One day, a widow of a member of a group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”
So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” (2 Kings 4:1-7, NLT).
In the story, our church was like the widow who was threatened by the creditor. I remembered this story on our way to the bank to open a new account in anticipation for the funds that would come out of the “Cheerful Givers” announcements. Later, I remembered the story again when we had to open two other new accounts. The new bank accounts have been for me like the empty jars of the women and her children borrowed from their friends and neighbors, in anticipation of the abundance of oil, through faith in Elisha’s words.
I am amazed of the woman and her children. Through faith they ran to knock the doors to borrow the jars, one after one, to be filled with the promised oil. They poured olive oil from their flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled. They watched the miracle happening as it is happening in St Mark’s. God has already sent over $1,000,000 for the church project in less than two months.
I have seen such faith in the wonderful children who accepted the message — that God will surely satisfy the needs of the church. Who could imagine such marathon of faith among the loving people of God the Almighty? They ran to offer from their own cheerfully, generously and even from the small “flask of oil” they have themselves. They all have been given the grace to give, from what they have given from God, and watched the increase by the blessings of God.
As the oil increased, it brought joy to the woman and her children, and so too is the joy of everyone in St. Mark Church as contributions increase week by week. This has brought to our remembrance what David said: “the Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad” (Psalms 126:3).
The key figure in the story of the woman is Elisha. In Hebrew, the name “Elisha, אֱלִישַׁע”, transliterated into “Eliyshaa”, mean “God Saves”, the same meaning of the name of our Lord Jesus. I strongly believe that the Spirit of God the Father who was working in Elisha, is now working mightily in St. Mark Church, through Jesus Christ. His work is not just to fill the jars with oil or fill the bank accounts with fund, but much more than that. He gives us of Jesus Christ’s fullness, and grace above grace (John 1:16).
This new building, with the story of the “Cheerful Givers”, will be as “a monument of God” (as was said by one of our youth). Through generations, it will serve as a witness for God’s glory and faithfulness in the midst of St. Mark Church.
Thank God for His amazing grace. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth” (Psalms 115:1).
Congratulations to each “Cheerful Giver”, who has been part of the story of faith by the grace of God and has become a beloved to God, “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Pray for me.
Fr Abraam Sleman