Sacrifice--What Does It Mean?

On the special week of sacrifice for missions.

A.C.F. is an associate editor of the Ministry.

More than half a day was spent in find­ing the house, but there it was hidden away back in the hills of a northeastern State. The family was very poor. The man was plowing the side of a hill with a hand plow, and digging holes with a pick for the planting of his corn. Their one-room home was clean and orderly. I had been visiting isolated members for my own spiritual blessing as well as for the purpose of shar­ing this fellowship with others.

It was the time of the year for the special missions appeal to bring in funds to extend the work of God into new areas. I used this opportunity to invite those with whom I was visiting to give liberally for this ad­vance of missions, but when I recognized the poverty in this home I had no heart to make a financial request of them. In fact, I had already planned to leave some money of my own, hidden under a plate or in some place where it could be found by the family after I was gone.

Can Within Can and Sack Within Sack

We had a blessed time—reading the Scriptures, talking, and praying. As I was ready to leave, the wife said, "Please, just a minute, we have something we want you to do for us." She pulled aside a curtain and took from the shelf a large tin container. Inside this container was a similar smaller one, and then another and another. Then there came paper sacks, one within an­other. Then came cloths, one folded within another. Very intently I watched the many unfoldings. Finally her hand held something that seemed of special value to her. She brought it to me and placed it in my hands, saying, "Brother Fearing, we want you to take this and use it for God's cause wherever you think it will do the most good." It was a roll of currency (later I counted twenty-eight one-dollar bills).

I hesitated—surely they could not afford to give this money. "It is all right," she con­tinued, "please take it. You see we have been saving this money to build a little lean-to on the side of our place here that we could use for a kitchen. But someone has been sending us some of the church papers and as we read them we came to realize how near we are to the second com­ing of Christ. The signs of His coming are evident everywhere and yet there is so much to be done, so many mission calls to be an­swered, so many places and people who have not heard of Christ's soon coming, and many of those who have heard are not prepared for it. We decided that we could do without our kitchen, and we want you to take this money and place it where you think it will do the most good for God's cause."

Have You Sacrificed a Kitchen?

As I walked along the paths and down the hillside to my automobile, I was con­scious of something extremely precious in my hand. Not just the money, but what it represented—the sacrifice and devotion of those who fully loved God. For many minutes I sat behind the steering wheel of my car, just thinking. Tears came to my eyes. Had I ever given up a kitchen so that God's cause could prosper? Had I ever given up anything that I really wanted, sacrificed it, done without it, that I might share what I had to fill the vast needs of God's advancing mission challenges? My friends on the hillside surely had done so. They so loved the world that they gave—truly a sacrificial gift!

As clergymen do we give to God only what we can afford to give, what we have left over after our own personal wants are fulfilled? On the other hand, what a re­warding experience it can be to covenant with the Lord for the amount we would like to present to Him as a gift. It may be far more than we can really afford, more than we have ever given Him before. Neverthe­less, a covenant can be made with God that if He will bless us and make it possible for us to accomplish it, this is the gift we wish to place at His feet for Him to multiply and transmute to the saving of souls for His kingdom.

The spirit of sacrifice is the spirit of God's people all over the world. It is the spirit of true Christianity. Salvation is inseparably linked with sacrifice. The Father "gave his only begotten Son." Jesus Christ our Lord gave "himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil world, ac­cording to the will of God and our Father" (Gal. 1:4). Then, "Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Cor. 8:9).

Down through history we have evidence of many sacrifices of homes, friends, honor, power, daily comforts, and even life itself. Many have suffered hunger, imprisonment, and persecution in their devotion to the cause of God. Many of our missionaries to­day know what it is to sacrifice home com­forts, friends, healthy conditions, and edu­cational advantages in their desire to serve their Master in lands afar. Yes, there are still men today pioneering and adventur­ing on perilous journeys into primitive sec­tions. In so doing they must be away from wife and children for weeks at a time. They must travel by foot, boat, oxcart, bicycle, jeep, truck; sleep wherever and upon whatever they can, with no thought of per­sonal comfort. They are constantly in dan­ger of all sorts of diseases.

