Dear Church Family,
We have a business meeting scheduled for this month with two recommendations by the deacons. Since these recommendations originated with something God was doing in my heart, I was asked by our deacons to share with the church about why we are recommending to the church to gift $5,000 to both an overseas missionary and a local church.
AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING
Late last year, our church received the largest donation we have received since I have served as your pastor. While the gift was anonymous, we worked to track down the giver in order to confirm it was sent to the correct Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Luray. (In the past, our church has received donations that were intended for the other two Mt. Carmel churches in Luray.)
When I spoke to the donor, he simply said, “I would just ask that the money be used for the kingdom of God.” Immediately upon hearing this, the Lord impressed upon my heart to give a portion of this generous gift away. I did not know exactly what to do, so I began praying and asking God what He desired. Over the next few weeks, the Lord reminded me there is kingdom work taking place from Luray to the ends of the earth of which we can be involved. I believed God was asking me to give to see His kingdom expand both here in Luray and across the world.
SHARING THE BLESSING AROUND THE WORLD
In the November deacons’ meeting, I approached our leadership with the proposition that we take $5,000 of the gift we received and send it across the world to a missionary. I did not have a specific missionary in mind, but almost at once, the name of a missionary was mentioned by one of the men. The others readily agreed. So, Pastor Mike took that suggestion to the missions team—who also unanimously agreed that we send $5,000 to the Dawson family who are serving in the jungles of Venezuela. The cost of getting food to their remote location has nearly tripled over the course of the past year.
SHARING THE BLESSING ACROSS PAGE COUNTY
Once that was decided, I shared with the deacons my desire to take another $5,000 of this gift and send it to a church here in Luray—as a sign of friendship, but also as a sign of partnership. I want to remind our church that Mt. Carmel is not the only church—nor the most important church—doing kingdom work in Luray. Every Gospel-preaching church is equally important to God.
However, instead of asking the deacons for a suggestion, I shared with them that the Lord had laid a specific church on my heart. I started by sharing with them that all the way back in March (when the pandemic initially hit), the Lord laid on my heart to reach out to one church in each town of Page County and seek to begin a deeper relationship—something like a “sister” church. It would not be a formal or binding partnership of any kind, but simply an agreement to intentionally seek to minister and declare a deeper commitment to help in a time of need.
AN INTENTIONAL PARTNERSHIP
I believed that while we would eventually partner with a church in Luray, Stanley, and Shenandoah, we could start with a church in Luray. And the church God laid on my heart with whom to form this partnership was For Us Ministries led by Pastor Archie Webster. (If you have been at Mt. Carmel these past few years, you know that God has worked in great ways to form a true friendship between Pastor Archie and myself. I do not believe this is simply coincidental. I believe God is doing something intentional through this friendship.)
When the racial riots were raging through our nation last summer, I wanted Pastor Archie and his church, which consists of primarily African-Americans, to know that Mt. Carmel believes that every person is an image-bearer of our great God—regardless of their race, color, language, or heritage. I wanted to make a clear declaration to our church and to Pastor Archie’s church that we desire to love like Jesus loved, so I invited Pastor Archie to preach and for his congregation to join us in worship one Sunday this summer. It was a blessed time.
So, after receiving this donation, I continued to seek God about which local church He would want us to share our unforeseen blessing, and the Lord very clearly laid Pastor Archie’s church on my heart. While sharing this with the deacons, I also presented my idea about an informal partnership with He Is For Us Ministries. We would be intentional to share times of worship together, times of prayer together, times of fellowship together, and times of ministry service together. And, just like family, if there is a need, we step in to help one another. That is the type of partnership I foresee.
And to kick off this new partnership, I suggested we share $5,000 of the gift we received with this church.
MOTIVATED BY OBEDIENCE, NOT A NEED
I was wisely asked by the deacons is there was a specific need I knew about. I told them that I did not know of a specific need, but that I believed God knows of a specific need—but that God did and He may be using our church as an answer to their prayers. I explained that I was not suggesting the gift because I was trying to meet a need, but that I was trying to be obedient to what Christ was saying to my heart. The deacons kindly and unanimously agreed to follow the Lord’s leading and directing of my heart—leading to their recommendation to the church.
I probably don’t need to say this, but I want to make it clear that this gift is not motivated by politics, optics, or anything other than a sincere desire to obey Jesus. If you have further questions, I would love to answer them by phone, text, or e-mail. Do not hesitate to ask me anything. Thank you for being a Church with hearts of faith moved by the promises of God contained in the Gospel during such an unsettling time in our nation and world. I love you and am grateful to be one of your under-shepherds on behalf of the Good and Great Shepherd.