I have recently been struck by God’s generosity to us as a church community. We started the process of exploring an extension to our building in early 2013 and by the autumn of 2013 plans had developed to the point where we would be required to raise about £100,000 as a church community towards these. Knowing this the PCC continued to pursue and develop the plans.
Since then God has shown his generosity through his people. We have received two legacies, the first from the estate of someone who was connected with St Paul’s decades ago. That legacy totalled £163,272. The second is from a member of our church community who died at the end of 2013 which is likely to be approximately £100,000. Together they are an amazing provision for St Paul’s at this time and I believe a confirmation that we are on the right path with our plans. Both of these leave me incredibly thankful for the generosity of Christians who have gone before us.
In response to God’s generosity the PCC early on made the decision to give 10% of these legacies away and it was with great joy we were able to do that for the first legacy at the end of last year.
I was somewhat taken aback in December to be informed that we had received a further payment of £28,500 from the first legacy above!
It was totally unexpected, however, for me, it came at a time when I have become more and more aware of the needs of Christians around the world. I regularly read updates on Facebook from Canon Andrew White on the plight of Christian refugees in Northern Iraq. As they fled many escaped with very little more than their lives. Today they live as refugees in Kurdistan almost totally reliant on the international community and on Christian charities to support them. They are now in winter with freezing temperatures in appalling conditions, and, according to one report, with less than a quarter of the financial support needed to provide for the most basic of needs.
I also read updates from Barnabas Fund whose work is with persecuted Christians around the world in places like Nigeria, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq. These needs are growing as our brothers and sisters suffer appalling persecution.
As I read the Bible I come across verses like there:
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? James 2:15-17
With this in mind I asked the PCC to consider giving all of the additional £28,500 away to Christians in need today. That is a big ask and goes against the way that almost all of us, including the vicar, live in storing up for a rainy day. It is a risk because we don’t know what the budget for the building work will finally be or if there are things we will need doing to our present building. It means we may need to do some fundraising for our own needs, or for the completion and fitting out of the planned building works.
It does however take seriously the words of the Bible above and of the Apostle Paul who says to the church in Philippi:
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
At our last meeting the PCC decided to immediately give £8,000 to Canon Andrew White for the relief of Christians in Northern Iraq. At our meeting in February we will consider the balance of £20,500. Please pray for the PCC as they make decisions on our behalf.