Reverse Offering Ripple Effect

Check out all the feedback we got from our reverse offering this month at Church of the Cove in Tennessee:

Gratitude
We think our money may have gone the furthest- geographically, that is. We gave our money to Lydia, a volunteer at Wears Valley Ranch from Germany. A Bible student, she chose to donate her time to the kids and staff at Wears Valley. She paid her own way over here, and did not receive any pay for all she did at the Ranch. Lydia’s love for Christ and others was obvious as she served selflessly and joyfully. Together with the Housers’ envelope, we gave the money to her in a thank-you note before she boarded the plane to go back to Germany. We do not know how she will use it, but we trust that the Lord will bless her with it.– Jay & Sarah Stenfors

Trailer
God sent COTC to Folsom, Louisiana after Katrina hit in 2005. He sent some a few to Baton Rouge last year after Gustav hit Baton Rouge. He placed a dream in the hearts of His people for a nice-sized box trailer to serve as disaster relief and to assist in the moving we help people with.
On Thursday, August 20, 2009, God fulfilled those dreams by giving Church of the Cove a 28-foot (8 1/2 ft wide) trailer. It’s set up with a commercial Onan generator, wired up with lights inside. It also has a side entry, covered over by an awning the length of the trailer. It’s top-notch and like new.
Cost: Using it to serve God and give Him glory.

Running from God
When I took my envelope out of the basket, I began to pray that moment about who God would have me give it to. In the course of the week, he placed a family in our path who broke my heart.
They have been living in a place that is about to be condemned. They have no shower, no way to wash clothes and he only has 1 set of clothes. They also have a teenage daughter. I felt such a burden for them, but asked the Lord to confirm that they were the ones.
My husband had a chance to share with the father of the family, who wept as he told my husband that he had felt the Lord calling him into the ministry years ago and had run from God. Just this week God has led this father to stop gambling and stop smoking.
Today I gave him the envelope and my husband and I helped with their small business venture, and we plan to take their daughter back to school shopping. We are praying for them and we expect a miracle in their lives as God reveals Himself to them!!!– Anonymous

Blessings
Yesterday, at the Walmart in Alcoa, God drew our attention to Peggy, a young mother with 15-month old twin daughters. The expression on her face when we gave her the money is something we’ll never forget. In fact, it was such a great experience that we plan to set aside some money from our monthly income to keep the blessings going.
— Ed & Carolyn DeWhitt

Seeds
The Lord has been dealing with me to plant a seed into the church food pantry, other than the one I made when the “shopping list” came out & I purchased most of the items on it to help get everything set up.
I am reminded of II Corinthians 9:10,
And God who continually supplies seed for the sower (thats me) and bread for eating will supply you with seed and multiply it and cause your almsgiving to yield a plentiful harvest.
Sunday morning, just as the worship service began, I committed to an amount and then we listened to Kevin Cross and he spoke on how his church helps people out. I was so impressed AGAIN by how God confirms His promise to us that if we sow into the Kingdom above our tithe He will give us more seed to sow. He gave a seed before I had a chance to write my check.– Anonymous

