Rose Davis hurriedly checked her account balance at the ATM. Something seemed terribly wrong.
She hadn’t thought she would be able to make her car payment, but the bank said she had the necessary funds. Davis was stunned. She phoned her mother, tearfully explaining that something was happening to her.
“Girl, hush,” her mother responded. “This is your blessing.”
Davis had recently embraced the Bible’s call to total life stewardship, including trusting the Lord with the tithe before paying any other bills.
“I can’t even describe the feeling that came over me,” she said. “. . . It’s as if God was saying, ‘I got you. Just do as I ask.’”
Davis’s testimony is just one of many examples of God’s faithfulness at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, Texas, an African American congregation. Pastor Terry Turner began this year to emphasize biblical stewardship in an effort to encourage all members to experience God’s blessings upon obedience.
“When people make a commitment to give their tithe, they really turn all that they have into the hands of God, and it’s then His responsibility to make sure that we make it,” said Turner, who currently serves as president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “And He can do better with it than we can.”
Most tithers “don’t even miss” the money they give to the Lord, he said. “They don’t . . . look at it as a bill. It’s something they just naturally do, and in naturally doing that, before they know it, all of their needs are met, as Scripture says—according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Rose’s husband Vernon finished graduate school and got a job making a lot of money, but the money was never enough. Constantly seeking more, he gave only two or three percent of his income to the church while pursuing promotions, raises, and investments.
“I was trusting in Vernon instead of trusting in the Lord,” he admitted.
When his investments fell through, he found himself drowning in attorney’s fees. So he decided to finally trust God with his finances. He stopped seeking promotions and investments, instead coming to Bible study and getting involved in ministries. As a result, he began to tithe.
As he gave God control, God began to bless him, granting him favor at work and new opportunities to serve Christ. Davis says he never fell back into his old way of life, even with the new successes.
“[God] changed my heart so much so that I’d rather do the things and work of the Lord versus the things of the world and seeking after things myself,” he said.
Turner says the Bible guarantees that if a believer commits to tithing, God will bless him, citing Malachi 3:10, which reads, “Bring the full tenth into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this way,” says the Lord of Hosts. “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.”
“The problem is that people won’t really try God,” Turner added. “It’s a promise. It’s a guarantee of His that when we tithe, He will bless us.”
But the main reason for the church’s tithing campaign is so it can give more.
“We do a lot now in the community, but there’s a lot, lot more that we should be able to do, and so I’m excited,” he said.
Turner envisions more community ministries, more resources available to church members such as a daycare facility, and increased giving through the Cooperative Program.
“I believe in the Cooperative Program,” he said. “I’ve seen that as a church we can do a very small amount of missionary work and building the Kingdom. But as a Convention that comes together with the Cooperative Program, there’s just no end to what we can do.”
Grace Jeffries, a Mesquite Friendship member who recently celebrated her ninety-third birthday, says she has caught the spirit of giving that comes with biblical stewardship. At times she put off tithes, did not give them regularly, or gave based on her income after taxes. But after committing to tithing, she said God has given her more to contribute to ministry.
“I have found Him to be God of more than enough,” she said. “He not only blesses me, but He blesses me to bless others.”
The stewardship campaign at Mesquite Friendship is already bearing fruit. The number of individuals who tithe has increased from a little more than 20 percent of the church’s membership to 35 or 36 percent of the congregation. Members like Rose Davis continue to bear witness to the provision of God when His children are faithful.
Rose “never to this day knows how” that extra money for her car payment happened, Turner said. “I think God works in miraculous ways when we commit ourselves to walk in faith, regardless of our circumstances.”
John Evans, a member of Sagemont Church, is a freelance journalist in Houston, Texas.