Donating things for the cause of world evangelism

ebook: Our balanced attack -- How Nazarenes finance world evangelism (part 9)

This ebook by Howard Culbertson was originally published by what is now The Foundry for the Nazarene mission book series under ISBN number 083-411-4186. It is presented here in updated form.

9. Cleaning out garages and attics

My toolbox contains a very special screwdriver and a pair of pliers. Nazarene Mission Team members from Northeast Oklahoma gave them to me while working together on the Moncalieri church in northern Italy. I treasure those tools. They served me well in Europe and in the Caribbean. Every time I see them, I remember Richard and June McGuire from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

When we moved to Haiti, I soon discovered that what the McGuires did was not unique. Nazarene Mission Teams teams headed to a mission field often put tools and equipment in their suitcases. They'll use them on that job, then leave them for use on future construction projects.

These tools are emblematic of an important aspect of Nazarenes' balanced support of world evangelism. This one involves giving, too. This time, it's not the giving of dollars or time. It's the giving of belongings.

Ransacking other people's attics

Years ago, members of what is now Nazarene Missions International began tearing cotton bed sheets into strips and rolling them into bandages. Some Nazarene medical facilities still can use these cotton bandages which NMI members make from old bed sheets.

This giving of textile materials to world evangelism has mushroomed into shipments weighing in the thousands of pounds. In one recent year, 12 oceangoing containers, each carrying 4 to 6 tons of used clothing, were shipped to Nazarene mission fields. These containers went to Mozambique, Malawi, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

On a smaller scale, Nazarene Mission Teams that go to countries often empty their suitcases as they leave. When they go home, they take only the clothes they're wearing. What they leave behind goes to pastors and to needy families in the country where they've worked. United States churches getting new choir robes have sometimes sent their old choir robes for use by Nazarene choirs in other countries such as Haiti.

In Haiti, this giving of material goods has meant empty pill bottles for the clinic on the Bible College campus as well as local church dispensaries. We got lots of them (and used lots of them). Giving material goods means people collecting sample medicines from doctors and sending them to us (ensuring, of course, they're not past expiration dates!). Medical supply companies wanting to do a good deed (while also getting a tax write-off!) willingly donate supplies and equipment. Alert Nazarenes have snatched up those supplies and equipment for Nazarene mission fields.

I love parades!

For Haiti and other countries, this receiving of donated material goods has meant musical instruments. My involvement with these began when we were back in the U.S. during the time we were transferring from Italy to Haiti. While we were in California on some speaking engagements Pastor Charles Brightup asked if we could use an accordion to take to Haiti. I rarewly turn down anything. So, we took that accordion to Haiti where I discovered that the accordion is the primary musical instrument for many Haitian congregations. So I gave Rev. Brightup's accordion to a church needing one. Then I began writing to everyone we knew or could think of to ask for used accordions. That letter-writing campaign and subsequent follow-up netted us more than 250 used accordions. Those accordions would have had a retail value of more than $25,000. What a tremendous addition to our balanced attack!

A lady in Oklahoma had bought an accordion 25 years before, hoping to learn to play. She never got around to it. When she recounted this story to me, I told her that 25 years earlier she just thought she was buying that accordion for herself. The Lord already had His eye on it for Haiti!

Haitian churches also use other instruments. Some have bands that play not only in church services but also in frequent parades. Prof. Harlow Hopkins at Olivet Nazarene University heard of Haiti's need for musical instruments. Going through ONU's band storage room, he found several unused but good band instruments which he shipped to Haiti.

As I've spoken to Nazarenes about Haiti's need for musical instruments, people have given me not only accordions but also:

For years, my mother was my volunteer "instrument packer." In one two-year period, she prepared more than 250 musical instrument parcels for shipment to Florida. From there, Missionary Flights International took them to Port-au-Prince on one of their weekly flights. The retail value of all those donated instruments? Over $25,000.

At Enid (Oklahoma) First Church, then-pastor Jim Cooper rejoiced with his people at the end of one of their Faith Promise Convention weekends. They had pledged nearly $30,000. That weekend, they had also given an accordion, two trumpets, and a guitar. In the evening service, the Faith Promise thermometer on the platform showing the amount of money pledged that weekend also had those musical instruments grouped around it.

