Kehinde Ojo

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Kehinde Ojo

One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” 2 Kings 4:8-10

“It is not unusual for a prophet of Elisha’s status to have people come to him primarily for what they can get. What he may not be familiar with are people who show acts of kindness and generosity without expecting anything in return. This is exactly what he gets and even more on a trip to Shunem. When the wealthy woman invites him in, he may think her family has a problem that money cannot solve. They must need deliver- ance, or healing of a disease that has defied medical care. They certainly need a spiritual intervention.

Rather than asking for support of any kind from the man of God, this family takes the initiative to make their resources available by offering him a meal after a tiring journey. This invitation of guests—or, better put, strangers—to meals appears to be a norm for this family as she persuaded Elisha to eat! Wow! She is giving away her meal, and is not ready to take no for an answer. What a generous spirit!

It appears that the meal was lavish and the atmosphere so cordial that Elisha soon becomes a regular guest at meals in this home. The woman, in consultation with her husband, then decides to take their generosity even further by building a guest chalet for Elisha. They are willing to re- lease their resources freely to build and furnish a chalet for an itinerant minister. Notice how thorough they are in providing essential furnish- ings in order to guarantee a comfortable stay for their guest.”

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Mike O’Neill: All

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

“What does your “all” look like?

In these short verses, we have one of the foundational models for joyful management of our finances, and it comes from a widow. Widows (and widowers) live with loss all the time. Beyond the immediate sense of loss, pain, and heartache is the ongoing struggle to overcome the absence of their husband (or wife)—a source of physical, emotional, spiritual, and practical (including financial) support. For a widow in the first century in particular, life could be treacherous.

By Luke 20, Jesus is approaching the last days of His life and is spending His time teaching many groups of people at the temple in Jerusalem: Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law, and His disciples. Teaching is His priority.

But as He looks up, something even more important captures his attention. He sees an unnamed widow, probably invisible to others, stepping forward and giving absolutely all she has in trust to God. She places two coins into the treasury.

Let’s pause for a minute to consider the impact of that one single act and the implication that has for how we approach our financial stewardship. The temple storehouse and treasury was designed for two groups of people: the Levite priests (who could own no property so depended on the temple for their financial needs) and the poor, the widows and orphans. It was a mechanism by which they could receive financial support, an early social welfare system. Each recipient from the temple store was dependent on the joyous generosity of God’s people. Those who had much, gave. Those who lacked, received.

And then suddenly this widow turns the system on its head. By rights, she could have taken from the treasury, according to her need. But instead she gives!

Nobody notices but Jesus. He stops in his tracks, moved by the way the poor widow gives: he tells us she gives all she has. He emphasizes this word “all” by repeating it three times in his two-sentence directive to the disciples. She gives everything. Nothing is held back.

Remember, the widow in the temple is not a parable or a nice story about how even the poor can give. This is a real event.”

Mike O’Neill in “Financial Stewardship: Giving Our All” excerpt from Day of Seven Day Generosity Challenge by John Wiebe and the MB Foundation. Click to download the PDF and go through it.

What I appreciated about O’Neill’s comments on this text is that he reminds us how subversive and sacrifical the widow’s gift of “all” she had was. In giving “all” she had rather than taking, she turned the system on its head and caught the attention of Jesus.

To turn the system on it’s head is to give differently than those around us. Most people give their extra. Jesus celebrates when we give our all. As, Jesus sees your giving and mine, does He stop in His tracks or perhaps shrug His shoulders when looking at you and me?

While walking in the ancient St. Sophia Cathedral (pictured above), I feel like I could picture the woman coming and making her offering. How might you give your “all” in such a way that no one notices but it catches God’s attention?

Ponder that and consider O’Neill’s opening question: “What does your “all” look like?” As God leads you, act on what He has put on your heart just now. Give subversively and sacrificially. In so doing, you just might spark a celebration in heaven as Jesus is watching.

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Richard Samuel: Obedience, Trust, and Blessing

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. Genesis 12:1-4

“Name one place where you need to give up control and trust God to provide, even when others take advantage of your generosity. Now turn it over to God and be at peace in Him. Name one person you are relying on to be your provider instead of God. Repent today of that misplaced trust and, like Abraham, ask God to give you the strength and courage to trust in Him alone. Name one thing that God may be asking you to give away today in order to be obedient to His call to generosity. Make a decision today to be obedient, to give that thing away, and to watch God meet all of your needs.”

Richard Samuel in “Abraham: An Example of the Generous Life” excerpt from Day 2 of Seven Day Generosity Challenge by John Wiebe and the MB Foundation. Click to download the PDF and go through it.

