Almost Anonymous: Giving is Never Really Secret (Updated!!)
Anonymous (not his real name) will remain unknown to everyone who reads this account…but I can promise he is real and this story is true.
A few years ago Anonymous was moved by a random email from a bishop within the ACNA. This man was at a particularly prayerful and important time in his life. He was near retirement; he had sold a business. And he was waiting for guidance from the Lord on how to best honor Him for His provision. The random email from the bishop sparked his imagination. (The bishop would become our Archbishop, Foley Beach.)
Subsequently through prayer, Anonymous landed on Isaiah 58 as the inspiration for what God was calling him to do.
Isaiah 58 reads (in part), “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” (This is a foretaste of what Jesus says in Matthew 25.)
Anonymous was convinced that God was calling him to set aside a significant amount of money for the work of compassion and justice for the poor. He contacted our Archbishop and asked if funds might be needed within the ACNA.
Fast-forward a few years. Last March, our archbishop asked me to meet this man and help find a way to make this vision happen. That’s when the fun began!
He was the real deal. He truly did offer to give a lot of money to ministries that were helping the disadvantaged. I met him; we spend a day together talking, connecting, and praying. I set up a system of application and discernment for these funds and to date, $321,518 has been given for 24 different ministries. And since these are matching funds, double that to determine the total amount placed into ministry!
Also, inspired and funded by the Matthew 25 program, a gathering of Matthew 25 leaders was held recently in Austin, Texas and hosted by Christ Church. I was there…and so was Archbishop Beach. What an inspirational event! We were both humbled by this group of 65 lay ministers and clergy from the US, Canada, and Mexico who met to pray, build community, establish common language and values. And they will meet again!
The Gathering was aptly called: “Justice and Mercy Contending for Shalom”. This meeting was also the outgrowth of Archbishop Beach’s vision to raise up and provide for this kind of ministry in our ACNA churches. It was funded in part by the Matthew 25 Initiative.
Specific details of the matching fund program called The Matthew 25 Initiative are available at the link and applicants are urged to apply for matching grants. New ministries and new applications are hoped for soon. See details at the site. Application for grants are due by the end of April.
All of this was made possible because someone said “Yes” to a God-given call upon his life and resources. (There is more money available…but I can quickly see that more money will be needed.)
Finally, I want to consider a deeper issue: Anonymous is anonymous…almost. The man cared more about being obedient more than being known. He cared about faithfulness over fame. And God is using him and these resources for the advance of the Gospel and for the good of the poor and marginalized.
But, in fact, nothing we do is really ever anonymous. It can only be mostly anonymous. There is One who knows…and for all those who give and give freely and in secret, there is One who sees in secret. Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4)
(Updated story; also posted at LeaderWorks)
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