So is what I see with the many questions and concerns raised with respect to the Special Offering at the Greater Works 2017; one of the questions is so easy to answer.
This has to do with the inclusion of the dollar in the Special Offering. To start with, International Central Gospel Church(ICGC) is a church with several branches across the world. Meaning, it has followership not just from Ghana but other countries.
The program, Greater Works 2017, though is organized in Ghana, is an international program. How well do we understand 'Inter-national'? It is not the venue of a program that determines its 'international'. Otherwise, international programs are programs organized in US, UK, France, China other than a country in Africa as many people think.
An international program is any program that pulls members/participants/organizers from different nationals and not defined by location.In the case of Greater Works 2017, the members/participants, speakers/organizers are people of different nationals. Again, the program, with the help of social media, is transmitted live just so people can watch it from every corner of the world. Now convinced that it is an international program???
Next major point is, in the international system, the dollar is the dominating currency. Reason why countries' Gross Domestic Products(GDP) are quoted in dollars. Therefore we should expect that whenever there is interaction between inter-nationals where a common currency is needed, the dollar stands a better chance for selection.
Greater Works 2017 did not do any wrong by attaching the dollar amount to the Special Offering considering the fact that it is an international program. It is my considered opinion that the action shows its sensitivity to members and participants of different nationals. It is also to allow for other nationals who either have come for the program and want to sow or those watching from wherever and want to sow to do so.
We can only fault the organizers if they chose to do everything in dollars without the currency of the host country.
'Start local, but think global'- Rev Albert Ocran.
I guess we can now move from here to answer the substantive question(s).
THE SUBSTANTIVE ISSUE(S)
In 2006, I remember sowing [willingly] my last money on me which was to be used for transportation in a seed sowing session which climaxed a fasting/prayer event organized in my Junior High School, Airport Police J.H.S. Needless to say, this meant that I wouldn't have money and only had the options of pleading someone to give me money for transportation or ask for a 'lift', or wait for 'Kuffuor Bus' or walk home from Opebea to Adenta, something I had tried once and almost collapsed.
Truth is, I felt strongly that I should test God on his promise. On my way home, when it was clear I was going to walk, I had this belief that I was going to get money someway somehow.
Lo and Behold, I got twenty thousand old Cedis [now two Ghana Cedis] in between Opebea and Airport. I cried and said to myself that God is faithful.
To me, this is a fulfillment of God's promise to us that when we faithfully give he will return it. But to others, this could be mere coincidence and therefore not attributable to any God working things out. Either way is right because of what and who we believe.
Christianity, like the other religions [arguable], has a set of beliefs and practices. These include, for the purposes of our discussion, tithing, offering, seed sowing.Both the rich and the poor are obligated to give as exemplified by the account of Jesus and the poor widow who gave her all in a church offering after the rich people have also given. This is to accentuate the point that giving is part of Christianity.And when we give, we should expect a return from God; there is more blessings in giving than receiving.
Does or Will God test us on giving. Yes, God, through the prophet Elijah, tested the widow of Zarephath to give her only food left for herself and the son which she obeyed. The prophet had early on promised that her house would not run out of food. Truly, after she had obeyed, she had a bountiful of food [flour and oil] more than enough for the entire famine period.But will God test us more than what we can ever provide? No, God is an all-knowing one who knows our strengths and weaknesses. He wouldn't demand something from us knowing we cannot provide.
Is there a price to miracle? Generally, yes. Sometimes to receive God's miracle we need to pay a price for it. The story of the widow of Zarephath emphasizes this point. The prophet Elijah could have pitied the poor widow by first performing the miracle. Instead, he asked her to pay a price before the miracle could happen. And when she obeyed, she received the miracle.
Does the price we pay go to God? Or Does God need our wealth before he blesses us? No he doesn't. God only needs our obedience to his words. Therefore anyone who tells us to give and that our giving will be given to God is yet to meet the truth.
Now, on Greater Works 2017 Special Offering; there is a background information to it which will be very useful to our discussion. Before the Special Offering was taken, there was a normal offertory session for everybody to give willingly. Thereafter came the Special Offering led by the Speaker of the night who had told the congregants the benefits of sowing and encouraged the latter to sow.While there is nothing wrong with that per se, the challenge however is the limitations inherent in the categorization and the least amount which beg for answers.
First, the least amount was GHS 300.00 or $ 70.00. Could everybody have afforded that? No, there are people who just couldn't afford however hard they stretched themselves. Is that the reason why it was Special Offering? Special Offering because it was not meant for everyone? Barely a month ago, similar thing happened in my church. In a Special Offering session after the normal offertory, the leader of that session stopped at two Ghana Cedis. His reason was that the direction was to end with that amount even though he knew that people had less than that and were willing to give.I held a view and still do that when it comes to the blessings of God to his children everybody is and must be entitled to.But where children of God are denied the opportunity to receive the blessings of God in whatever form by virtue of the little yet which is all that they have, raises questions. The account of the widow who gave her little yet her all should suffice for this point.
Second, the offering type places a limitation. While it is the thinking of many that the poor will fall short in choosing a type for themselves because they lack the wherewithal, same goes for the rich who is equally likely not able to find a type of his or her preference. Some do have the money more than what was being asked and ready to give but needed something else which was not there. How do such people also get their share of what they genuinely wanted?
Third, the issue of the propriety of the five thousand dollars should not arise so long as we have people whose social class[wealth] can afford them to give that amount. Social classification existed even before and during the days of Jesus Christ, the reason why there is the mention of the poor and the rich. While the rich has the capacity to give more to society and the church, the poor should also have the opportunity to give to society and the church. Because the one who is to bless looks into the heart.And the truth is, not everyone who gives will receive no matter the amount given. Our obedience to his word is what matters and not the amount.
In closing, it is worth-cautioning, however, that we need to be careful with how we consider everything spiritual. Yes, some things are spiritual and therefore cannot be comprehended by our physical minds. However, the danger is that when we insist that everything is spiritual we then give some people the chance to do anything justifying it with the unknown.'Before you follow me, follow Jesus'- Pastor Mensa Otabil, Greater Works 2017.