Samuel makes important connections related to generosity. We can only be a blessing to others if we steward what God supplies with obedience. This requires trust in Him, rather than ourselves to supply, and it marks the pathway for blessing others.

Please read today’s post again. But this time, ask the Spirit to guide you as to which imperative may relate to you. Is it time to name one place, person, or thing? Will you repent and make a decision? Generosity for Abraham started with obedience, was tested with trust, and resulted in blessing.

God said, “Go” and he went. What is God telling you to do? Will you trust and extend blessing?

I have connected in Frankfurt en route home from Kyiv, Ukraine to Denver, Colorado. It was an amazing trip. Almost unthinkable to serve a total of 560 receptive people in multiple groups in 2 countries during Covid. The Lord opened a door and said, “Go” so I went. All glory to God.

Reply if you want a copy of the Ukraine and Moldova GTP and Mission Eurasia trip report. And I hope you like the header photo of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine. I got to walk through it and was gripped with awe at the rich history of our faith etched on the walls.

And, of course, I thought of my beloved daughter, Sophie. I hope she can visit someday.

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Zenet Maramara: Response and Responsibilities

Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. Titus 3:14

“Our response to God’s generosity is to begin to surrender today our love for our earthly goods and to put our trust in God, who gives generously all that we ask and need. God as owner is also provider. Our responsibilities are faithful obedience to His will and to carry out God’s wishes. That includes pursuing His kingdom and His righteousness, and all the other things will be added unto us. It takes a journey of faith to fully rely on God to carry out His promises, and the time to begin is now. As we daily experience His grace and provision, our faith grows.”

Zenet Maramara in “Biblical Stewardship: The Foundation of All Generosity” excerpt from Day 1 of Seven Day Generosity Challenge by John Wiebe and the MB Foundation. Click to download the PDF and go through it.

It’s been an unforgettable first trip to Ukraine and Moldova. The receptivity of 560 people in 12 groups has moved me deeply. They have been eager to learn to do good as a response to God’s generosity and to grasp and fulfill their responsibilities and live productive lives.

Reply to this email if you want a copy of the trip report. I have appreciated your prayers over this rigorous 10 day journey. Thanks to those who have made gifts to GTP to help. There are still needs if you are able to give. I have meetings and cultural activities today and return to Denver via Frankfurt tomorrow.

God bless you on your own journey. Reflect today for five minutes on all God has done for you and all He has supplied. What would it look like to put it to work to carry out God’s wishes or meet urgent needs where you live? Ask the Spirit to guide your response and empower you to fulfill your responsibilities.

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Sergey Rakhuba: Unexpected

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5

“An unexpected development happened when MB Foundation partnered with Mission Eurasia, which trains and equips Christian leaders throughout Eurasia. Sergey Rakhuba, Mission Eurasia’s president, agreed to help translate the devotional into Russian and recognized the value of its teachings in their ministry. Mission Eurasia soon began using it in 65 training locations throughout the 14 countries they serve.”

This comment from Mission Eurasia relates to the distribution of  the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge by Jon Wiebe, my friend and fellow stewardship author and administrator at MB Foundation.

Just like the response of the Christians in Macedonia was unexpected, the response to the challenge to grow in the grace of giving was unexpected from God’s people in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

I too have experienced this on this trip. You would never know a pandemic is raging. God fills the room each time with enthusiastic peopleand we’ve had not issues with Covid. See pictures on Facebook. If you want a copy of the trip report when I finish it in the next day or so before returning home, reply and I will send it to you.

Also unexpected was the beauty of the country. The header photo was taken from the Old Orhei Cave Monastery of the fruit trees, corn fields, and vineyards below. Stunning peaceful setting. I love Moldova and Ukraine. Beautiful scenery and even more beautiful people.

Today I deliver my last talk on “Nurturing Generosity and Sustainability: Four New Testament Insights for Global Application” at Odessa Theological Seminary. Pray with me for the unexpected. Receptive hearts to grow as stewards and to help ministries follow standards to flourish with sustainability. Thank you.

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Unnamed Blind Moldovan Woman: Garbage

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Mark 10:46-49

“For a poor person, everything is terrible–illness, humiliation, shame. We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of.”

Blind Woman from Tiraspol, Moldova, in 1997, in Voices of the Poor: Can Anyone Hear Us? by Deepa Narayan (Oxford: OUP, 2000) 65.

Special thanks to my Filipino friend and brother, Anjji Gabriel, who reminded me about this quote. It resonates powerfully with me in real-time after preaching the message God put on my heart (listen to it here with Russian translation), and as today is the last day of my first visit to Moldova.

