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Early in 2009 I received a phone call from someone wanting to give $10,000 to the church. For those who don’t remember, this was one of the worst moments in the American economy since the Great Depression. The banking system had collapsed, and stock market portfolios were cut in half over the previous 12 months. In fact, the day the man called me was the day the market hit its lowest point of the crisis. Even with all our current bad news, the market today is 200% above that day in 2009. 

Naturally, I thanked him, and conversation ensued. “How is it,” I asked, “that you can give such a generous gift in times like these? Haven’t you been affected by the economic crash?” 

His answer surprised me—it inspired me. He said, “Oh my, I have been hit worse than a lot of folks. Seven years ago, I had around $400,000 invested. It grew to almost $1,000,000. Now, it is worth a little more than $300,000. It has been tough to watch.” 

“So how is it you are being so generous today?” I asked. 

“Well,” he said, “I realized that I could have given away several hundred thousand dollars in gains over the years, and I wouldn’t be in a much different spot than I am right now. I wasted the opportunity to give when things were rising. I don’t know why. I could have made a big difference in some people’s lives along the way.” 

Then he said the words that struck like lightening. “I guess the Lord is teaching me to give while I can.” 

When he hung up the phone, I stared out the window for 5-10 minutes contemplating what just happened. “The Lord is teaching me to give while I can.” 

Friends, economies go up and economies go down. Somehow that old sinful self tells us we can’t give when it is rising—maybe it will go up more. It also tells us we can’t give when it is falling—I am poorer than I used to be. Those who are spiritually wise know that now is the time. We may not have a better chance. What is more, it isn’t just about us. God may not have a better time to bless someone else through our gift. 

Remind your churches and remind your people. Giving isn’t about what is happening out there. It is about what is happening in them. Encourage them. Thank them. Bless the Lord. 

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Glenn Howell
Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana