Hello, my name is Ewan Wonoprabowo, Director of the Auditing Department at Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, here in Glendale, California. 

As you may have heard, our conference has six Core Values, and one of them is Stewardship. It says, “We are spiritual contributors not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist just for us, we exist for the world. We will give and manage our resources with excellence for this mission.”

The way I understand it is that the resources, or the blessings that we have, are not only for us but to be used to bless others and thus exalt Jesus Christ, the Giver of our blessings.

In the Auditing department, we check the tithe envelopes to make sure that the allocations are right and reported according to the giver’s wishes. I have seen members of our churches in Southern California Conference territory who are faithful givers, even during the pandemic. 

Recently, when I audited one of our churches, I noticed that one member gave to so many different funds, the list was long. Not only for Tithe, Church Budget and other local offerings. But he gave for different ministries like Adventist World Radio, Adventist TV Ministries, ADRA Salvador, Hurricane Relief, Loma Linda University, Ghana West Africa SDA Church, Adventist Communication Network, SCC Covid-19 Relief, Conference Advance, and others. 

I believe the members are faithful because they have experienced the love of God. They have tried the Lord, and God has opened the floodgates of heaven and poured out His blessings. As the members keep on giving, they are blessed. Jesus Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” — that was in Acts 20:35. Luke 6:38 reads, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

God blesses us not just for our own benefit, but also so that we can be a blessing to others in need. The tendency to hoard and to build up more and more is a dangerous one, and the best antidote to greed is to be a generous giver. There is certainly no shortage of people in need today, and while we cannot meet every need, if we do what we can, God will multiply the resources so that it is enough.

To close, I would like to share with you a story:

When Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola was asked, “Sir what can you remember made you a happiest man in life?” Femi said, “I have gone through four stages of happiness in life and finally I understood the meaning of true happiness.”

The first stage was to accumulate wealth and means. But at this stage I did not get the happiness I wanted.

Then came the second stage of collecting valuables and items. But I realized that the effect of this thing is also temporary, and the luster of valuable things does not last long.

Then came the third stage of getting big projects, when I was holding 95% of diesel supply in Nigeria and Africa. I was also the largest vessel owner in Africa and Asia. But even here I did not get the happiness I imagined.

The fourth stage was the time a friend of mine asked me to buy wheelchair for some disabled children. Just about 200 kids. At the friend’s request, I immediately bought the wheelchairs. But the friend insisted that I go with him and hand over the wheelchairs to the children. I got ready and went with him.

There I gave these wheelchairs to these children with my own hands. I saw the strange glow of happiness on the faces of these children. I saw them all sitting on the wheelchairs, moving around and having fun. 

It was as if they had arrived at a picnic spot where they are sharing a jackpot winning. I felt real joy inside me. When I decided to leave, one of the kids grabbed my legs. I tried to free my legs gently, but the child stared at my face and held my legs tightly. I bent down and asked the child, “Do you need something else?” The answer this child gave me not only made me happy but also changed my attitude to life completely. This child said: “I want to remember your face so that when I meet you in heaven, I will be able to recognize you and thank you once again.”

What would you be remembered for? Will anyone desire to see your face again where it all matters? 

Think about it and God bless! May God give us all the courage to be generous givers. Amen.