FENTON, MI – Shar and I were leading the church we planted in Brazil to build our first building. It was a tough time to enter into a building project. Inflation had been crippling the nation for years. Unemployment was high, and the people were experiencing harsh economic realities. To make matters worse, at one point, there were three different currencies in circulation. I had read about hyperinflation during the World War, but I had never experienced it. There was a time in Brazil when I walked around with bills in my pockets that had 100,000 written on them that could hardly buy a popsicle. The value of the money in my wallet went down every day I didn’t spend it. A few weeks after we arrived in the country, we had to wait over two hours for the bank we used to have enough cash on hand for us to buy appliances. We walked out of the bank carrying a small bag of money and a fanny pack full of cash.
These were hard times, especially for our Brazilian brothers and sisters. It was tempting to not ask them to give. We resisted the temptation to ask family and friends in the states to help us fund the building project. We chose to teach that the resources are in the harvest, and that God loves a cheerful giver. We led the church to buy a load of bricks when we could. We hired a mason when we could, and we did what we could as a church family. Little by little, the foundation was laid and walls went up. Sometimes, it was only half a wall at a time. We went a long time with holes in the walls where windows would one day be. There was no option to borrow money. The building was built and finished a little at a time. Today, it’s a beautiful facility that has been added onto many times, but it took years to get to where it is.
I’ve been involved in a number of projects that overwhelmed me in the beginning. I’ve learned that what looks insurmountable is doable when God is in it and consistent actions are taken to move the project forward. It’s a lesson that I needed to remember when we set our Frances Brown State Mission’s Offering Goal this year.
Five hundred thousand dollars! $500,000.00! One dollar 500,000 times. It doesn’t matter how you write it or say it: That’s a lot of money! Our Convention, under the visionary leadership of Pastor Tim Patterson, has set this goal for the Frances Brown Offering for State Missions. It’s a monumental goal - basically five times more than State Mission Offerings of the past. It’s a God sized goal to get us started on a major renewal project at Bambi Lake Retreat and Conference Center.
There has been a lot of speculation in recent years about the future of Bambi Lake. I have been asked numerous times over the last two years if there were plans to close the camp. I have assured people time and time again that no such plans exist. There are no discussions at our state office to sell or give Bambi away. In fact, this goal is our declaration that “It’s a new day at Bambi.” I realize there is so much concern for the future of Bambi because attendance at the camp has been declining in recent years and because the camp needs a major updating today for the future.
I am challenging Michigan Baptists to do two things to change both these realities.
1. Visit Bambi. If you have never been to Bambi or have not recently, it’s time make a visit. There’s a new atmosphere at the camp. It’s hard to describe, but people feel and see it. Updates are happening all over the campus. A number of our churches have sent mission teams to paint, remodel, clean up, cut trees, build picnic tables, and a whole lot more. These volunteers have made an incredible impact on the look and feel of Bambi. They’ve given a great beginning. We are grateful for their hard work and ministry to our churches. They are leading the way forward.
2. Give sacrificially. Michigan Baptists are blessed to have a place of such natural beauty and peace. God often speaks to us through the majesty of His creation. The Psalmist declared, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Bambi has been this kind of place for me and so many others. It’s the kind of place Michigan Baptists need as we serve God together.
How can Michigan Baptists reach this goal? Here are just a few examples:
Five hundred people could give $1,000 through their churches.
Two hundred churches could give $2,500 each.
One hundred churches could give $5,000 each.
One hundred twenty-five churches can make it happen:
Twenty-five churches could give $10,000
Twenty-five churches could give $5,000
Twenty-five churches could give $2,500
Twenty-five churches could give $1,500
Twenty-five churches could give $1,000.
Yep, $500,000 is a lot of money for people like you and me. It’s more than our churches have ever been asked to give - five times more. How do we do it? Ultimately, we depend on God who delights in generosity and we start, but the insurmountable is doable!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.