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The Audacity of Hope 127

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Just a few years ago, Pastor Jackson got on a plane from Africa to come to the United States of America. He felt led to reach out and form a partnership with a small but growing church in Wilmington, NC. He sold his car in order to purchase the plane ticket. He put his trust completely in the Lord.

When he arrived unannounced at the airport in Baltimore, MD, he called the office of the church asking for someone to come and pick him up. They had to give him the bad news that the Baltimore airport was close to Wilmington, Delaware but not anywhere near Wilmington, North Carolina. But they managed to get him on a bus to North Carolina so they could listen in person to why Pastor Jackson thought he had been led to contact them in the first place.

Not knowing where to put their surprise visitor from Africa, the church staff got him a hotel room. After listening to him address the staff, one of the young pastors named Mark drove him back to Baltimore and put him on a plane back to Africa.

When Mark returned from his seven-hour ride with Pastor Jackson he was convinced that his ministry was one that was worth supporting. The young North Carolina church was struggling financially and trying desperately to save money for its first building. Nonetheless, they were asked to consider giving 10% of their budget to Pastor Jackson’s ministry.

One of the young pastors remarked that it would be insane to give 10% to this man’s ministry at a time when their own church was struggling financially and without a building of its own. Another replied with a pointed question: “Do you think God will punish us for giving too much money to African children?”

The staff prayed as a group. At the end of the prayer and without further discussion they all looked up and said “Let’s do it.”

If you look at a chart of the growth of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, you can see that the biggest jump in attendance followed that leap of faith resulting in giving 10% of the church’s budget to Pastor Jackson. Just eight years after holding its first service, Port City Community Church recently had to turn people away from its doors as it packed over 3700 people into five Sunday services. Plans for a new building have had to be modified to accommodate unexpected growth.

I believe that stories like this show that God has a plan for every person and for every church. And God rewards those who respond boldly and decisively to His plans.

When I mentioned in a recent column that I was signing over 100% of any future royalties from my latest book to Pastor Jackson’s Hope 127 Project I received an unexpected torrent of hate mail. Many of those emails asked how I could possibly donate proceeds to a foreign charity instead of one here in the United States. What I have already said in this column explains the specific calling but it does not address the larger issue of choosing foreign over domestic charity.

Those who are adamantly opposed to giving to foreign charity, especially if they are Christians, need to take some consolation in the fact that atheism is on the decline in the world today. And they can also take some consolation in the fact that Christianity is the world’s fastest growing religion.

But the good news about the Good News is not all coming from the United States of America. In fact, the real reason Christianity is winning is because of what is happening on continents like South America, Asia, and Africa. And that success has led many like me to view foreign Christian charity as a good investment.

I want those who hastily fired those critical emails to consider the location of Jesus’ birth and ministry. Is it a coincidence that God chose a place where Asia, Europe, and Africa intersect? We are all free to believe this to be a coincidence. But Christianity is not for those believing in a random universe.

When we ask ourselves “Where Would Jesus Donate, WWJD?” we should remember that God donated His Son to save an entire world. And the distinction between foreign and domestic charity has long been washed away with the blood of Jesus.

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