DALLAS (BP)--The story is told of thousands of European children who were left without homes and families following extensive bombing raids during World War II. The orphans were gathered up and taken to camps where they were cared for by Allied Forces personnel. There they had plenty to eat during the day and were now safe from the trauma, death and destruction that had once surrounded them.
Still, the children could not sleep. The thought of once again being left homeless and without food gripped them with uncertainty and terror.
It was suggested that each of the children be given a slice of bread to hold once they were put to bed at night. Amazingly, that worked. Just knowing that they had something in hand was enough to overcome their fears and provide comfort for a good night's rest.
Decades later and an ocean away, a similar scenario is being played out today. Many retired Southern Baptist ministers and widows face uncertainties as to how they will pay their bills, if they'll get their medicines or what they will eat. It can be a traumatic time, taking a toll in various ways, including being unable to sleep well.
Staff members at GuideStone Financial Resources are reminded of this fact on almost a daily basis but a recent letter from Norma Jo Karnes drove the point home. She and her husband William were in ministry for 37 years as he served in the pastorate of smaller churches in Kentucky. After learning they had been approved for assistance from GuideStone Financial Resource's Mission:Dignity ministry, Norma sent in a word of thanks:
"There aren't words to express what your help has meant to us. We have gone from just getting by to being able to sleep at night knowing that we will be able to pay our bills. May God bless all of you. I was able to buy me a new pair of shoes that I really needed. First pair in four years. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. Please pray for us."
Psalm 3:24 has a promise for those who live righteous lives: "... when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."
That's a tremendous assurance that comes from a godly life. But it's also the result of the care and compassion shared by those whose Mission:Dignity gifts provide daily bread and so much more each month to God's faithful servants.
Through Mission:Dignity, GuideStone Financial Resources assists approximately 2,000 retired Southern Baptist ministers and their wives who have critical financial needs. Most of these served small congregations in decades past with little, if any, contributions toward a retirement plan. Sixty percent of Mission:Dignity recipients are widows. One out of every four recipients is a pastor's widow age 85 or older. Qualified recipients are eligible for grants of $200 to $530 each month.
Mission:Dignity is funded by the generous support of individuals, Sunday School classes, and churches across the Southern Baptist Convention. Gifts of any size are welcome, with 100 percent of contributions paid out in grants and nothing taken out for administrative expenses.
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 26 on the SBC calendar and churches can learn more about this important ministry. To order free bulletin inserts and a DVD for use in worship services, Sunday School departments or mission-oriented organizations, visit www.MissionDignitySBC.org/ORDER or call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).
Whether it is putting bread into the hands of a deserving couple or widow, helping them pay for utilities or enabling them to get the medicine they need, Mission:Dignity is a way for you and your church to share a slice of comfort, security and dignity with God's servants in need. Join us in remembering them on Mission:Dignity Sunday.
John Ambra, as director of development for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, leads the Mission:Dignity ministry.
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