One Million Bolivianos

Come with me onto the high Altiplano of Bolivia. Do you see that farmer from the Santa Fe Mission? Would you say that he is rich? Oh, no! he looks like the poorest of the poor. His colorful poncho (a shawl-type blanket) is old and worn. He needs a new skull-type hat, and it looks as if he has ac­tually tied rags around his sandals to hold them on his feet. Surely, this man has little of this world's goods.

Pastor Bert Elkins, president of the Bo­livia Mission, explains: "This man has walked eighty-five miles to come to this meeting. and he carried with him one mil­lion bolivianos to present as a gift to the mission." Now a boliviano is worth but a fraction of an American one-cent piece, but one million bolivianos is a large sum of money in Bolivia.

The brethren thought it might be his tithe. "Oh, no," he said, "I pay my tithe faithfully. The Lord has blessed me. He has been so good to me. It has been my dream, my goal, to give to my heavenly Father one million bolivianos before I die. This is from my heart. I am now so happy. Take this money and do with it what you wish for God's cause." No wonder Bert Elkins said he wept when he saw the sacrifice of this dear old farmer. How he was able to save one million bolivianos was beyond the un­derstanding of his brethren. Yet, there he was with his goal reached—about the hap­piest man in the world.

The Poor Give the Most

I was attending a workers' meeting in Be­lem, Brazil, the Paris of the equator, near the mouth of the Amazon River. This is the place where Pastor and Mrs. Halliwell started their jungle river work. Only three members were there to meet the Halliwells. Now there are nearly two thousand mem­bers in Belem alone, and 8,874 members in the surrounding North Brazil Union Mission. They tell me that more than 50 per cent of their laymen are actively en­gaged in a specific soul-winning program.

A careful study of their financial records puzzled me. I was surprised to see that they had a larger per capita record for giving to missions than even the churches of the larger industrial cities in the south of Brazil. How could this be? It must be a mis­take, for only one jeep, several motorcycles, and a few bicycles were in front of the meeting place—evidence of their lack of worldly goods. As far as I could see, most of the people came on foot.

I questioned the mission treasurer sitting beside me, "Is this possible—a larger per capita record than the conferences in the south?" He answered, "Yes, it is true!" "But how could these poor people give so much?" I questioned. "It is true, they are quite largely a poor people, and it is in­deed a miracle that we cannot fully com­prehend. Perhaps I can give you some idea as to how it is accomplished. For example, many of these people walk to church three, six, and even fifteen miles, instead of riding a bus, so they can add their bus money to their already planned offerings. They seem to live for one purpose—the prospering of God's cause! They are a completely dedi­cated people."

What a beautiful example of Christian sacrifice for the One they love so much. A happy man with a shining face told me aft­erward: "Oh, pastor, we live for one pur­pose—to finish the work God gave us to do. We want Christ to come soon."

Will We Set the Example?

In many places of the world we have much for which to be thankful, financially. Yet quick changes are taking place all around us. The shaping of world events points to the closing of doors which once were open. We must make haste. We must measure up to the responsibility thrust upon us by the thousands and thousands of new converts coming to the faith, and the thousands more pleading for teachers, med­ical personnel, pastors, and leaders of all kinds—to instruct, care for, and shepherd them.

The week of November 6-13 is set aside for the annual Week of Prayer and is also dedicated to a special Week of Sacrifice for missions. Throughout the years of this of­fering the ministry and workers of the Sev­enth-day Adventist Church have been the leading inspiration and example in sacri­ficial giving. Now is the time above all times to sacrifice for an offering commensurate with our deep conviction of the hour in which we live and our great love for the One who "so loved the world that he gave . . ."                                      

A. C. F.

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A.C.F. is an associate editor of the Ministry.

November 1965

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