By Dennis Messimer
In the 1950s, church leaders in South Africa set up a program that challenged every church member to give an annual gift for the purpose of building church buildings. That program has continued through the years, and even though the amount given is rarely more than a few dollars per member, the tens of thousands who contribute make it possible to build two or three new buildings every year.
When a local congregation wants to build, it contacts the committee that administers the funds. A committee member meets with the congregation to make sure everything will be done legally and properly, and when the committee members are satisfied, they tell the church they can start building.
Most of the buildings are concrete block. When the building reaches window height, the committee buys the windows and doors. When all the blocks are laid, the committee buys the roof. These buildings are typically better maintained than when the funds come from other countries.
Give What You Have
Linda and I started raising support to go to the mission field in 1969. That year we visited nearly 100 churches. We visited supporting churches regularly, but many others were never visited again. In 2009 we met a woman and her daughter we had not seen in 40 years. They told us that we were still on their prayer list, and that they prayed for us every day. Even though their church did not support us financially, we believe that their prayers were every bit as important as the monetary help we received.
God Blesses Giving
Throughout the Bible God’s people were challenged to give generously to God’s work. When that happens today, churches thrive. Through the years many European governments chose to support their churches through taxes. Sadly, in the countries where this has happened, the church has grown weaker instead of becoming stronger. God has always intended that his work be supported by his people.
Dennis Messimer is minister to international students with the Christian Campus House in Columbia, Missouri. He and his wife, Linda, served as missionaries for 39 years in Belgium, South Africa, and Mozambique. They have four children and will soon welcome their eighth grandchild into their family. (Dennis was also editor Shawn McMullen’s fifth-grade Sunday school teacher.)