For the poor of the world who feel like garbage, each of us who is not poor gets to remind them, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Jesus sees their plight and His people care about them. We must, through our loving actions, show that God’s grace and kindness are for everyone. This is generosity.

Today I speak at Divitia Gratiae Christian University and Moldova Bible Seminary in Chișinău. Pray for me to uplift and inspire them to nurture Christian generosity to change their situation. Please also pray for negative Covid tests to enable us to cross the border back into Ukraine later today. Thank you.

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Micheal Cherenkov: Simple, clear, and inspiring

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10

“Michael Cherenkov, Mission Eurasia’ executive field director, noted that when MB Foundation released The Seven-Day Generosity Challenge as a resource for friends and partners, their president and CEO Jon Wiebe didn’t realize how popular the resource would become in Eurasia. And now people read it in Russian, Ukrainian, and even Georgian.

“This book has already been reprinted three times in Eurasia with a total of 10,000 copies,” Cherenkov said. ‘Simple, clear and inspiring’. Mission Eurasia eventually became a partner in distributing this resource.

“We had been thinking about the importance of this topic in the churches of Eurasia for a long time,” Cherenkov said. “When I read this book in 2018, I knew right then that we had to translate it and publish for our partner churches in Ukraine. The book was a simple, clear, and inspiring invitation to be generous and I wanted to pass on that message as far as possible.”

This testimony was collected by Mission Eurasia after Roman went through the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge by Jon Wiebe, my friend and fellow stewardship author and administrator at MB Foundation.

Got to teach yesterday on “the Way of Christian Giving” with about 50 youths, ages 18-25, at the School Without Walls in Chișinău, Moldova. The discussion and interaction gives me great hope for the future of this country.

I am so thankful for my friend and brother, Michael Cherenkov, who cares deeply about getting, simple, clear, and inspiring teaching on generosity to people all across Eurasia.

Since I agreed to travel to Ukraine and Moldova, he filled the schedule with multiple activities each day to maximize the reach and impact of the trip.

Preaching today at the Church Without Walls in the same room pictured above. Appreciate your prayers. God help me speak on generosity in a manner that is simple, clear, and inspiring!

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Roman Rakhuba: Unlock the Potential

When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. Acts 17:1-4https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%2017%3A1-4&version=NIV

“Roman Rakhuba, leader of MB churches in Ukraine, teaches at Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls (SWW) program, which is specifically designed to train and equip young leaders for ministry. He began sharing this resource with others and the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge became part of SWW curriculum throughout Eurasia.

Thousands of young leaders can read the book, download electronic versions, and even see these lessons in video format. As Mission Eurasia built on the idea of the “generosity challenge,” they started an online video program called, “Time to Be Generous.”

Seventy years of the Soviet regime taught many people to hold tightly to food, money, and other possessions. This mentality also affected the church. Today, the topic of generosity – and the legacy and experience of MB churches – helps unlock the potential of other sister churches for a more active and effective ministry in Eurasia.”

Roman Rakhuba serves the Mennonite Brethren churches of Ukraine and teaches at Mission Eurasia’s School without Walls (SWW).

This testimony was collected by Mission Eurasia after Roman went through the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge by Jon Wiebe, my friend and fellow stewardship author and administrator at MB Foundation.

After ministering with Lydia in Philippi, Paul, Silas, and Timothy moved on to Thessalonica, where many men and women were persuaded and joined them. In similar fashion, with negative PCR tests, we hope to have an uneventful border crossing to Moldova today, and are praying for receptive hearts.

Before embarking on this journey, we overnighted at Odessa Theological Seminary, thanks to their gracious hospitality. Pictured above is the collonade near the Black Sea. This takes me back to the ancient world and makes me think how they would have responded to a visitor challenging them to think differently.

I can only imagine the shift in mentality for a person to come to faith in Jesus in the ancient world. Think about it. It might be similar to the new way of thinking the “School Without Walls” offers people who formerly lived under the Soviet regime.

Actually, it may be worse in my home country, USA. The pull of the culture is so strong. Is it “time to be generous?” I am praying daily for more people to become monthly supporters of GTP to unlock potential globally. Consider this prayerfully and set up your monthly giving here.

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Mariana Vakula: Inspire, Challenge, and Change

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

“The Seven-Day Generosity Challenge is an unusual book. It’s not the type of book that you read and quickly forget. This book inspires, challenges and changes you. God’s Word accompanied by the writers’ life stories is not dry theory. Because of the challenges at the end of each chapter, the biblical principles of generosity get implemented in our everyday lives. I am grateful to God and everyone who participated in making this valuable book possible. I am planning to use it in our ladies’ groups.”

