Adventists in North America share their experiences giving in a time of need.
Published on: 07-22-2020
God Is Faithful
I would always get excited to help my mom count the money from the sales of the day from her little business. I was about 7 years old, and the first thing my mom taught me when counting the money was to make a list of the monetary values of all the items invested on that day, then the remaining funds were the earnings.
The first thing to separate from the earnings was a 20-percent portion (10 percent tithe, and 10 percent local offerings). That was our daily routine. Now my mom is 74 and I am 47. We both still try to follow the same principle. Ten percent of my earnings is my tithe that I give back to the Lord and the 10 percent to my local church offerings.
My husband works as a physical therapist with patients who have cerebral palsy. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, the company that he works for told him that he would need to use his sick leave, extended sick leave, and vacation hours to get paid, as they couldn’t continue visiting the patients due to the shelter-in-place order. We reviewed his hours, and he had enough hours to get paid through April 15.
I was tempted to keep the 10 percent from our local church offerings; however, after praying, I decided to continue returning God’s tithe and giving back to my local church. That same week of this decision, my husband received a call from his workplace that the company was going to pay them through April 30 without using his sick leave, extended sick leave, or vacation hours.
A week later, my husband received an email that he could start working remotely so the patients can at least exercise with the help of a family member.
More than a month later, we both have been blessed. We have a roof, water, food. Best of all, I feel that my church also will be able to pay the utilities to be ready to open whenever the shelter in place is lifted.
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NKJV). God is faithful and always will be. Why should I not be faithful to Him?
— “America,” member, Fresno Remnant Seventh-day Adventist Church, California
More Than Convenience
I have used the AdventistGiving [online service] for more than a year, not giving it much thought. It was just another convenience that I took for granted. However, since the new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shelter-in-place executive order made by the mayor of Atlanta, the AdventistGiving platform has been a true blessing — even one that my 90-year-old mother is reluctantly giving a chance!
It’s a user-friendly process with built-in security. It captures all the areas for giving and lists other areas not (typically) known by most, which can encourage additional options. It automatically computes and tallies the total amount being donated. Last but not least, it provides an immediate receipt, with the funds being correctly linked to the designated church or location. Not just a convenience, but a real answer that provides for safe, consistent giving.
The AdventistGiving platform has been helpful to members, local treasurers, and conference administrators. The main advantages are convenience, accuracy, and time.
Members can choose when, where, amount, and place to make contributions.
Those contributing go on their church’s website, click on AdventistGiving, and make contribution preferences. This direct interaction with no “middleman” reduces error.
The operation usually takes a few seconds — literally. And time is also saved because local treasurers do not need to key data again.
With the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing, the AdventistGiving mechanism has increased in usage. Members are connected to giving locally and globally. Our members remain faithful to the cause of God.
As soon as any funds are placed in my account, and I review my check stub, I return God a tithe, and I give an offering and to building project funds. Unlike some, I am not disciplined enough to leave funds in my account until the church doors open again, so I give online.
I depend on God’s promises. By returning tithe as soon as the money reaches my account, I have to rely on Him to take care of whatever else might be missing. I always expect God to answer my prayers, and He expects me to give freely as He gives to me.
One night recently, our water heater stopped working. We didn’t know what was wrong. The pilot was still on. A repair person’s visit would cost US$100. We didn’t have any money to spare. I prayed. My husband remembered that he had a plumber friend, and the next morning he came over. He pressed a button, and the hot water resumed. Although we may have to get a water heater later, God spared us the expense at the moment. I am sure that when the time comes, He will provide.
“Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2, NKJV). Online giving is helping me to keep my desire to be faithful to God in all circumstances.
— Ortrene Gordon, South Atlantic Conference
I am “old school.” I like to write a check and put it in the offering plate. But with our churches shut down, it’s a little harder to do that!
With my wife’s encouragement, I have moved into the twenty-first century. I am returning tithe and offerings to my church through AdventistGiving and will continue to do so when our churches reopen. It is so easy! It makes my local treasurer’s job easier as well.
I will continue to put offerings in the offering plate when our churches are allowed to reopen, but it will be for the offering of the day. I believe as a pastor — for almost 43 years — and as local conference stewardship director, example leadership is important.
— Vialo Weis Jr., Indiana Conference
Drive-by Greetings and Online Giving
For pastors Phil and Jan White of the Simi Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern California, the transition from regular church services to live-streaming and online giving was seamless. The church was live-streaming services pre-pandemic and, for the past eight years, has been using AdventistGiving online. “A small percentage of the membership used adventistgiving.org before for convenience,” said local pastor Phil White. “And now, about 50 percent of our church family is using the service.”
The church had never before had more money in their “Love Fund.” “Members want to help their brothers and sisters in the church who are hurting and financially challenged,” White said.
The Whites offered to pick up groceries and attend to the needs of not only their elderly and most vulnerable members but every single church member. While online giving was encouraged, the pastors offered front-porch pickup of tithes and offerings. They delivered groceries, picked up medication, and dropped off gift cards for those who lost their jobs.
The first Sabbath in May, pastors Phil and Jan started a “drive-by greeting” 30 minutes after the live-stream worship. The first week, 20 people showed up, staying in their cars. The pastors greeted them, prayed with them, and handed out Sabbath School materials for adults and children.
This local church has learned how to thrive in a pandemic — with gratitude and humility.
—Connie Vandeman Jeffery, Pacific Union Conference