The Joy In Giving

St Silas Church in Glasgow recently supported iServe Africa as they built a new centre for their ministry training work in Kenya. Senior Pastor Martin Ayers tells us why and how:

Why did you get involved with iServe Africa’s building project?

As a church we give 15% of our congregational giving to mission partners and I’m accustomed to being in churches where a proportion of regular giving is pledged in this way to support global mission. Here we experienced the joy of adopting a comparable sacrificial approach to our church building project for a new hall. 

When we embarked on the project, the decision was taken to tithe the money given towards it. We wanted to ring fence 10% of funds to support building or infrastructure projects overseas. This money has been used for a variety of projects and has, in some cases, been a catalyst for ongoing mission partnership with projects in other parts of the world. It has been particularly worthwhile because grants that were relatively small compared with the cost of building a new church hall in Glasgow have made an enormous difference to the viability of projects in other parts of the world.

How did you support iServe Africa?

We have had historic partnerships with Crosslinks so we contacted them for help in finding suitable projects. Providentially, our request came in at just the right time for us to be able to support iServe Africa. They run training courses to equip and train apprentices, pastors and church leaders in Kenya to handle and teach the Bible faithfully. We were sent details and photographs of their hopes and plans for a new building that could become a hub for their ministry. We were glad to be able to send a lump sum grant towards the building costs.

How has this impacted people at St Silas?

There is great joy in this gospel partnership (Philippians 1:4 – 5). We were especially thrilled to reflect on what an answer to prayer this grant would have been to the team at iServe Africa – particularly because we didn’t have a pre-existing relationship with them. It was also an opportunity for us as a church leadership team to think about the importance of supporting the work of training and equipping church pastors to correctly handle the word of truth – especially in countries where the Christian population is significantly larger than in Scotland but where there is a desperate need for theological and ministry formation. There was a real bonus for us in stimulating our own thoughts about how we raise up and train workers for the harvest fields of Scotland. We reflected that Cornhill Scotland in Glasgow is not dissimilar to iServe Africa in seeking to meet a similar need on our doorstep. This helped us to think about our own vision to reach, grow and send. 

There have also been some wonderful little relational connections – such as a Christian couple who were moving to Glasgow and visited iServe when they were travelling in Kenya. They were told about our church by someone there (who I have never met!) and then joined our church when they arrived in Glasgow. Also a Kenyan PhD student who came to St Silas while she was studying in Glasgow was able to explore connections with iServe when she returned to her home country.

Churches often seek to support an individual rather than an organisation so I think that this initiative of tithing our building project funds was very worthwhile in giving a more unusual opportunity to help word ministry to flourish in another part of the world. 

What was the impact on iServe Africa?

Our grant was fairly modest compared with the overall cost of their building project but, humanly speaking, it was a surprise for them. I hope that they found this a real encouragement and an answer to their prayers. It’s great to think of the joy that this modest grant brought to those labouring for the gospel in Kenya. The grant was just a fraction of the cost of our new church hall but, together with other grants and fundraising, has enabled a lot to be achieved for our brothers and sisters at iServe.

‘The new training centre gives us a home for our offices as well as somewhere we can host our regular residential training for apprentices and other gospel workers. It will also serve as an income-generator for long-term organisational stability. The offices and conference rooms are now complete and we are grateful for the generous giving of God’s people which has enabled this. This year we will begin the construction of the accommodation rooms. Do pray as we undertake the work – for wisdom, God’s leading and provision.’ Mariam Kioko Mwaniki, iServe Africa

Considering tithing your next building project?

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