This October, I will be celebrating seven years of ministry at Amberlea. It has been a rich and precious time.
Over these years God has shown up in powerful ways. There is one example that I would like to share with you.
About four years ago, Amberlea was in a substantial financial crunch. It was all the Session could think and talk about. We were unable to pay the basic bills on time, and staff were having to put off receiving pay cheques until the bank account replenished. The approved budget was not being met and the expenses were being cut but still there was a shortfall. Not only was it a stressful time, it was hugely distracting. Money has a way of doing that.
It was decided by Session that it was time to let the congregation know the financial situation. So on this particular Sunday, an announcement was made, with a Powerpoint slideshow so everyone knew we were serious ;) revealing that were $8,250.00 short. The number remained on the screen during the announcement like a bitter reminder. The announcement was made and it was not spoken of again that morning.
At the end of the service, I went into my office to drop off my stuff and was followed by one of the elders.
“Mona, can we talk?” I really wanted to say no, because I didn’t want to hear what this loving and very concerned elder had to say, but I didn’t.
“Of course,” and I motioned for the elder to have a seat.
After shutting the office door, the elder sat down and began, “I think before we start another month with this deficit we need to consider making some drastic changes.”
I knew where this was going, and it would be the logical next step but something inside me cried, “No. Have faith. Wait on God!”
“I understand what you are saying but cutting staff or hours is out of the question. We are doing God’s work and I know in my heart that God is going to provide. Please hold off on this conversation, we only just informed the congregation. Give them an opportunity to respond to….”
Before I finished my sentence, there was a knock at my door. I looked at the elder, who nodded affirmingly to answer.
At my door stood a couple. They had left the church immediately after the service and then returned, “Sorry to interrupt, but this is rather important, can we speak with you a minute?”
At this request the elder got up and left the office, the couple sat down. I sat across from them wondering what had happened.
“Is everything ok?”
“Yes, everything is fine, we wanted to give you this”, handing me a cheque for $250. I looked at it quickly and turned it over and placed it on my lap. They went on, “We were driving home and both felt so convicted to respond to the announcement. We hope that helps. Amberlea is doing such amazing work and we don’t want the money situation to distract you from what God is calling you to do.”
I was moved.
“Thank you soooo much for your generosity and your faithfulness. I was just saying how we need to have faith regarding this current financial situation.”
We chatted some more, caught up on children and life and then I hugged them both, before they walked to the door.
As I got up to follow them out I turned over the cheque and stopped dead in my tracks.
“Oh”, I said. I think it came out as a squeal.
They turned to look at me.
“This cheque is for the full amount of our deficit, the amount we put up on the screen!” When I glanced at it earlier I misread the 8 for a dollar sign. “Oh, my, thank you, thank you!”
I lunged toward them to give them another hug, tears begging to be released.
“We were wondering why you didn’t respond that way earlier!” she said. We all laughed, apologizing that I really should be wearing reading glasses.
They made their way out the door.
Through the glass window of the Admins office , I saw the Elder speaking with the counters. I calmly handed the cheque to the elder and said, “God at work”. If I had a mic I would have dropped it. Jaws hit the floor and God was praised!
It is utterly brilliant to watch God show up and show off!
Thank God for the obedience, faithfulness and generosity of that couple and of so many of you. And because of countless examples like that, we as a Session, and as a church understand that we must be responsible but more importantly, together, we must be FAITHFUL.
Together we are stronger.
Together being faithful is easier.
Together we can faithfully be who God is calling us to be!