A Mississippi church offered its members a unique ministry opportunity this past December. Each person who attended one Sunday, from the bed babies to the oldest member, received $100 cash from the church’s overflowing budget with special instructions for its use.
Lloyd Sweatt, pastor of Meadowood Church, Amory, is quick to point out that this particular Sunday wasn’t about the church, but rather what the Lord wanted to accomplish. “People have been giving faithfully,” said the current president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. “Even during [the COVID-19 pandemic] giving was great.”
The pastor said he felt the church was at a place where something a little special could be done this past Christmas. “We came to believe our mission was here, to the church. There are so many needs our people have, so we decided we would give to our church members.”
“We planned through it with our deacons without telling anyone else,” Sweatt said. “We have 650 people who normally show up on Sundays, and we put a $100 bill in individual envelopes.”
The envelope read:
Meadowood Baptist Church has been blessed by many who faithfully tithe and give offerings to the Lord Jesus Christ through His church. (Meadowood also did not have as many “major” expenses during the year).
Meadowood Baptist Church gives to missions causes locally and globally throughout the year. At this time of the year, you are the mission, (either to receive a GIFT, or share a GIFT).
This is a gift for you! May our Lord bless you this Christmas, as well as encourage you and your family. Please use your GIFT in any way the Lord desires for you to use. If your GIFT is not needed by you personally nor your family, use your GIFT to bless others who may not be expecting any kind of GIFT. Whether you use the GIFT personally for your needs or to GIVE to bless others, give the Lord Jesus Christ the praise and glory he deserves.
Again, Merry Christmas!
Those in need
“We gave an envelope to everyone there,” Sweatt said. “We had about 16 or 17 babies in the nursery, and we asked that the babies be brought into the service. Visitors got envelopes; families got envelopes. For instance, a family with a mom, dad and two kids in the nursery got $400.”
Sweatt said there were members who received envelopes who really needed the gift but never would have asked for anything.
“God has blessed this,” Sweatt noted. “There were several families that needed it. I’ve gotten calls, handwritten letters, saying that they were able to give their children something they didn’t expect.”
He shared about one family where the husband and father of three children had just changed jobs, and they were temporarily without insurance. The couple has twin girls and a two-year-old boy, who has asthma and needed medicine.
“They got up that [Sunday] morning and wrote their tithe check. [The wife] said, ‘We didn’t know how we’d be able to do all the things we needed to this Christmas,'” Sweatt recalled.
“When they opened the envelope, they were just floored,” he said. “They couldn’t believe God would answer a prayer that quickly.” Other people knew about the needs of this family and also gave their envelopes to them as they were leaving church that day.
“This affirms to me that you give and it’s given back to you,” Sweatt stated, referring to Luke 6:38. “Our giving, even in the last two Sundays, has been remarkable. I believe God blesses the gift and the giver, and so many are experiencing that right now.”
There have been other stories, he shared. One group paid for the groceries of the woman in front of them at the checkout line at Walmart. Two or three people from a Sunday School class financially helped another family who aren’t members of the church whose son is receiving chemotherapy.
“That’s been an amazing thing I’ve seen,” Sweatt said. “It’s helped us turn away from ourselves to help others.”
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Tony Martin and originally published by the Baptist Record.