Danny E. Olinger
Although consisting of only thirty thousand members, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church operates home missions, foreign missions, and Christian education programs far larger than those of comparably sized Protestant denominations. This is due in no small measure to our shared belief that obedience to the Great Commission stands central to the spiritual well-being of the church. Witnessing to the Lord Jesus Christ through the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, both at home and abroad, goes hand in hand with seeking to glorify and enjoy the living God as the church's highest priority.
In fulfillment of the Great Commission, the Word of God goes forth from ordained ministers of the Word. But it is not just Orthodox Presbyterian pastors and teachers who participate in the work of the church. Everyone in the church has a role to play. Prayer is essential, and serving in love gives evidence of the Spirit's work in the heart where others are lifted up. It is also the privilege of every member to assist in the work of the church through the regular giving of offerings at the local church. A portion of these offerings is designated by local sessions for Worldwide Outreachfor the work of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a whole. And, once a year, there is also the opportunity to support our denominational ministries through the Thank Offering. Around twenty-five percent of the total amount needed to fund home and foreign missions and Christian education in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church comes from the benevolent giving of members and friends through this annual offering that expresses thankfulness for God's goodness to his church.
The theme of this year's Thank Offering comes from Colossians 2:7, "Abounding in Thanksgiving." As believers, we know that the spiritual blessings bestowed on us through the person and work of Jesus Christ are gifts. Apart from Christ's righteousness imputed to us and received by faith alone, we would be lost in trespasses and sins. Knowing that our salvation is achieved solely through the work of the living God makes our hearts overflow with thanksgiving.
We further confess that it is only in Christ that we have the strength to live the Christian life, rooted and built up in him. Bound to Christ by faith, we go about our daily tasks with his glory in mind, seeking to do his will, for he is our Lord and we are his people.
One way we acknowledge our Lord's goodness to us is by returning our material gifts to him with grateful hearts. We do not bring offerings with our hands to the temple in Jerusalem, but we do give to his church, that body which concerns itself most directly with the extension of his kingdom on earth. Giving freely and sacrificially is a testimony that we are not our own, but belong to our faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There are numerous opportunities for additional ministry before the Orthodox Presbyterian Church that would benefit from a generous Thank Offering. The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension is providing over $634,000 in direct support for forty-one organizing pastors and seven regional home missionaries this year. Your Thank Offering gift will enable Home Missions to support another twelve to fifteen church planters and the requests of three presbyteries that are in the process of considering calls to men to serve as regional home missionaries in 2012.
With a gracious Thank Offering, the Committee on Foreign Missions is looking forward to placing two new missionary families in the country of Uganda and one new missionary family in Haiti. Around $250,000 is needed for the Committee to add these missionary families. The Committee also hopes to help the Hopp family in Haiti with a new housing arrangement, either through the expansion of their current home or the procuring of a different home.
Earlier this year, the Committee on Christian Education was forced to decrease the matching funds given to local churches participating in the internship program by $100 to $200 per month. The Committee hopes that this year's Thank Offering will permit it to fund this vital training program at previous levels. A generous Thank Offering would also help the Committee in its funding of the proposed Psalter-hymnal, which the Committee is funding entirely from its reserves and not from the General Assembly operating budget.
Please pray for an abundant 2011 Thank Offering, one that would give evidence that, after seventy-five years of existence, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is still abounding in thanksgiving for the good news that is found in Jesus Christ.
The author is general secretary for the Committee on Christian Education and editor of New Horizons. New Horizons, November, 2011.