Faithful StewardshipBack to Today's Devotional
2 Corinthians 8:1-6
1 Corinthians 4:1-2
The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
—2 Corinthians 8:1-6
So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
—1 Corinthians 4:1-2
For the first few years, our church met on the campus of Wheaton College. But the time came when the College needed the space and asked us to find property off-campus and relocate. This caused us to construct our first church building, which we did on the corner of Cross and Union Streets in Wheaton. It was a huge undertaking for the fledgling church.
This was not a normal time. The mid-1930s was the heart of the Great Depression. In May 1935, a letter went out from our church’s first Pastor, Kenneth Amsler, encouraging the people to “give sacrificially toward the new building, but not to forget the current expenses and missionary commitments.”
So, in the midst of the Great Depression, with no physical assets and only 291 members, the people gave with overwhelming sacrifice to purchase and construct our first church building. The cost of the land was $4,050, and the construction cost was $30,000. That sounds a bit more like purchasing an automobile today than constructing a church. But to put it in perspective, the average annual income in 1936 was $1,160.
During the course of the next 70 years, our church would take on four more major construction projects. Each one required overwhelming commitment and sacrificial giving on the part of our people. The last of those four is the present wonderful site and building the Lord has provided for us. This time, the cost of the land, the construction of the building, and its furnishings came close to $60 million dollars. This was accomplished through the sale of our properties in downtown Wheaton and once again, the incredible commitment and sacrifice of our people.
The giving was very broad-based and included little banks filled with pennies by children in our Sunday School, highly sacrificial commitments of various amounts from many families and singles, and a handful of larger gifts which also represented significant sacrifice and commitment. The balance is being paid off through a long-term financial commitment which we have been significantly reducing each year.
As I think about the wonderful facilities we have for our worship, teaching, fellowship, and outreach, I am reminded that the Lord has provided these for us through our people who are much like the ones Paul described when he wrote, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” (2 Corinthians 8:3). We thank God for all who have made this possible.
Questions for reflection and discussion: Have I thought about those who have gone before us and who have made not only our ministry possible, but the facilities in which much of it happens? Have I thought about what it means that God has made me a steward of all He has given me? Do I pray, not only about what I receive, but how I should use it?
Gary Dausey is Associate Pastor Emeritus of Wheaton Bible Church. He and his wife Barbara joined the church in the mid-sixties and he served as an Elder and Chairman of the Board of Elders. Gary became the Associate Pastor in 1987 and remained in that role until his retirement in 2009. He continues to be actively involved in several ministries of the church.