Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mark 12 concluded

In Mark chapter 12 we have come to the story of the widow’s mite. The story is so familiar. How can I make it come alive? The story is straightforward. Rich men were pouring gold coins into the offering trumpet but then a widow came along and emptied her purse of two small copper coins. Jesus’ comment: “They gave of their excess but she gave of her poverty.”

We all know the story from Sunday School. Because it is set in such a bygone age, when economic circumstances were different we find it hard to relate to. We need some modern day allusions.

First we should notice that Jesus was watching people giving. Have you ever thought that Jesus was watching what you give? I don’t know how the offering is taken up in your church; in a bag so that it is in secret? In a plate so your neighbors can see? In South Korea it is the custom for the names of donors and the amount they have given to be read out during the service. Are you happy for your giving to be made public? Would you be ready with the excuses? We have a rather large mortgage. We have children at private school or an Ivy League College. The payments on the SUV are due. If you saw my tax bill…

We should remember that in Israel the money given to the Temple treasury was in part for welfare, just as our taxes are today. People, who would not dream of failing to tithe, nevertheless use every dodge to avoid paying income tax. There is nothing illegal about it. The law allows it, but the end result is that very rich people fail to pay their fair share of the costs of community.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money in the Temple treasury.

Many rich people threw in large amounts. There is nothing wrong with that. So they should, but by giving of their abundance they were nothing special. Have you noticed the special attention given to rich people in churches? They might be good for a new roof or a sports hall or a sound system. We need to keep them sweet; their monthly offering pays the salary of our youth worker. I know he has odd views on the second coming (baptism, the gifts of the Spirit, the Trinity, substitutionary atonement – take your pick), but he’s worth 20,000 a year to us. Jeremy Bentham is not someone I usually quote with approval but his dictum that ‘Everyone is worth one; no-one is worth more than one and no-one is worth less than one,’ is one that I endorse. Before God all men (and women) are equal.

But a poor widow put in two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. See that she is a widow. Jesus had just complained that the teachers of the Law ‘devour widow’s houses’. Here is a proper reverence for widows – symbolic of those that have not. Often the Bible lumps widows and orphans and the alien in your midst.

Especially today when we watch the conviction of the London attempted bombers of 7/21 who were all illegal immigrants, we are especially wary of the alien in our midst. I saw a man two weeks ago who was obviously a health tourist. From Nigeria, he pretended that he had only just discovered that he had AIDS. Plainly he knew the diagnosis and had come hunting for unaffordable anti-retroviral drugs. Although we must give emergency care, we have had instruction from the government to charge patients from abroad who try to use the NHS for free. If we charged him, how would he pay? It’s all very well to say that Nigeria is an oil-rich country, but he has none of it. Could we handle the whole world’s poor? No, but we can manage the ones and twos that pass our door.

What was the value of the lepton, the coin that the widow threw in the offering trumpet? Together they were worth a quarter of an assarius, which itself was one sixteenth of a denarius, which was what was paid to a common labourer for one day’s work. One sixty-fourth of a day’s pay. If he worked a 12 hour day, then two lepta were what he could earn in eleven and a quarter minutes. But it was all she had. It was the charitable handout from the Temple treasury. Enough to buy a little to eat, enough to keep body and soul together; by putting in her two lepta, she would go hungry that day.

She put in everything. The commitment that Christ demands is not our money but our all. I heard of a man who, when the offering plate came round, put it on the floor and stood on it. That is the point. We commit our whole lives to Christ. Ready to go wherever he calls, ready to spend whatever he asks for.

Some of you know that we have been supporting Lourdes Manabat in the Philippines. Earlier in the week I received this letter from her asking for support worldwide. I hope that some of my readers will feel moved to join us in this worthwhile endeavour.


