FENTON, MI – Knock, knock, knock! The worn, lightweight aluminum screen door opened up toward our 12 year old faces. We were nervous. Tom stood behind me trembling in his tattered Converse sneakers, stained t-shirt, and gym shorts. Despite the summer heat, both of us froze in fear while our brains were screaming for us to run away when we saw Mr. Poindexter open the door with an impatient sigh.
You see our neighbor Mr. P, as we called him, scared all of the kids on my street. He and his wife didn’t have any children so we didn’t really know him. All we knew is that when we crossed the corner of his yard to get to the little store or the ball field that he wasn’t happy with us. Mr. P wasn’t a screamer. He was quiet. Dead serious quiet! His glares made our hearts stop so on normal days we didn’t bother Mr. P.
This particular summer day, back in the 70s was different though. Tom and I were building a fort out in the woods behind our houses. For 3-4 weeks we noticed that Mr. P was collecting wood from what we thought was a basement remodel. His scrap wood was collected on the ground at the side of his garage. On this particular hot hazy summer day, Tom and I decided that one of us was going to ask Mr. P for that scrap timber. Since I lived closest to Mr. P I would be the one to do the talking. “Mr. Poindexter,” I stuttered as each syllable stuck in my throat. “Tom and I couldn’t help but notice the scrap lumber laying beside your garage.” As I finished that opening line I think Mr. P glared at us even harder as if to say, “What business is it of yours!” I continued with a nervous tremor in my voice, “Sir, if you don’t have any plans for that lumber may Tom and I use it for our fort in the woods?”
Mr. P replied, “No. I don’t have plans right now, but I might later.” With the thump of the word “later” came another long stare, silence that seemed to go on forever. I still believe part of my life ebbed out of my soul that day from his frightening look. Somehow I was able to form the words, “Okay sir. Sorry we bothered you.” as we turned and walked away much quicker than we had arrived.
Some forty years later, I happened to run into Mr. Poindexter again. This time it was in my parents’ yard while visiting with my wife and children. He said, “Tony, do you remember when you and your little friend asked for that wood beside my garage years ago?” I said, “Sure do Mr. Poindexter. I’m sorry we bothered you that day.” Mr. P held up his hand as if to gently silence me then continued, “No, I’m the one who should apologize. I don’t know what got into me back then. I have always regretted not giving you that lumber. It all rotted after being exposed to the autumn rains and winter snows. It rotted and ever since I have regretted not letting you have that stack of wood. You were good kids and I should have given it to you.” I accepted his heart-felt apology all the while thinking to myself, “Wow, an apology forty years later.”
Isn’t that the way we are with a lot of things in our lives, in our families, and in our churches? We buy, we hoard, and we don’t share. We justify our collections by convincing ourselves that one day, when we have enough then we will share. In Luke 16:9 (NLT), Jesus explains the emptiness of selfishness and the eternal results of generosity, “Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home.”
Please, pay close attention here or you’re going to miss it. Summer is coming to a close. A new church year is about to start. Many of you will review the annual church budgets this fall. It’s time for you to let go of the “lumber laying beside the garage” and let your funds extend God’s Kingdom. Here are two meaningful options that come to mind during this time of the year:
The State Missions Offering & the Bambi Lake Retreat & Conference Center Restoration Project – In September, we are kicking-off a campaign with the theme “Because we believe in the power of one.” One more person, one more church, and one more contribution can make a difference! The state retreat center is where our churches and God fellowship together and inspire one another to strive for greater aims. Please, lead your congregation to give generously each week or each month to this incredible undertaking.
Cooperative Program (CP) – For the first time in history, every church treasurer can make the church’s contribution to the Cooperative Program securely online at bscm.org. In fact, a recurring donation can be set-up where funds are automatically transferred from the church to the state convention. Those funds help us help churches in Michigan. Those CP funds help 20,000 students study for ministry and missions. Those CP funds help supply the needs of 8,500 missionaries and their children all over the world.
Please, don’t let forty years pass before you realize the “lumber has rotted.” Mr. Poindexter and I agree, sharing is better than hoarding. Join the movement of God in Michigan. Great things are happening. People’s lives are changing. Believe in the power of one!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.