IKNOW our Lord said – and I believe that it is true – that it is very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But I also believe, although it is not listed as one of the spiritual gifts, that some of you reading this have been given the gift of making money.
I would like you to prayerfully consider using this gift to fulfil our Lord’s great commission to make disciples of every nation. Mr Leong Seng Kok and his wife Sharon, from the Methodist Church of the Incarnation, did not think they had this gift. But they were willing to offer themselves to the Lord.
A few years ago, they approached the Methodist Missions Society (MMS) and volunteered themselves for the missions field. They had sufficient savings and wanted to dedicate the remainder of their working lives to missions. The MMS posted them to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
Their main responsibility was to help streamline the financial procedures and gather regular reports from all our churches and ministries. This they have done very well. In addition to that, they have helped our churches with several income-generating projects.
The crying need in the mission field is to help people become financially self-sufficient.
How can we give money to the less fortunate in a way that will not make them continually dependent on charity?
We need people who are good at handling money – investing money in economically-deprived areas in a way that will generate more money in the long term.
Mr and Mrs Leong knew next to nothing about that before they left Singapore for Thailand. But in the short span of two years, they have become very good at identifying opportunities for us to help the Thai churches help themselves.
They discovered that they have the gift of helping others make money!
Last year, for example, we loaned out 180,000 baht (approximate S$9,000) to 14 Lahu families (members of Santi Methodist Church) for corn farming.
A total revenue of 700,000 baht was reported (or a profit of 400,000 baht or S$20,000).
The Lord has blessed us in Singapore with great material wealth. I am sure He not only wants us to share our money with the less fortunate, but He also wants us to be thoughtful in the way we give that money.
In my frequent visits to the missions field, I constantly struggle to respond to requests for help. They know we have a lot of money and they boldly ask for it.
They need a loan to buy seed and fertilizer, a plough, a motorbike, a truck, a toilet, a drum set, or money to buy land and build a church, school fees for their children, a scholarship to attend Bible college, a scholarship to attend university and money to pay for medical bills.
People like Mr and Mrs Leong have helped me sharpen my thinking. There are so many needs, so many requests for money. How should we respond?
If that has been your experience when you have visited the missions field, and like me, you have been overwhelmed by the many needs and requests, and you are not sure what is the best way to help, please give me a call at 6478-4818 or email mms@ methodist.org.sg and I will be glad to discuss the matter with you.
If you have the gift of making money and you would like to invest some of your time and money in planting churches or helping the poor stand on their own feet, please call me to discuss possibilities.
Lord, help us to share our financial resources with the less fortunate in a way that will help them become financially independent in the long run.
The Rev Dr Norman Wong is the Executive Director of the Methodist Missions Society.