My husband and I have always tithed to our church, but a few years ago we began giving beyond our tithe. It started one year as I was doing the taxes. I looked at the amount of money we had made versus the amount that had been given away and felt a deep-seated conviction. Where had the money even gone? What did we have to show for all that income? I felt God calling us to give more, so I approached my husband about it. We agreed to pray separately about our giving for the next year — both the amount and where to give — and then talk later.
I prayed diligently, and kept coming up with the number $13,000, and one word, “orphans.” For our finances, $13,000 represented a large chunk of money. I had no idea how we could possibly give away that much of our income in addition to our regular tithe. But God just kept saying that same number. Finally, my husband and I compared notes. He had been told the exact same thing — $13,000 and orphans. That settled that!
We made a commitment that we would give $13,000 to orphans in the next year. We had no idea where the money would come from, but we trusted God to provide what He had told us to give. The next step was figuring out where to give. Many, many organizations benefit orphans, so where should the money go?
I started at Dillon International, since we were familiar with the agency through adoption and trusted how they would use the money. At the time Dillon had several lists on their website of different places worldwide where you could donate and help orphans. I began looking at the countries that represented our children, and noticed an orphanage that took in children off the streets, giving them a home and education. My husband and I prayed about that particular cause, and decided that was where we would give the money when it came.
As the year began we started squirreling money away in our “orphan fund.” I had assumed it would take us nearly the full year to save that amount of money, but I was amazed when we had saved that amount in only a few months. We wrote a check to Dillon, specifying the orphanage we wanted to benefit, and expected only a tax receipt in return.
Instead, a few days later I came home to a message on my answering machine. The development director of Dillon explained through tears that Dillon staff had been praying for exactly $13,000 to fund that orphanage for the rest of the year.
I listened to that message several times with tears in my own eyes. We had not given out of any huge desire to participate in God’s plan; it was just a conviction of guilt that we had so much when others had so little.
Now, however, our attitude towards giving has completely changed. My husband and I pray annually for what we should give and where, and we do it with a sense of excitement – where is God working this year? What is he going to do with these funds?
Sometimes we send a check off and get only a tax receipt in return. Other times, we have been privileged to see God’s hand moving in mighty and profound ways. One year we were told to set a certain amount aside. We did so, and waited for further instructions. Sure enough, later in the year we were able to meet a need that had not even existed when we first set aside that money.
I love seeing God’s hand at work, but now I realize that I don’t have to see those results to know they are happening. When we give prayerfully God is using that money in ways we can’t even fathom.