Revival. As church leaders, when we hear that word, there’s a certain connotation attached. At Oakwood Baptist Church, we hear it as a hearkening back to memories of bygone days, big tents, and other nostalgia. More than that, we know it as an awakening of purpose and truth. After a recent Compassion Sunday, we felt a revival of God’s Spirit. We could sense Him challenging the people to do more and to be more aware of what’s going on in the world!
Just as an old fashioned church revival requires a multi-faceted approach, so too does a spiritual revival within any church. Prayer and discipleship must be in place, as well as covering practical, logistical details. Our church is healthy, and our main goal in missions is to serve others. As a well-off church we are constantly seeking ways where we can use our resources to impact His Kingdom. For years we’ve had a longstanding relationship with Haiti. We do a lot of more of the same ministry that Compassion International does in country: a school, a feeding program, etc. For years we’ve built numerous churches and schools in Cape Haitian, located in the northern part of the country with the help of Living Hope Missions. For years, we have even had leaders sponsoring children in Haiti through Compassion International, had even met those children. Partnering on a deeper level with Compassion just made sense. It has allowed us to go further with our Kingdom work in Haiti, and to expand our reach around the world! We learned that if we can teach our people to be generous with someone else, they’ll be generous with us as well.
We sensed the revival in our church on a Sunday evening in April, after hosting an official “Compassion Sunday.” We focused on the realities of sponsoring a child, and were blessed to hear the story of Peter, a Compassion child that grew up in one of the projects in Africa. His being with us that day, watching his video and listening as he gave his personal testimony - it was a moving day. It brought an awareness, and that has been really beautiful to watch. An awareness that the world is really big, and that there is a wide array of experiences and circumstances. Our congregation had been generous, but they began looking outward rather than inward. After people go through this experience, the looks on their faces; it’s as if we all realize that there are so many stories out there and suddenly remember we are not the only story. This momentum has been sustained by our church staff, and through the support of Compassion, so that we can truthfully say our people are growing in the creativity of God and in the ability to love God’s people.
Give, and It will be Given to You
There is a very real fear present in churches that partnerships like ours with Compassion can detract from the monthly giving to the church itself. However, the Bible speaks differently about generosity, and that’s where our church has focused and where our revival is borne. In Luke 6:38 it reads: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (NIV). We have a different mentality that generosity begets generosity.
God is a big God. If you take care of other people, he’s going to take care of you and your flock. If you as a shepherd will give them a big vision for people, God will care about your little space in the world.