When I was in Kazakstan as a missionary, I had the privilege of discipling a small group of local believers. I meet with all 7 of them weekly in my home in the city. Two of them, middle-aged ladies, actually live in a village 2 hours away. In spite of the distance and having to wake up before the sun rises, they hardly miss a meeting.
One of the things I taught them from the beginning was about the tithe, not just about the need to give – that’s the easy part – but about how it should be used. This is where most churches have failed to comply with the Word of God.
According to the Bible, there are three types of tithes. The first tithe, the one we are most familiar with, is that one that goes to the priests and Levites. At the same time, God commands the second tithe to be set apart. This enables every Hebrew male to make their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year as God has commanded. And, every three years, a third tithe is collected for the sake of the poor in their midst. This was what I taught them.
Based on what I have taught they began to act. The two ladies, for example, began to accumulate their tithe. Mind you, they were both unemployed for there was no work in the village. In fact, many of the younger ones have left it to find work and prosperity in the city.
After three months, they had gathered a certain sum of money, albeit a small sum. After seeking the Lord about how they use it, they came to know about a three-generation household. Not only were they poor, none of them had official documents. Without the relevant documents, they could not apply for government welfare.
Convinced that the Lord wanted them to do something for this family, the two ladies set out to help at least one member of the family to get the necessary documents.
Now, you must know that such a procedure can take forever – with tons of forms to fill – and lots of bribe money. Determined, the pair went forward. By a miracle, they were successful after only two weeks. The amount of money they had gathered as tithe was sufficient. They did not need to bribe anyone in the process.
A couple of weeks later, both of them experienced the Lord’s blessing.
One of them was offered a job by the Municipality without her even applying for it. Her job: to assist a blind old lady in the village. Although she was not required to cook or clean or wash, she chose to do so out of gratitude for the Lord’s provision.
The other sister-in-Christ became a self-employed seamstress. Right off the bat, without any effort in advertising her new business, clients came calling. They all heard about her and her excellent workmanship by word of mouth. In no time, orders were piling up and she was struggling to fulfill them. Heeding my suggestion, she took in an apprentice and paid her a stipend.
After about a month, her apprentice, a Muslim lady, was good enough to share the load. After three months, her apprentice had heard about Jesus Christ and believed in him. Glory to God.
In the meantime, the two ladies were still gathering their tithes. With their tithe, which had increased since they had been blessed with new income, they were able to help more families – eleven, to be exact.
Winter was approaching and many of the poor households would be without coal to warm their homes. Winter can be quite harsh with temperatures dropping to as low as thirty below. Without any form of heating in the home, many, especially the weak and sick, could die. So, these two ladies decided to buy coal for some of these households.
The price of coal had been on the rise for the last two years. How many households can they help? Instead of being discouraged, they trusted the Lord to multiply their “five loaves and two fish”. And multiply He did.
They contacted a coal supplier and began to negotiate the price. They explained that the coal was not for them but for the poor households in the village. Touched by the compassion of the two ladies, the coal supplier sold them the coal at a significantly discounted price. With the tithe they had gathered, they were able to buy coal for eleven households to last the whole winter.
I can go on and tell you story after story of what these two ladies did, just using their tithe alone. But I trust that you get the point. This is how God had intended for us to use the tithe – His money. And when we comply with His instructions, we will be a great blessing to many.