A conviction that all the money needed to reachthe world is locked up in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ prompted a study on the subject. The only strategy which has the potential of involving the entire body of Christ in financing the task of world missions is that of “Faith Promise”, something WMC popularized in South Africa. Millions of rands have been released in local churches so to finance mission projects.
The late Oswald J. Smith of the People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, used this strategy with amazing results. The following is an extract from his book, “The Challenge of Missions” (1959: 59-63), in which he gives his own testimony of how God taught him to give to missions. He puts the principle of Faith Promise in a nutshell:
I had been pastor of a large Presbyterian church in the city of Toronto presently. one day I resigned and became pastor of a church that knew how to give in a way I had never known.
I commenced my pastorate on the first Sunday of January. The church was holding its Annual Missionary Convention. Now I knew nothing about a convention. I had never seen one in all my life, so I just sat on the platform and watched.
The ushers were going up and down the aisles giving out envelopes. Presently to my amazement, one of the ushers had the audacity to walk right up the aisle and hand me – the pastor – one of the envelopes. I sat there holding it in my hand. Never will I forget that moment. I can still remember it as though it were yesterday.
As I held it, I read: “In dependence upon God I will endeavor to give toward the missionary work of the church $….. each month for a year.
I had never read such a statement before. I did not know that that morning God was going to deal with me and teach me a lesson that I was never to forget and that I in turn was to teach scores of other churches all over the country in the years to come.
At first, I started to pray. I said, “Lord, I can’t do anything. You know I have nothing. I haven’t a cent in the bank. I haven’t anything in my pocket. This church only pays me $25 a week. I have a wife and child to keep. We are trying to buy our home and everything is sky-high in price.” All that was true. The First World War was on.
“I know that,” the Lord said. “ I know you are only getting $25 a week. I know you have nothing in your pocket, and nothing in the bank.”
“Well then, ‘I continued, “that settles it. I have nothing to give.”
It was then the Lord spoke. I will never forget it. “I am not asking for what you have,” He said.
“You are not asking me for what I have, Lord? Then what are you asking?” I replied.
“I am asking you for a Faith Offering. How much can you trust Me for?”
“Oh Lord,” I exclaimed, “that ‘s different. How much can I trust Thee for?”
Now of course, I knew nothing at all about a Faith Promise Offering. I had never given such an offering in my life. But I knew the Lord was speaking. I thought he might say $5 or perhaps even $10. Once in my life, I had given $5 to missions. Once I had given $2. But never more. I almost trembled as I waited for the answer.
Presently, it came. Now I am not going to ask you to believe that God spoke to me in an audible voice, but He might just as well have done so. I was scarcely conscious of the congregation, as I sat there with my eyes closed, listening to the voice of God. God was dealing with me that morning, though I did not realize it at the time.
How much can I give? I asked.
“Fifty dollars!” I exclaimed. “Why Lord, that’s two weeks salary. How can I ever get $50?
But again, the Lord spoke and it was still the same amount. It was just as clear to me as though He had spoken in an audible voice.
I can still remember how my hand trembled as I took my pencil signed my name and address and wrote in the amount of $50.
Now, how I ever paid it, I don’t know to this day. All I know is that every month, I had to pray for $4 and every month God sent it in some miraculous way. At the end of the year, I had paid the entire amount $50.
But this is what I want to make clear. I received such a blessing, there came to my heart such a fullness of Spirit, it was such a thrill, that as I paid the final amount, I realized that it had been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
So great was the spiritual blessing that had come to me because I had given a Faith Promise Offering, had trusted God for a certain amount, and I had given in a scriptural way, that the next year at the Convention, I doubled the amount and gave $100. Then, at another Convention, I doubled the amount and gave $200. Then the church raised my salary and I received more that I had given. You see, you can’t beat God’s giving. At still another Convention still, I doubled it once again and made it $800.
From that day to this. I have been increasing the amount and sending on thousands upon thousands of dollars to the Bank of Heaven year by year. If I had waited until I had it, I never would have given it, because I never would have had it. Bit I gave it when I didn’t have it, I gave a Faith Promise Offering and God honored it.
A Faith Promise:
This is not a pledge. A pledge offering is between you and a church, between you and a missionary society, and some day the deacons may come along and try to collect it, or your may receive a letter asking for it. In other words, you can be held responsible for a pledge offering.
A Faith Promise Offering, on the other hand, is between you and God. No one will ever ask you for it. No official will ever call on you to collect it. No-one will ever send you a letter reminding you of it. It is a promise made by you to God and to God alone. If you are unable to pay it, all you have to do is to tell God. Give Him your excuse, and if He accepts it, you do not have to pay it.