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Mission Trip Report: Nicaragua

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I was privileged to lead a group of Shandon members to Nicaragua last week, August 6-13.  Through a variety of ministry activities—construction, VBS, adult ministry, and door-to-door Gospel sharing and food distribution—we saw God work in an area of the world that has very little materially. 

 

We partnered with a local village church whose building was made of cinder blocks and no air conditioning, but their love for the Lord and enthusiasm for serving him was very evident.  Worshiping with them in both English and Spanish was a great experience and a true glimpse of heaven, where we know that every tribe, tongue, and nation will worship together (see Revelation 7:9).

The beauty of a cross-cultural mission trip is that God not only uses you in an environment that is outside your comfort zone, but he also confirms that ultimately, we have similar needs, hopes, and dreams.  God works and unifies his children, despite significant language and cultural barriers. 

One wonderful surprise was an invitation to teach in the public elementary school near the church.  We presented the Gospel to 80 children, many of whom may have never heard the Good News before.  We also delivered much-needed school supplies, which were greatly appreciated by the teachers and students.

I really want to encourage you to go on a Shandon mission trip.  You will have a great time, make new friends, and God will expand your vision as you minister in Jesus’ name.  As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15 and Isaiah 52:7).

Thank you for financially supporting mission trips, both through giving to our general budget and giving directly to missions through the Go.Serve. Fund.  Your contributions are making an eternal difference in the lives of both trip participants and the people we serve.

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What to do with your tax refund

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I see them every day. 

Articles and advertisements from self-proclaimed "experts," telling me what I should do with my money. 

Play the  lottery! 
Buy this stock! 
Invest in gold! 
Splurge on a new sofa!

Flip houses and get your own TV show on HGTV!  

So many voices screaming for our attention (and our cash)—especially during tax refund season!  "They" know you may have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, and it seems like everyone has a proposal for what to do with it. 

Amid all the mixed messages, it's important to remember  that there are only 3 things you can do with your money:

1. Spend it.

That’s easy, right?  Most of us do not need any encouragement to spend money.  But God calls us to spend effectively

Proverbs 31 speaks of a woman who works diligently and makes good business decisions. After all, we are spending HIS money, so it can be helpful to ask, “Lord, what is the best way to honor you in my spending?” 

Study the Scriptures for spending principles that honor the Lord. Understanding that we are stewards and not owners can help us make better spending decisions. 

REFLECT: Am I  an effective spender?

2. Save It.

Many verses  in the Bible encouraged us to save wisely

Proverbs 21:20 says, “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.”  As with many things in life, this is a balancing act.  At one extreme, we can neglect saving, and when we have an unforeseen expense, we are not prepared to manage it.  On the other extreme, we can be misers, hoarding God’s resources in an unbalanced way. 

A balanced approach is to save in a way that prepares us for emergencies, large upcoming expenses, and retirement, but not to the point where our faith is in our bank account. 

REFLECT: Am I a wise saver?

3. Give it away.

The reality is this: just because God has placed something in your hands does not mean he wants you to keep it.  (Ouch, right?!)

A very big part of living the Christian life and becoming more like Jesus is learning to give away what God has entrusted to us – whether it is our time, talent, or treasure.  As Jesus himself is quoted in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

As we learn to spend effectively and save wisely, we will find it much easier (and an absolute joy) to give.  A growing Christian is not simply expanding his or her knowledge of God, but is also acting more and more like God, the ultimate giver. 

REFLECT: Am I a generous giver?

SO WHAT DO I DO WITH THAT TAX REFUND?

Before you do anything, pray.

Seek God's leadership and guidance about the ideas you have for that money. Practice self control and patience while you honestly wait for an answer. And then, obey. I think you'll be surprised by the amount of joy and satisfaction you experience in knowing that you have spent effectively, saved wisely or given generously.

Personal money management is simple, but it’s not easy.  Thankfully, we have a God who is patient with us!


Buster Whitlock

Minister of Finance & Administration

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