And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 NASB
When we visited Larry and JoAnn in Arizona the last time in early February 2012, we learned that Larry had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Larry and JoAnn had once worked at Stonecroft Ministries. We have known them for several years and visit them each time we are in Arizona. Like so many of our donors, they are a godly couple with limited means but big hearts! They love what Village Missions does in sending couples to country churches.
We visited Larry and JoAnn again on our recent visit to Arizona in March. The news was not good. Larry couldn’t handle the chemotherapy they were giving him and was hospitalized three times in the short time since we saw them last. They had made the difficult decision to stop chemotherapy. As we were leaving, a social worker stopped by to talk with them about hospice care.
I am telling you this because of what happened during our meeting with these dear folks. Larry and JoAnn, with tears in their eyes, apologized to me because they would no longer be able to give to Village Missions they way they had in the past. Their medical expenses are simply too great to be able to do so.
I am amazed at how often donors will apologize to me that they have to cut back on their giving to Village Missions. A few days ago, a donor wrote that his “precious wife of 61 years, is in an Alzheimer’s Center, now at $6400 per month.” He still managed to send in $25 and assure me of his continued prayers on our behalf.
Several things have been rewarding about my position as Director of Village Missions, but meeting and learning of such people who follow in the spirit of the widow’s mite is among my chief privileges. Their generous spirit humbles me. I thank God that we have such partners in our ministry of bringing the Gospel to country communities.
Let me tell you one more thing (among many others) that’s encouraging to me, this time regarding Village Missionaries. Village Missions does not have many large donors. We only have about 200 people who have given more than $2,000 in the last two years. However, a significant percentage of those donors who have given above $2,000 are Village Missionaries. How rewarding and encouraging to know that our own missionaries not only serve sacrificially but also give sacrificially to advance the cause of Christ in rural North America! Again, I am humbled to stand with such a dedicated group of men and women.
Of course, our current financial woes are cause for concern. But if God is bringing places of great need to our attention, leading people to apply so that we have people to send, and causing His servants to give sacrificially, should we not be encouraged and hopeful? Righting our financial ship will require sacrifice on all our parts—members of the Village Missions family as well as the churches we serve. But surely the above examples will inspire us all to strive together to make sure that men and women, boys and girls in rural communities across our country hear about Jesus.
(I posted this article in our Family Newsletter in March 2012. Since I’ve just returned from another visit to Arizona, and once again was awed by the donors who give to Village Missions, I thought I would post this on the blog. Larry went home to be with the Lord last July. Larry and Joann were able to sell their home and move to a retirement home before he passed away. Joann misses Larry terribly but she is doing quite well and is still active on the missions committee of Grace Bible Church).