At Brewster Baptist Church's Annual Meeting on February 9, 2010, they voted on their own version of Acts 2. ACTS (Assistance, Compassion, Trust, Sharing) Too. They are making available up to $55,000 from Brewster Baptist Church's reserve funds to be used for loans up to $5,000 per person/household, in increments of $500 at 1% interest to help meet immediate needs for people who are actively involved at Brewster Baptist Church. The purpose is to help our people with mortgage or rent payments, medical bills, utilities, transportation etc. in these challenging times.
ACTS (Assistance, Compassion, Trust, Sharing)Too
By Douglas Scalise
All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:44
The reasons for the strong sense of unity in the church in Jerusalem can be found in the events leading up to this scripture. The church was motivated positively by their experience with the risen Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and negatively by the threats of the authorities. Acts 2 begins with the church praying together, the Holy Spirit fills each believer on Pentecost, and after their first experience of being penalized by the authorities, the church gathers and prays again, and the Holy Spirit fills them with courage and boldness. They do not see themselves as separate individuals; they see themselves as a body, as All for one and one for all. No one claimed private ownership of any possession, they are in this together. For the church, the power of unity is greater than the power of possessions. Through prayer, being filled with the Spirit, unity greater than personal possessions, and powerful witnessing, it is no surprise that great grace was upon them all. The church was an example of Psalm 133 which concludes saying, where there is unity, the Lord commands a blessing. The Jerusalem church was able to meet human needs and to keep expanding the reach of its ministry because people gave possessions and resources in order for the church to accomplish its mission. Like the early church in Acts, BBC seeks to create a unified, prayerful, Spirit-filled, witnessing church that sacrifices for the common in order to be an encouragement to others.
Joseph, the Levite from Cyprus, is presented as a model of encouragement because of his generosity. Luke 6:38 tells us Give, & it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. Reading about Barnabas in the Book of Acts, we learn how true this principle is - the more Barnabas gives of himself, his wealth, his encouragement, his experience, the more he gets back and the more God blesses him by expanding his ministry and his influence. He goes on missionary journeys. He becomes the mentor for the apostle Paul and John Mark. Barnabas is a wonderful example of how God uses and blesses believers who give of themselves, their resources and possessions, and their spiritual gifts to serve Jesus, God's people, and the church.
At Brewster Baptist Church's Annual Meeting on February 9, 2010, we voted on our own version of Acts 2. ACTS (Assistance, Compassion, Trust, Sharing) Too. To make available up to $55,000 from Brewster Baptist Church's reserve funds to be used for loans up to $5,000 per person/household, in increments of $500 at 1% interest to help meet immediate needs for people who are actively involved at Brewster Baptist Church. The purpose is to help our people with mortgage or rent payments, medical bills, utilities, transportation etc. in these challenging times. To maintain confidentiality and accountability, a small team composed of Pastor Doug Scalise, Pastor Mary Scheer, Financial Manager Bill Morrow and Ken Fowler representing the Leadership Board will oversee the process and disbursement. The recipient would sign an agreement agreeing to pay the loan back within five years. While we desired to do the loans interest free, it appears that it makes it easier for people tax-wise to charge a nominal interest fee.
We have people who are struggling, especially now in the winter. I believe this initiative provides practical help, emotional encouragement, and a great message to our people. Maybe there will only be a few people who will take advantage, regardless it will be a blessing for those who need it. We have already received $6,000 in contributions from caring people who wish to help with this initiative.
Douglas Scalise is pastor of Brewster Baptist Church, Brewster, MA.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.