A Larger Lesson
As Kevin requested, I wanted to share my experience with the reverse offering request he made during last Sunday’s service. First of all, I need to say that I am not a an “official” member of the Church of the Cove. I have been attending Sunday morning services at the Cove, as a visitor, for the last 4 Sundays. God willing, I’ll be there this Sunday too.
I had read about Kevin Cross’s visit and his plan for the reverse offering in the Maryville Daily Times on Saturday, so I knew it was coming before I got to the service on Sunday. Therefore, my intention was to not participate, since I am not a member, and to just put an offering in the plate as I had done the previous Sundays. However, that is not what God had planned for me. When the reverse offering came to my row, I decided to take an envelope and then thought to myself “I’ll just put a double offering in next Sunday”. Then Darren assured everyone after Kevin spoke that we could still give our offering if we felt led to after the service. Well after the service, it still did not seem right to put my offering in the plate, so I said my goodbyes and left. On the way home, I live in Alcoa by the way, I opened my envelope to see a $10.00 bill. For some reason, I felt God was telling me to put my personal offering into the envelope with the $10.00, so that is what I did.
Now immediately, I began to try and think of the best way to put this offering to work for God. All the way home, I was looking for that one person that God was going to show me; a stranded motorist, a homeless person, a poor family in line at the restaurant where I ate lunch, you know, somebody “deserving” enough to give the offering to. Well, I didn’t see anybody that “fit the description” all the way home so I thought, no big deal, its still Sunday and I have 6 more days to do this and report my results.
Well Sunday passed…then Monday came and went without seeing anybody that “fit my profile” and now Tuesday was here. I was in line at Food City to pay for my grocery items and the lady in front of me had lots of groceries, so I was patiently waiting my turn and watching. I noticed she had some paperwork on the checkout bar that had the letters WIC on it. I knew that to be the Government assistance program for low-income families that need extra help with basic food items. I thought “This could be it!” This is the one God wants me to help”, but then I remembered I had left the envelope with the offering in it, in my car. At that moment, I was distracted by the cashier at the next aisle over who said she could take me at her register, so I went over to her register paid for my stuff and left. I felt guilty, thinking here I had passed up on the one God wanted me to give to. Then I rationalized to myself, maybe she was not the right one and God will still provide “the one” at another time.
Now it was Wednesday, and I was headed to Chik-fil-A for dinner and happened to see a young lady sitting on the ground, near a major intersection in Maryville. She was holding a cardboard sign, but I could not read it from the distance I was at. She was on the opposite side of the street from me and I was headed in the opposite direction from her. I thought at that moment, “God, now this has to be the one You want me to give the offering to”. I had no idea what the sign said, but I assumed she was asking for food or money. Well, I was only a few yards from Chick-fil-A, so I reasoned within myself “I’ll just swing through the drive-thru real fast, get my food, and then head back to where she was and give her the offering”…..it will take 4-5 minutes tops…no harm..no foul. So I went through, got my food and drove back to where the young lady was…..and she was gone! What? Where could she be…I pulled over and looked around and could not see her. I know God was wanting me to give her the offering. Why couldn’t she have waited just five more minutes?
Needless to say, I was disappointed and again felt guilty for not helping someone that God had clearly put in front of me. For the past few days, I had been praying and asking God to show me where he wanted me to put this offering. I felt He had been answering me and pointing these folks out to me, but yet I could not seem to get it done.
Well Thursday rolled around, and I went out to lunch at one of the local Ruby Tuesday’s. I never go to sit down restaurants like these for lunch because of work time constraints, but this day was different, work was slow and I needed a good break. I had planned on going to a fast food chain, but changed my mind at the last minute. Anyway, I went in sat down and ordered my food. While eating my salad and waiting on my main dish, I began casually watching/listening to the interaction between a waitress and an elderly couple seated in the booth beside mine. Apparently the couple had each ordered the same meal, but the waitress misunderstood and thought they were going to share a meal. So when she brought out their food, there was only one dish and she brought an empty plate “just in case the other wanted to have a bite”, the waitress said. Well the couple calmly explained that they had both ordered the same dish and that one would not be enough for the both of them. The elderly lady also explained that part of her dish was incorrectly prepared. The waitress was really embarrassed and profusely apologized and vowed to get another dish prepared as quickly as possible. The waitress also offered to keep the one dish on a hot plate while the other was being prepared so it would not get cold.
By the time the elderly couples food was properly prepared and brought out, I had finished my meal and was ready to pay for it and leave. At that moment I felt like God was tugging on my heart to pay for the elderly couples meal as well. I wasn’t sure why, because they did not “fit my profile”, but I was not going to let another opportunity slip by me. So when my waitress came around I asked for the elderly couples bill to be put with mine, and she obliged without hesitation. After paying the bills, I got up to leave and the elderly couples waitress came up to me and said “Thank-you very much!”. I did not speak to the elderly couple and as far as I know they did not know that their meal had been paid for until sometime after I had left.
I detailed the above events in order to share with you how, I believe, God used the entire experience to teach and remind me valuable lessons of His offering of Grace towards His children. Unlike what I was doing, God does not go about looking for someone that is “deserving” of His offering of Grace. His offering of Grace is freely available to all…A..W..L….all (sorry I had to throw Darren’s favorite phrase in there).
I had been looking for someone that would “fit the profile” that I had in my head of somebody who “deserved” the offering. But God led me to the elderly couple who did not “fit my profile” that I had initially set out to find. They did not “deserve” it….they did not “earn” it, and they did not “win” it. Sadly, but thankfully, I was wrong in my thinking and God was willing to be patient with me and remind me how His offering of Grace works. Because, if God was only looking for people who “fit the profile” of “deserving” His offering of Grace, I would surely not fit and be doomed to Hell. Thankfully, His Grace is offered undeserved, unmerited, and unearned to all who will receive.
Thanks for letting me share my experience.
P.S. – As it turned out, the cost of the elderly couples meal was almost exactly the amount of money that was in my offering envelope, so I accept this as confirmation from God that this was what He wanted.–Stephen Halcomb

