Nine messages into a Facebook Messenger conversation
...in January 2018 with a man she just met via a post online, Karen Heuby, a member of Sandborn First Christian Church in southern Indiana, was invited to come to India to not just meet but to TEACH pastors who work with Aditya Naveen Kumar.
The story of an unlikely ministry relationship.
Aditya was desperately trying to connect with a ministry SFCC serves with in Butler, IL called Love Packages, which collects and ships new and used Bibles and other Christian literature to ports all over the world that can use English materials. After seeing Karen comment on a Love Packages Facebook post, Aditya reached out for help to get material for the people to whom he ministers around Delhi, India. Over the course of the next few days and weeks, Aditya formed a bond with Karen and her husband Jeff, and in time, many other members of SFCC. After a delegation of three traveled to India to meet Aditya, his family, and see his ministry firsthand, SFCC eventually began supporting Aditya's ministry "Anisha Charitable Trust," alongside of 10+ other current missions/ministries. What both Aditya and SFCC quickly discovered was that God most certainly orchestrated this relationship.
Let's back up a little.
SFCC is a 140+ year-old church that averages around 100 in attendance in a community with a population of 359. One of the church's long-held traditions was the monthly mission offering received separately from the general offering on the first Sunday of each month. Whatever was collected would dictate the church's ability to support outside missions/ministries, along with the distribution of local benevolence. In September 2014, the church leadership team took the step of faith to do away with the mission offering and instead begin tithing the general offering. The congregation was encouraged to give to the regular offering what they normally would have placed in the special monthly offering for missions.
What God did next blew up and grew up the faith of anyone who was paying attention to SFCC's finances.
As Christians regularly discover in their personal lives regarding the blessings of giving, SFCC as a corporate body discovered as well: That you can't out-give God. Offerings increased over time, allowing the church to have more than enough for all regular expenses, salaries, and repair and maintenance. So, God led the leadership to increase the tithe to missions to 12% after a few years, then to 15% the subsequent year. As long as God continues to bless SFCC, the commitment remains to keep funneling HIS money to those who need it to do ministry.
This isn't a story about a smaller church's faith or accomplishments but about a God who is always faithful and always knows what He's doing.
PART of the fruit of the decision to tithe is that SFCC was given the opportunity to share more with every mission/ministry they previously supported, as well as bring on new ministry partners, such as Anisha Charitable Trust. This prayerful and financial partnership with ACT has led to thousands more Indian people being reached with the gospel, and there has been a great Kingdom ripple effect. TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY.
SFCC Offering Trends
Over the past decade, SFCC has seen the hand of God all over our finances, as giving has more than doubled. The leadership has the understanding that the church is not a bank. While it's prudent to have a sufficient operating fund and remain prepared for inevitable facility repairs, what is given is not hoarded but is prayerfully used to help grow the Kingdom in our area and around the world.
This is a lesson God has taught our smaller church.
We simply do not have the power to limit what our infinite God can do. What we can do is pursue Him wholeheartedly, seek His guidance, and partner with Him to keep loving, serving, and connecting people to Christ. It's one of the greatest blessings to get a front row seat as He shows off His power, bringing glory to His name.