December is a dangerous time for that dollar bill in your pocket. You gotta love the little bells ringing at the doorway of every retailer and the bajillion pieces of mail stuffing your mailbox with last-minute pleas.
It’s that end-of-the-year rush for non-profits to meet their budgets and private citizens to round out their tax benefits for charitable giving. All-in-all a blessed time to give and receive, right?
Hubby Roy and I set our offerings aside in what we call a “Jesus Fund”—it’s money we want to share with folks over and above the tithe to our local church. After my husband’s fourteen years of pastoral ministry and his six years as a Bible college professor, you can imagine the gigantic number of friends, missionaries, and students we would love to bless through our Jesus Fund.
We’ve discovered a heart-rending fact, however: Though our Savior is infinite, our Jesus Fund is utterly finite.
The Lord faithfully replenishes the funds when needs arise, but like the rest of you, we must choose carefully with whom we share it and how much we give.
When God Makes It Clear
With one particular ministry, we’ve felt a clear calling to give since the early days of our pastoral ministry—and that partnership has grown stronger since the Lord opened doors for me in the publishing world. Here’s the story:
We first met John Maust, President of Media Associates International, when we stayed with his parents while candidating for our first ministry position in Nappanee, Indiana. We loved his folks and grew to love John and his family as well. We saw the global impact of MAI (Media Associates International) and the benefit of training Christian writers to share Jesus throughout the world. Only later would I realize the impact John Maust and MAI would have on me.
John to the Rescue
I attended my first writers’ conference in 2001. Baltimore. All by myself—a miserable experience. An editor laughed in my face. An agent nearly called me a heretic. I wanted to go home and never write again. But guess who was teaching one of the workshops?
Yep—John Maust, the son of our dear friends at my home church. I witnessed, firsthand, the gentle yet powerful presence of this man with a passion to reach the world with quality Christian writing.
In the years that followed, I watched him travel to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America—parts of the world others would deem too dangerous. Not John. With joy and a quiet confidence, he teaches all who come to learn.
Oh, That Gomer and Hosea
I have another fun story, so will you indulge me a few moments more? Many of you will recognize the wildly popular Christian novel, Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It tells the story of Gomer and Hosea, a godly man who loves and pursues a prostitute—at God’s command—to illustrate God’s holy love for Harlot Israel.
Francine wrote the story as an 1800’s Prairie Romance—beautiful story—and it’s been a bestseller for twenty years—twenty years! (And it’s MY favorite book of all-time!)
The story of Hosea and Gomer has always been precious to me. So much so that my March 2013 release, Love in a Broken Vessel, told their story set in biblical times. Imagine my joy when I read this touching story in a recent MAI newsletter:
The Saudi woman customarily wore not only the long black cloak, or abaya, but covered her face, eyes and hands as well. She later despaired of her ultra-conservative religion, however, and came across an Arabic translation of Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love, based on the Hosea story of Scripture.
“If there is a God, He must be like the one described in that book,” she told a friend. The book started her on a faith journey that led to a personal relationship with Christ.
Francine’s gifted writing touched this woman’s heart, and my financial gifts will help John’s ministry teach Arab authors to produce more powerful fiction—in their own language. They won’t have to wait for translations to finally come their way.
Anytime folks mention money, giving, charities, etc.—it’s dangerous. They run the risk of sounding greedy or needy. I assure you, I’m neither.
I’m sharing this woman’s story about Redeeming Love because I’m bragging on God, and I’m proud of the good work of my faithful friend, John. I met him in 1993—twenty years ago—and he’s still at it. Remarkable.
If you find yourself at the end of the year with a dollar bill burning a hole in your pocket, I’m sure MAI would put it to good use. God is in the writing business. Fiction. Non-fiction. Books. Periodicals. Cards. Letters. Journals. Blogs. I’m so thankful for qualified, passionate, willing leaders like the folks at MAI. To learn more about their ministry, click here to visit MAI’s (Media Associates International) website.
- Discover the reaction of a Saudi woman after reading REDEEMING LOVE in Arabic. @maimaust
- Though our Savior is infinite, our offerings are finite, so choose wisely how you give. @maimaust
- Meet my friend, John Maust, and glimpse his passion for teaching the world to write. @maimaust
- Do you have a question I can pass along to John for you?