What we’re forgetting in Sabbath School

Offering plate sitting on a row of chairs. Friday, March 21, 2008.
(Photo by: James Cotter)
Offering plate sitting on a row of chairs. Friday, March 21, 2008. (Photo by: James Cotter)

Written by: Violet Petrikas

Last year, on a warm morning, I sat in the downstairs adult Sabbath school, listening to the leader read from one of Ellen White’s writings. I had only recently moved up from the young adult Sabbath school to the adult, so I sat in the back row, hoping that the leader wouldn’t call on me to read a paragraph from “The Great Controversy. 

As I listened, I watched a deacon hand a small envelope to a woman. The woman smiled and passed the envelope to the person on her right. I continued to watch as the envelope was passed around from attendee to attendee, never stopping. 

“That’s pathetic,” I thought. 

However, when the envelope came to me, I felt its lightness, and I too passed it to my right. A few minutes later, the deacon returned to pick up the empty envelope. 

Later that morning, I sat in the front pew of the sanctuary and listened to the worship speaker urge the congregation to give their time and resources to the mission field. The speaker discussed the great need for workers and funds in the 10/40 Window — a conceptual area in the northern hemisphere that includes Asia, Northern Africa and the Middle East and is home to more than two-thirds of the world’s population. An estimated 5.11 billion people live in the 10/40 Window, and three out of every five people in the Window have no access to the Gospel, according to a report by Advancing Native Missions. This area is also home to the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. 

As I listened, I began to understand the enormous amount of people in need of the Gospel, and I asked myself, “Do I give to foreign missions? Am I putting money in that little envelope that seems to circulate Sabbath school in vain?” No, I am not. 

In “More than Numbers,” an article published on adventistmission.org, Adventist Review editor Andrew McChesney reports that in 1930, during a time when the world economy was suffering from the devastating effects of the Great Depression, Adventists gave $6.45 in mission offering for every $10 they gave in tithe. However, by 2008, the number was 36 cents for every $10 in tithe. The World Mission Fund offering — the Sabbath School offering — goes toward reaching those in need of hearing the Gospel. 

The Bible says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14, NKJV) But how can the Gospel spread throughout the world when there is such a deficit in mission funding?

A great work needs to be done in foreign fields. And though it is true that we cannot give all our resources to foreign missions, we can give more. As Adventists, we are called to help finish the work so that we can all go home. Money for foreign missions is an eternal investment, so the last thing we should do is neglect giving to that little envelope that circulates in Sabbath school. 

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