DALLAS (BP) -- It was October 2001 and Buddy Temple was in a quandary. The retired postal service worker and court bailiff had sold a house a few months earlier and couldn't figure out where God wanted him to direct part of the proceeds. No matter how many options he considered, he had no clear direction.
"I was trying to do something with the money that belonged to God," Temple said. "Every time I sat down to write a check, something stayed my hand. I've never had a problem giving to the Lord but this time I just couldn't do it."
Temple and his wife Nora joined a group of friends on a trip to Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico to attend a weeklong senior adult gathering sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources.
One day after their arrival, Temple walked up to Glorieta's prayer garden and spent some quiet time near the reflecting pool as the golden leaves of the aspens rustled in the autumn air.
"God, I need to get rid of this money. It's Yours," he prayed.
That night in the main conference session, the couple listened to a presentation about the Mission:Dignity ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources. It was the first time they heard about the needs of several thousand retired ministers and their widows who had served in small rural churches and now were struggling to pay for basic expenses. Immediately, Temple found the peace for which he longed.
As they returned to their cabin later that evening, Temple's wife knew his countenance had changed. "That's where your money's going, isn't it?" she said.
When they arrived home in Texas, Temple made out a check to Mission:Dignity. A year later, after reading more stories about the impact his gift was making, he began sending a monthly gift and has continued since.
"The first check I write is for my church," Temple said. "The second one is Mission:Dignity."
In 2008, the Temples moved their membership to Woods Chapel Baptist Church near their home in Arlington, Texas. Two years ago, Temple told his men's class about Mission:Dignity.
"I got one of the monthly thank you letters and there was a story about an old pastor who only got a $39 retirement check and needed a battery for his car. It really hit me that what goes around comes around. We have 16 men in our class and all of us could do something. I thought they needed to hear this. They were surprised about the $39 income."
Tom Boddie was the teacher.
"Buddy presented it and we voted on it," Boddie said. "We are glad to give and we really get a blessing out of it."
The class collects a monthly offering, averaging about $100. Initially each man gave $5 but individual contributions have increased, Temple said.
"These men are ready and willing to give. They even have their money out on the tables when it's our week for Mission:Dignity and I really don't even have to say anything," Temple said. "I don't count the money. Somebody counts it and announces the total to the class. Then I deposit it and mail in a check."
One of the women's classes heard what was going on and asked if they could also give. They bring their money to the men's class for the monthly collection. Total contributions have surpassed $3,000.
At last year's Mission:Dignity Sunday, the Temples had a chance to tell their whole church about the ministry, using the free video and bulletin inserts that are available. Their pastor Eric Armstrong wholeheartedly supported the church learning about Mission:Dignity.
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 23 this year in the Southern Baptist Convention, an opportunity for the ministry to be shared in churches, Sunday School classes or mission organizations. Free undated bulletin inserts and a short video are available for order from Mission:Dignity's website where groups also may download posters and ads.
The Temples count it a privilege to be in a position to support those who have ministered through the years. He has volunteered to speak at other churches, if needed.
"This is some kind of organization if 100 percent of our money goes to those in need," Nora Temple said.
"I feel so close to these people," Buddy Temple added. "It's like I am sending help to my own mother or to a family member. I can't take any credit for this, though. It's all been from God."
The Temples have encouraged many others to join them in helping people in need -- in a commitment that stems from a peaceful afternoon in the mountains of New Mexico when a man got quiet with God and simply asked, "What would you have me do?"
John Ambra is director of development for Mission:Dignity at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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