Dear Bengali Christian friend,
You have been watching our fundraiser on Facebook and the special website for the last month or so. You have been praying for our success and I thank you for that. I asked for that because I know that you pray very well. God hears and answers your prayers. Your prayers are sincere and fervent and unrelenting. They are very precious to me. One of the things I hope you can teach us Americans is how to pray more fervently.
Now I will tell you what I hope and pray for you. “Excel in the grace of giving,” II Corinthians 8:7. This is a command from Jesus to every Christian, not just the rich ones. If you are poor, or feel yourself to be poor, then you have a special challenge. You must believe that your giving matters. It matters to God. It matters to your neighbor. It matters to yourself.
One of the most destructive things to the human spirit is comparing myself to my neighbor. Paul said in II Corinthians 10:12 “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” God does not compare you to your neighbor. When He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23), it is because of fulfilling one’s calling, using one’s gifts, and living up to one’s potential, all of which are unique to each person. It is not because my outcomes (the number of dollars I give) compare well with my neighbor’s.
One destructive thing is discouragement. It would be natural for someone to look at the $63,000 that we just raised for BMW and say, “I can’t raise nearly that amount. My efforts are worthless.” Another destructive thing is to get greedy and turn oneself into a taker instead of a giver, thinking, “I need to become a recipient of that money. There should be plenty for me to have some.” Then comes envy if someone else does receive some. Then comes jealousy if I receive some. Then comes unhealthy dependency on other humans instead of dependency on the Lord.
I truly hope that our fundraising efforts here in America will encourage my Bengali brothers and sisters in Christ to “excel in the grace of giving.” I am proud to point to American Christians and say that we have a general attitude that we ought to give of our own money for good causes. In our recent fundraiser, most of our participants gave a full day’s wage before they asked anyone else to give. Many gave much more. About one out of every four people in our churches gives 10% or more of his income to charity or church all the time. The rest give less than 2%. I have no doubt that most American Christians will be judged by God for our poor stewardship of all the money running through our hands. But the fact is that almost all of them believe they should give more and are willing to be challenged to give more. They do not wait for some government or NGO or rich person to do something. They take it as a personal duty to make a difference. This is the mentality that must be developed among the Bengalis.
This spirit of volunteerism and of giving is badly needed in Bengali culture, especially in the Church. It is a complete travesty that almost no Bengali pastor is supported full-time by the members of his church. Either he expects to live much higher than his people or his people do not take the responsibility to pay him as the Bible teaches. Many are paid from foreign funds. This must change.
Bengalis have a great capacity to give. When it is for a family member, they can give huge amounts. They do much better than Americans when helping family members. There needs to be a similar readiness to give to churches and to ministries and to servants of God out of a desire to partner with God and His servants.
At BMW we teach that dependency on foreign funds is part of “NGO disease.” We are fighting that disease because it is crippling the kingdom of God in Bangladesh. We encourage collections for the poor even among our poorest students. We do not pay pastors or build their church buildings. Our staff members give more than a tithe. Half of our work is done by volunteers.
It is still not good enough. We are determined that the new generation God is giving us will be champion givers! I believe that in a short amount of time a group of Bengalis (like the Thessalonians of II Cor. 8) could set an example of giving that would be a challenge and an inspiration for their American brothers and sisters!
I challenge you to grow in your giving! It matters to God. He knows how much you can give and He expects you to give it. According to God, the widow who gave God two mites gave more than all the rich people Luke 21:1-4). You cannot grow in your faith if you don’t give. You cannot open your heart to God and keep your wallet closed at the same time.
I challenge you to grow in your giving! It matters to your neighbor who will not see your love until you spend your own resources to help them. If we wait for a foreign aid organization to help our hurting neighbor, then he will know there is no love in our hearts (I John 3:16-17).
I challenge you to grow in your giving! It matters to yourself. Your heart knows when you do not “honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops” (Proverbs 3:9). We cannot have any self-respect when we know we are not doing our part, when we are not setting an example that others can follow, when we are giving as little as we can instead of as much as we can.
I praise the Lord for His answers to our prayers in our recent fundraiser! I look forward to praising the Lord for His answers to our prayers in YOUR next fundraiser!
By the grace of Christ, Dave DeCook