As the economy struggles amid the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have projected that churches and charities will see a decline in charitable giving.
In communities across Oklahoma, however, some churches are seeing signs of hope amid struggle.
At Ardmore, First, Senior Pastor Alton Fannin reported that the congregation gave more than their anticipated budget goal for April.
“Our church family gave 120 percent of the April budget,” he said. “I was amazed and so thankful to the Lord. As a pastor, you start to think giving will be down, since we are not meeting together in person.”
Fannin shared that the urgency of missions helps fuel the heart of giving.
“We give a high percentage of our budget (18 percent) to the Cooperative Program and a total of 27 percent (of the budget) to missions,” he said. “Our people realize that the continued need for missions support is critical.”
Fannin said that the church has online giving and receives gifts by mail. He noted that many drive up to the church to give their gift.
“I’m somewhat old-fashioned, in that I like to give in person,” he said. “I’m very thankful that our members continue to give and that many have gone to great lengths to get their gift to the church.”
In a website post, Pastor Fannin reminded church members about God’s faithfulness.
“The COVID19 virus, also known as the Coronavirus, is on people’s hearts and minds, and rightly so. During this time, we first want to center our response by relying on God and His Word. God is in control. We trust Him, and our faith is in Him in ALL things of life. Psalm 56:3 says, ‘When I am afraid I put my trust in You.’ Let’s remember this verse and put our trust in Him.”
In a time when many people are homebound, giving is a tangible way people can help advance the Gospel.
“When people give, they know it not only helps the church. It’s making an impact all around the world, as well,” Fannin added.
// McAlester, First gives to North American missions
At McAlester, First, Pastor Rusty McMullen noted a wave of generosity, as well. On Twitter, he said, “Sunday (April 26), we asked (McAlester, First) to drive through and give to meet our Annie Armstrong Easter Offering goal of $10,000… We were at $5,000. Not only did they meet it, but we blew past it!”
Adding some advice to fellow pastors, he said, “Pastor, share the vision and ask people to come along… they will!”
Even as the effects from the pandemic continue to affect the economy and churches, God is sending signs of hope along the way. The April showers of blessing seen in Ardmore and McAlester and elsewhere will lead to flowering ministries, even amid challenging times.