many years. It's your faithful prayer and finances that make possible all that we do. We exist as an Alliance to serve you, our members, but we are also dependent on you to be God's means of supplying our needs.

I look back on the last eight years with deep thankfulness for the generosity of God's people. I've also found myself challenged as to my own generosity, even more so as I've built relationships with our One People Commission and experienced first-hand the warmth, wisdom and generosity of the ethnic minority Church. As we stand together in the difficult issues that our communities face I have learnt so much. Here are Christians from so many different parts of the world – South America, Africa, the Caribbean, China, Korea and South East Asia – living here in the UK, committed to praying and giving their time and finances for the sake of God's purposes here. 

I remember vividly, Pastor Kingsley Appiagyei, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, South London, outlining his call to the UK. He recalled the history of white- British missionaries bringing the gospel to his nation, Ghana. Often, these missionaries paid with their lives. They sailed to Africa with their coffins, prepared for what might be just a few days of ministry. As Pastor Kingsley spoke, he expressed his gratitude for the seeds of the gospel which had been sown in his nation by men and women of which he and the Church in Ghana were the harvest. His call to the UK, he explained, was to bring something of the harvest back and for the Church in the UK to receive the fruit of its labour. I thank God for such a challenge to my generosity and my willingness to sacrifice.

If we are going to see the UK impacted by the power of the gospel, if we are to see Jesus made known to the millions who know him only as a mythical character or a swear word, it's going to require sacrifice from us all. Yes, of our time and finances, but also our willingness to overcome our fears. Is there a more generous act we as Christians can offer to anyone than to make Jesus known to those who don't know him? It could be a gift of eternal significance.

JOIN US
If I may, I'd like to take this opportunity, in this special edition on the gift of giving, to ask you to join us. When you join the Alliance family, you give so much more than just money. You give yourself to a growing, vibrant, united Church, fulfilling Jesus' prayer in John 17 that we become one. 
So, will you join us today?
If you're already a member, could you pass this onto a friend? You'll find a leaflet in the centre pages of the magazine to enable you to set up a Direct  Debit of £3 a month. Or visit www.eauk.org/supportea to sign up online.
As a thank you, I would love to resource you with a few gifts to equip you to be salt and light in the world: 
″ Game Changers, Gavin Calver's latest book
″ One, my personal journey of unity in diversity
″ Change the World, our recently-published Bible study course on public leadership

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