Saturday, June 3, 2000

(Editor's Note: The congregation to which today's author belongs, St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, has by the grace of God and with the help and encouragement of others managed to reduce an unexpected and unmanageable debt of 1.1 million dollars to something just over $200,000 in the space of six years. Mrs. MacDonald offers this devotional on behalf of the congregation in a real spirit of thanksgiving for the prayers and partnership of many across Canada. – JTH)

1 Thessalonians 1:3 – We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

In this day of high cholesterol, diets, and diabetics, can you imagine a successful Fancy Dessert Tea? Well, we had it, and it was well attended by our members and all the friends we have made in the community who have rallied to support our congregation over the past number of years.

Before the misfortunes that occurred when we ran into financial and construction problems after we had to make the heartbreaking decision to leave our old church building for a new one, we were a congregation who fulfilled our obligations, paid our commitments, were quiet, loyal and content. Then — we plunged into debt and had to seek help. The "whys" of the situation had to be put aside and reality faced, as the demands for financial help were so great and immediate.

Our goal was, and still is, to carry God's word through our ministry to our community. We sought help from every facet of our church; their help picked us up both morally and financially. Our pastoral needs are aptly looked after by our Interim Moderator and Interim Minister.

We threw ourselves into fund-raising. It was a timid beginning as we were still novices in this field. The total debt was a nightmare — it was as if we were at the bottom of a tunnel and the only direction was up. We had to concentrate on one project at a time. Our congregation is not young and a great number of our members have passed on over the years.

However, through continuous prayers to God, and efforts on our part, our faith has grown and our debt is being repaid at a faster rate than we had ever expected possible. All members of the congregation pitch in wherever they can; as a result, we enjoy a spirit of camaraderie, fellowship and co-operation. After all the dark days we endured, the positive and enthusiastic attitude that now prevails is most welcome. We praise God for all his blessings. To watch our members at a gathering, either at a Sunday School closing, seder meal, fund-raising project, or Bible study group, is to see their happy participation, and is a joyous experience. We realize that even though everything is moving along well now, we still have a long way to go.

Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for your guidance through our dark days. We are ever grateful for all the help and encouragement we have received. Help us to continue to grow in faith and work diligently to finish our commitment, when we look forward to assisting others in need. May Thy will be done. Amen.

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About the author:

Barbara MacDonald
Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada

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