The miracle jeep

Larry and Martha Wilson went to Haiti some years ago as Specialized Assignment personnel. One of their prayers, as they held some deputation services before leaving, was for money to purchase a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Haiti. As they came down to their last service, their hopes for a jeep began to fade. They hadn't raised nearly enough money. Without a miracle in that last service, they would fall far short. Undaunted, Larry and Martha committed to the Lord what seemed an insurmountable hurdle.

After that last service in New England, a couple approached them. They asked if the Wilsons needed a jeep. This couple had a nearly new one. During the service, they felt impressed enouigh to offer it to Larry and Martha as a gift. Praising the Lord, Larry and Martha took the keys and drove the jeep to Florida for shipment to Haiti.

Through the years, other cars have been given to Nazarene World Missions as part of estate settlements. Even real estate has been given for world evangelism. Sometimes, these "in-kind" gifts are sold to get cash to plow into ministries. They originally came as possessions, however, and not as cash. What a help they have been in carrying on Kingdom work of helping the blind to see, cleansing the lepers, and preaching the gospel to the poor.

Warranty service on an old copier

Returning to Italy after our first furlough, we took with us a used photocopier. Colorado Springs Trinity Church had given it to us. During our second four-year term of service, that SCM copier made copies for the Italy District, for the Italian literature ministry, and for the Florence local church. We didn't have the money to buy one. The Lord gave us that one through the generosity of a local church.

That copier was like most machines. It would occasionally break down. Not very many parts for it were available in Italy. What we needed then was not cash, but parts. Stepping in to find and send us copier parts free of charge was a Nazarene family in Salem, Oregon. In one sense, therefore, our copier had come with a warranty covering parts -- although we didn't know it at the time. The work of the Kingdom in Italy continued to advance because of the multi-channeled giving of Nazarenes in North America.

Wedding bells

Caribbean Regional Director James Hudson once led a drive to get wedding dresses for Haiti. People from all across the United States emptied cedar chests. The reason?

Well, when adults get converted in Haiti, one of the things they need to do to straighten up their lives is to get legally married. Churches often plan mass wedding ceremonies on the same day as a baptismal service. In Dr. Hudson's special drive, more than 100 used wedding dresses were shipped to Haiti to use in new converts' weddings. Many of these are now hanging in closets at district offices across Haiti. They'll be loaned out again and again to local churches. During our last home assignment, I got several more wedding dresses given to me by people who had heard of Haiti's need for them. We didn't keep good calculations, but I'm sure the value of the wedding dresses sent to Haiti would be in the thousands of dollars. They've been a significant addition to our balanced attack.

Five years after the Texas merger that formed the Church of the Nazarene, the Southern California District began a boxwork program. The idea was to ship boxes of personal supplies to missionary families. Headed by Ada Bresee (daughter-in-law of Phineas F. Bresee), this idea was officially sanctioned on a denominational level in 1921 by the group that would eventually become Nazarene Missions International.

Several years ago, to better personalize our missions program, boxwork was expanded into Links. Those letters used to stand for "Loving, Interested Nazarenes, Knowing and Sharing." Because that acronym doesn't translate into other languages, it's just "Links" now. For two years at a time, the global NMI office assigns missionaries to a district. For many churches, Links has meant a chance to lovingly pick out a few things at the store and send them overseas to a missionary family. Some of our children's biggest thrills come in opening parcels sent by people we had never personally met. Through Links, we've made a lot of friends we've not yet seen.

Check before you ship

All these in-kind gifts -- tax-deductible as charitable giving in the United States -- increase the effectiveness of World Evangelism Fund dollars. However, before packing up and shipping anything. you should write or talk to the global NMI office or to the missionaries on the field. Customs regulations in some countries make receiving parcels impossible for people there. In other countries, high fees make it impractical. You don't want to cost the missionary more trouble and expense than the item is worth. So check first.

Our balanced attack includes more than money. Each year it also gets thousands of dollars of supplies and equipment shipped to mission fields. . . . [ continue reading ]

  Page:   ←Prev     |     1. Football and missions giving     |     2. Budget: A bad word doing good  things     |     3. We called it general, but it's  very specific     |     4. Peanut butter and jelly   |   5. The Nazarene Construction Company   |   6. I was hungry and you gave  me something     |     7. Giving more with less pain   |   8. Doubling and tripling our investments   |   Conclusion     |     Next→ 

    -- Howard Culbertson,

Doing more

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