Workplace Ministry
I actually had a lady, who was about my age (20s), come in my workplace yesterday with her two children. She was asking for money to feed her children. I thought, “This is God telling me to use that money we were to minister with.” Her daughter was about five and she gave me a huge hug.
I felt God working yesterday for sure!

Turn around!
One man was driving toward his errands in Maryville and saw a man walking alongside the road carrying a backpack. As the man was returning from Maryville, he saw the same man, still walking.
Sensing the Lord’s instruction to stop, he turned around and picked the man up. He drove him to Maryville and dropped him off, giving him the envelope of cash, letting him know that God had provided for him that day.

Yield on Investment
Reverse offering investments?
One lady took her $10 and invested it in the materials to make baskets. Another lady invested her $10 in the materials to make a stained glass hanging.
At church Wednesday night, the items were shown, the investment explained, and the bidding began. No formal ceremony. No announcement given. People smiled, laughed and bid their hearts out, wallets open. They were excited and we worshipped. Not the money! We saw worship because people were bidding not on items that will become gifts or occupy their homes, they bid on life-change for others.
Simple. The money these ladies received in the envelopes from the reverse offering were invested into materials they used to produce a product that people wanted. That caused their money to grow to $175 that will be used to spread the Gospel.

Raffling
Three of us are thinking of pooling our funds and getting donations of things and service hours and holding a raffle; the money from the raffle will go to the needy. It will take 60 days or so, but I’ll update you as things move along and with the results.– anonymous

Radical Gospel
Praise the Lord! Today, at age 64 (!), I saw the radical gospel put into action!!! What a wonderul, awesome challeging blessing! I am praying that God will convict, enlighten and multiply all the efforts of the Body.
A few weeks ago, the Lord put a person on my heart in a very special way. He called me to share my blessing with this person. Not only that, He caused events to happen to provide $20 here, $10 there – totally unexpected! It was clear that this was not for me, so I obeyed and passed it on. How I pray that everyone would experience the childlike joy I feel knowing God has used me to bless one of His children – a sister in Christ. I hope she can know what a blessing she has become to me!
THANK YOU for making this opportunity possible. Like you say, just imagine what God will do with this!!– Dottie Hall

Three for Five
Thursday evening we ate dinner at Miss Lilly’s, a local restaurant. Our waiter was friendly and interested in our table conversation. We found out that he’s a college student majoring in English. I encouraged him–saying that English teachers always have a job. Then he said that he really wanted to be a writer, and my heart was touched.
Since that night I’d been thinking that I’d like to help him somehow. And then Sunday you made God’s intent plain to me. We stopped at Miss Lilly’s after church. He wasn’t working, but we were able to share what happened at church with the two managers. They seemed real interested. After getting his name, I wrote a check and added it to the $5 in the envelope and left if for him.
I was also able to give a small book to each manager. God used your work to minister to three people through that $5.– Phyllis Dolislager

We were at service this morning when you gave your message about “paying it forward”. I gave my envelope to my brother,Jeff, who just checked into STEPS house, a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Knoxville. I just spoke to him a few minutes ago and he told me that on the way back in the van, driven by Tom Garner of our church, some of the guys wanted to stop at KARM (Knox Area Rescue Mission) and give their envelopes to “more” needy folk at the mission. I’m sure this blessing will be passed on to others in the community.
— Roger Hall

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