Mariana Vakula serves in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

This testimony was collected by Mission Eurasia after Mariana went through the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge by Jon Wiebe, my friend and fellow stewardship author and administrator at MB Foundation.

I’ve been moved by the impact of this short devotional translated for Russian readers. It is inspiring, challenging, and bringing about change. Translation is what brought me together with Dr. Mykhailo (Michael) Cherenkov less than one year ago.

At that time, at GTP Yuri Boldirev, GTP Regional Facilitator for Eurasia, and I were praying for God to open doors in Eurasia. Then Mission Eurasia requested the rights translate The Sower, The Choice, and The Council in Russian. GTP freely provided these rights for publication in both Ukraine and Russia.

The translation should be completed by the end of 2021. Please pray for health and strength for the translators as they devote themselves to creating resources for people to study, much like the early church discussed and shared the teaching of the first apostles.

At GTP, we have resources, which we share freely, that aim to inspire, challenge, and bring about change. Mission Eurasia has a network to get them to people who will use them and share them with others. GTP may also provide training when the translations are done.

Today I meet with the Mission Eurasia staff in the morning. Then Dr. Mykhailo (Michael) Cherenkov, Mr. Don Parsons, Mr. Denys Gorenkov and I drive to the Black Sea and Odessa Theological Seminary. Graciously, they will lodge us for one night.

If the schedule seems full, know this: on my first visit to a country I let my host plan the days. I ask only that we gather to pray Psalm 2:8 on the first day we enter the country, and that we fast and pray about next steps on the last day. They plan the schedule. Tomorrow we enter Moldova.

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Pavel Tokarchuk: Partners and Resources

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. Acts 16:9-10

“The initiative to talk about generosity, sacrifice, and a biblical view on stewardship is very timely and is now discussed at seminars, presentations, and printed resources. We are grateful to our partners for making this resource available for our evangelical churches, pastors, and leaders. We hope that as we promote this course and its ideas it will help Christians to look at generosity in a new way and help for spreading the gospel and for the churches to grow different ministries. Our hope is that as we distribute these books it will be helpful to many churches in taking care of financial needs of the church and missions and grow in other ways of giving. Some leaders use this material in their small groups, in seminars at Christian conferences and meetings with Christian businessmen.”

Pavel Tokarchuk is a pastor in Moscow, Russia, who also serves with Mission Eurasia.

This testimony was collected by Mission Eurasia after Pavel went through the Seven-Day Generosity Challenge by Jon Wiebe, my friend and fellow stewardship author and administrator at MB Foundation.

In today’s Scripture, Paul and Silas had just enlisted Timothy to partner with them. They followed the Spirit’s leading to a new region, Macedonia. Lydia received them with generous hospitality, and they ministered to her and built her up in the Christian faith.

The Macedonians wanted help. The three served them fearlessly. When we partner and share resources, we must avoid giving handouts that create dependencies, but rather give a hand up to build disciples. That’s the fearless aim of GTP and our partner, Mission Eurasia!

So far, I have experienced receptive hearts and rich Ukrainian hospitality from saints like Lydia. If I were likened to the Apostle Paul, Dr. Mykhailo (Michael) Cherenkov would be Silas, and his colleague, Mr. Denys Gorenkov, serving with us like Timothy (and helping drive us around, too).

But this morning we changed our schedule. It reminds me of the pivot Paul, Silas, and Timothy had to make from Asia to Macedonia. Based on talks that started at the National Day of Prayer breakfast yesterday and continued last night, I have been invited to speak to a Baptist Union group.

Baptist Union serves 800 churches across Ukraine. I pray for ears to hear and wisdom to discern the needs of this context. Then later tonight, I will speak on “Nurturing Generosity and Sustainability” again (same topic as yesterday) but at another school, Kyiv Theological Seminary.

Sometimes pivots happen due to schedule changes. Other times it is linked to opposition, which is real in Eurasia. Pray for neighboring country, Belarus, and read this article in which Dr. Cherenkov was quoted only 2 days ago. Our brothers and sisters in Belarus are suffering and waiting on God for help. Lord have mercy.

As I said yesterday, reply if you want to receive a copy of my teaching handout in Russian and English. And as others have asked how they can help, click here to make a charitable gift to GTP to assist with this effort to train and resource national workers in Ukraine and Moldova or become a monthly giver. I am praying for people to stand with us at GTP as monthly givers.

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