Church uses seed money to raise more money for missions

Saturday, September 1, 2001

Not everyone can preach like the apostle Paul or will devote their life to foreign mission service, but members of St. Andrew Lutheran Church learned great lessons about giving, sacrifice and faith during a Mission India campaign this summer.

Mission India is a parachurch ministry that provides literacy training and materials to the Indian people. The organization, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., also plants Christian churches in the primarily Hindu nation.

The Rev. Paul Short, pastor at St. Andrew, visited India for 10 days in late February at the invitation of Mission India organizers. He spent time in the country, seeing how the people learned to read and what they were sharing about their faith.

As soon as Short returned to Cape Girardeau, he began thinking about ways to get the local church involved. There wasn't an opportunity to make a single donation through the church budget, so Short and church leaders chose a different plan.

Mission India will give churches $10 per member age 10 and older. Each participant is asked to multiply that money and give it back to Mission India.

Short challenged his congregation at St. Andrew Lutheran Church to multiply their giving for the offering. The church distributed $4,500 in May and collected $16,000 more than that by the time the campaign had ended in late August.

"This was a way we could all be in mission work," Short said. "It's an opportunity to demonstrate Christian concern for people that Christ loves that we don't know. It gives us an opportunity to join in a mission project that affects the lives of people we'll never see until we get to heaven."

A chance to be creative

For some members at St. Andrew, the project was just purely fun. It allowed them a chance to be creative and use their gifts.

Two women in the church pooled their resources, used donated lumber and painted wooden stars that could be used to decorate plants and gardens. The women sold the stars around the Fourth of July and raised $1,000 with that single project, said Short.

"It showed the ingenuity and gifts of the congregation," the pastor said.

Ken Wallace used his talent to help raise money for the project by writing song lyrics and finding someone to record the song. He wrote a Southern Gospel song called "Thank You Lord for Saving Me," and recorded a CD single along with fellow church member Brandon Hahs on vocals.

The CD sale raised about $250, Wallace said. "It was a good opportunity to introduce the song and help the people in India."

That project was one that should give Wallace good exposure in the industry, Short said. "The effects of that will go way beyond this project."

The framework for the Mission India project comes from Luke 19:11-27, where Jesus tells the story about multiplying the talents.

"People could do whatever they wanted with that 10 dollars," Short said.

Some families pooled their money and returned that amount. Others planted gardens and sold the produce or held bake sales or garage sales and used the $10 to buy supplies.

One couple organized a 5K run, charging $5 per entry fee and using their $20 for advertising costs. Another couple collected $400 in pledges for a 250-mile ride on the Katy Trail.

The project drew the congregation together for fellowship and for spiritual lessons, Short said. "I sensed an excitement. Some people weren't quite sure what to do with it, and others took it and ran.

"It helped us reach outside of ourselves and go beyond our own homes, state and country."

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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