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The needs are enormous. Even the needs we support as a local church can seem overwhelming: talking Bibles in India; supporting Amshika, Innocent and Bedline in India, Uganda and Haiti; helping to buy sewing machines for the tailoring programme run by Reeba in India; maintaining our monthly support of the Salvation Army food bank. Then there are many more needs both locally and globally. Sometimes, we can feel as though there is no end and can wonder what more we can do. At times like this, when we are not meeting together, we can wonder what to do (if you want to give electronically, please contact Julie and we can sort that!)

The needs in the early church were often just as daunting. Agabus, a prophet from Jerusalem, came to Antioch and told of impending famine (Acts 11:28). The church in Antioch resolved to do what they could to help: ‘The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.’ (Acts 11:29) They made practical arrangements to send what they could with Barnabas and Paul to the elders in Jerusalem.

The Bible is full of practical wisdom about money and how this can be used to help those in need. God commanded His people to be open-handed towards those in need (Deut 15:11) and not to exploit the poor or crush the needy (Prov 22:22). The early church demonstrated their understanding of this in their practical support. Paul deals with the subject of giving in his letters, especially 2 Cor 8 & 9, when he talks about the practical implications of giving to help those in need.

It’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed by need, but we can choose to give from what we have, as Paul said: ‘Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’ (2 Cor 8:13-15) The church in Antioch counted themselves blessed to be able to help. May we give with an equally positive and cheerful disposition!