Circa 2015 – 2019
One night, I happened to turn on the TV and a movie called “The Beast” was playing. I watched it to the end, holding my breath in suspense, as the beast of a runaway train, impossible to stop, gained speed and spiraled out of control, with many passengers’ lives at stake.
The Holy Spirit said to me, this is how hardworking and earnest Christians are falling one by one from the runaway train of stress and overload.
I understood, as I have been hearing of many good pastors and leaders who are dying of heart attacks, stroke, cancer and other diseases – even to depression and suicide. Many Christian marriages are also failing and many children from Christian homes, even pastors’ kids, have gone wayward and have left the faith. I was stunned when a pastor related how a judge told him that for the first time in the history of our country, the number of Christian divorces surpassed divorces from other religions.
How did we get to this sad state of affairs?
I did a self examination. I realised that while the years spent in serving the Church so fervently have brought me much joy, purpose, personal growth and kinship with fellow Christians, it has also taken a toll on my health, my marriage, my children and my finances. I thank God He intervened in time. That today, I can happily say, with relief: “As for me and my household, we are all okay.” ☺
Still, I feel the sadness in my spirit. The tithe, which was meant to bring joy and closeness to the family and to God, now misused, is one of the reasons, if not the main reason, for the pain, stress and challenges for Christian families instead, which I have shared in the previous two posts.
To the stressed-out pastor who asked me how he can keep his church functioning without the tithe; to continue to pay for the church’s mortgage and overheads - there is no easy answer, I agree. I am sorry that I am an idealist. I thought to myself, “If there are not enough funds to start it or to keep it going, then perhaps it is not the right time or the right place to start or continue with the church at all.” I did not say it out but he heard it. We both ended in silence; this is hard medicine.
The Holy Spirit said to me:
“The sad truth Sara is that they are shortchanging themselves. They have forgotten that God is far more able to provide for all that is needed, far more than all the tithe and offerings they can ever obtain through untruths, persuasion and coercion, which eventually leads to much more problems for themselves and their church.”
And for me, I was in a dilemma. If I follow what was written in scripture according to God’s heart, I could not join any Church as a member anymore as I would have to abide by their tithing rules. But I guess this is part of the journey of brokenness God has put me in – to become one of the “UnChurched” and to look for another way to worship God with others.
One night, V led me to sketch a shining City on a Hill. Not really knowing what it means, I abbreviated it as my “CITOAH” vision.
In the years that followed, God had led me to read and travel extensively to see so many good organisations, Christian and non-Christian, that are doing much good in the world. One book that really inspired me is “Creating a World Without Poverty” by Prof Md. Yunus, Founder of the Grameen bank, father of micro-credit financing for the poorest in Bangladesh.
I also noticed that mission organizations are often lacking in resources. Except for my ex-tithe-rich church who provided their missionaries with a fat paycheck and fancy cars, most missionaries and staff that I came to know out there are often underpaid or not even provided for. Budgets are tight and they often have to wear two or three hats, as they constantly struggle with lack, poor nutrition for themselves and their family and with burnout. None of them have any funds set aside for emergencies or for their children’s education, not to mention retirement planning. Or to meet the needs of the people they are sent to. While they learn to really live by faith, some leave disillusioned or depressed, while, I noticed, some become a bit weird and proud of their state of poverty and lack.
I pondered – if the Church simply focused on just shepherding their lambs and sheep, then maybe they will produce healthy, happy and successful Christians and Christian families, who are better equipped and poised to bring in the wealth of the nations God has saved up for His people. And if some of the money from their tithes go to support these ministries and organisations, perhaps the full time workers wouldn’t be trapped in the beastly train of extreme stress, ill health and financial struggle.
Then perhaps, together, we can make the world a better place and the body of Christ can become:
“The salt of this world, the CITOAH which God would proudly display, drawing the weary and the lost to their warm, comforting and happy light.”
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: