The William Carey Wild Card

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Founder & Teacher,

Enclosed with this Star [Bethlehem's church newsletter] is the first issue of “Our Giving Account” published by Bethlehem’s Financial and Property Administrators. It is tremendously encouraging, because it documents God’s amazing faithfulness to us over the years. It is also a serious alert that our shortfall this year needs a turn around. Study the Pie Charts.

  • From 1982-1992 the budget has grown from $330,689 to $1, 412, 244, a four fold increase.
  • The missions portion of that budget has grown from an actual disbursement in 1982 of $71, 473 to a budgeted commitment in 1993 of $484, 609, a six fold increase.
  • The missions percentage of the budget has risen from 22% to 34%, while the percentage for pastors’ and staff compensation has decreased from 52% to 42%.

If numbers mean anything, they mean that our advancing priorities are not ourselves.

These numbers also mean that the building of a larger staff has produced more blessing for missions while lowering the proportion spent on staff. This vindicates the philosophy that staff are called and paid not to do the ministry but to inspire and equip for the ministry.

But this year we are falling behind our budget about $4,500 per Sunday ($22,000 instead of $26,500) and fast depleting the reserves that have previously carried us through the summer slump. The need could be met if each attender gave an extra $4.16 each week, or if every regular adult giving unit gave an extra $6.89 per week.

Crucial Question: Are you giving all you should to Bethlehem? If you believe in a missions-driven church, Bethlehem is a good investment. It is accountable. For most of you it is home.

William Carey left for India in 1793. Two years later he received his second pack of letters from England. One of them criticized him for “engaging in affairs of trade.” In other words, he was working to earn a living for his family as well as doing mission work.

The accusation hurt. The fact was that communication was so slow and sporadic Carey and his family would have starved if he had not worked to earn a living. He wrote back these words which describe the William Carey Wild Card.

It is a constant maxim with me that, if my conduct will not vindicate itself, it is not worth vindicating…I only say that, after my family’s obtaining a bare allowance, my whole income, and some months, much more, goes for the purposes of the gospel, in supporting persons to assist in the translation of the Bible, write copies, teach school, and the like…The love of money has not prompted me to pursue the plan that I have engaged in. I am indeed poor, and shall always be so until the Bible is published in Bengali and Hindosthani, and the people want no further instruction. (Mary Drewery, William Carey: A Biography, p. 91)

The Wiliam Carey Wild Card is a radical call to remember that we are fighting a war for the eternal lives of men and women. God never condemned high incomes per se. But he said a lot about how much we should keep. The William Carey Wild Card is a challenge to think in a radically heaven-focused way about your treasure. “After an allowance for me and my family, my whole income goes for the purposes of the gospel.”

Praying with you about the limit of that allowance,

Pastor John