“ To produce Christian Workers, Missionary, Leaders, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelist”

“ To train, teach and inculcate the Word of God in the minds of little children as early as 3 years old. ”


Nine years ago, God put the vision in my heart. As I see young people, there is difficulty in inviting them to go church to hear the Word of God. Sometimes, it will lead them to mock you and even the good news that we are trying to tell them. Why? Because there are teachings and beliefs that’s already in their minds, that is so quite so difficult to erase. It needs years of inviting, prayers and fasting just to win them for Christ.
Then, the Vision come, we need dedicated, committed Christian Workers. In reaching the world for the Lord. How can we do that, if the ratio is 100 is to 10. Let us accept that there are more unbelievers than believers. And a Christian will only feel the burden when she/he in his teen age, and sometimes, they are being carried by the world or influence by their friends, instead of winning the unbelievers.
The Bible says… “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, He will not depart from it…” Prov.22:6 This is an assurance that if a child is being rooted by the Word of God, he will believe it and will not depart from it. This is the Mission God put in my heart. To teach little children, as early as 3years old. Little by little, learning the Word, through stories and Bible truths which is integrated by academic subjects. If they will be enrolled in the school from Nursery 3years old, Kinder 4 years old and Preparatory 5 years old, hearing the Word of God and Bible truths, in His own time, in Gods time, it will bear fruits.

This is how GOD’S LAMP OF WISDOM conceived in my heart and in our prayers. A school that provides quality education and Christian values. We don’t have place of our own, we are just renting a small classroom where we accommodate children. But miracles happen, when I applied for a Government Permit, the first one to secure… God allowed it to happen. Second to secure is the Government Recognition, through God’s power, the favor was given to us. We are recognized by the Government.

Little by little, God arranged and favored the school. We keep on praying that God will give us lot and school building as the training ground of the children that will become Church workers and leaders.

My heart desires is to give free education to these children, but I as of now, I cannot do that. The children pay a minimal amount of 13.00U$ per month to cover the school rental, bills and teacher’s Love gift. But if God will send people/person who wants to be a part of this ministry, we can give free education. And the result of this is we can minister the whole family. Before we will accept their child as recipient of free education, they will agree to attend an hour of Bible Study every week. We believe and it’s my faith, one year of Bible Study and prayer, they will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Both, the child and the family will benefit, intellectually and spiritually.

Its been nine years that we are waiting and praying for this vision/mission be materialized. Our place is so little, and cannot attract people / parents. But there are few who still enroll in the school and we know, they are the fruits of our prayers. As of this year, we only have 22 children. We are praying and looking that one or two or all these children will become Pastor, missionary or Christian Workers someday. Because every day, we pray and lay hands on them.

As a Missionary and teacher, Im praying for people who will be with me in carrying this Vision/Mission. I have the heart and prayers, but as of now…I’m lack of provision.

Wisdom flow on me ,to share this burden to you, and let the Holy Spirit move and touch you. Unless the Holy Spirit moved, nothing will happen. But if He touches your heart, you can be a part in producing Christian Workers and Leader of this earth. Your seed will surely bear fruits for the Glory of God.

If God touches you, you can contact me or email. Lets us be partners in expanding the Kingdom of God, by producing Christian Workers.

My name is Lourdes V. Manabat
46 years old
A graduate of Philippine Missionary Institute year 1985 and 2006
With the Degree of Bachelor in Theology, Major in Christian Education
Married to Ptr. Venancio C. Manabat
We have 3 children. Aaron Paul 20, Lorah Love 16 and Myrtle Love 13.

Email lourdez_manabat@yahoo.com

Thank you for giving time in reading this letter. And its my prayer that God will touch you and be part of the Vision/Mission.

God bless you…..

In His Service,

Lourdes V. Manabat


Anonymous said...

Terry, you have echoed some of the thoughts that I have been pondering in my heart over the last couple of years. I see God's heart in your longing for social justice.
Thank you.
Minnesota, USA

Anonymous said...

One or two health tourists will become a flood. It is all good and well to help, but it is not the responsibility of Britain to pay for the world's ill.

What about the responsibility of the Nigerian government and the wealthy in that country to take care of their own.

AIDS is a special case. It is very easily prevented. AIDS cannot be spread via the air or by water.

Sub-Saharan Africa is a basket case. The populations in those countries need to take responsibility and change to liberal democracy. The West can assist in that effort, but cannot and will not do it for them.

Teach the man to fish, and all of that.

Private charities are certainly welcome to provide help, in the subject country. They do not have the legal or ethical allowance to break the law by smuggling people into other countries.