My story of access to the gospel, the story of saving faith, goes back to a couple named Don and Adrianne Badgley. I was raised in a Christian home. My parents did so much to “train me in the way” as the Proverb says, but despite their best efforts, I was far from God going into the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.
The Badgleys had a son my age and every Wednesday night for 5 years, along with 10 or so other classmates, they opened up their home, fed us dinner, and talked to us. Sometimes it was a video about the wonder of the world, the transformation that took place in someone’s life, or a lesson from the Bible. One weekend this couple took all of us to a youth concert. At this event, the chance to go to Albania for the summer to do street dramas was presented. For some reason that sounded like something I wanted to do.
The Badgley’s church took a risk on me. This was a small church of, maybe, 30 people. My life up to that point did not show much promise. But they helped raise the $4,000 to pay for me to experience this (and this was over 20 years ago, so that would be more today). The trip transformed my life. Why would people do that? Especially for someone who showed so little promise? I think they were aware of what God did for them and it simply overflowed onto the opportunity presented to them—me! These people had been overwhelmed by the rich blessing and sheer gift of grace. And the overwhelmed, overflowed.
I was part of a wonderful church, Muncie Alliance Church, at a time when this kind of overwhelming overflow was taking place. About 10 years ago, 5 new churches were started by Muncie Alliance Church. I was part of a team that started one of those in Huntington IN. Muncie Alliance gave away 100’s of people and good leaders to make that happen. Why would a church do that? I would submit that is simply an example of the generosity that results from the joy of realizing what one has been given. We don’t hold on. The overwhelmed, overflow.
My current church in Bloomingdale is a great example, too. That community has sent almost a dozen people to work internationally. Just in the past two years we have sent a single guy to Central Asia, a single gal to South Asia, a couple to North Africa, a couple to Guadalajara, Mexico, and another couple to Uruguay. These are amazing people. Was this painful to have so much staff leave? You bet! In more ways than one. All of these people had been in our church for several years, not just floating through over a couple of months. Why would a church do that? I would submit that is simply an example of the generosity that results from the joy of access. We don’t hold on. The overwhelmed, overflow.
God is a God that didn’t hold on—and doesn’t hold on. He doesn’t hoard. And this same trait marks his people. Paul commented about one church saying, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity….For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:2,9) I think this principle speaks to how we handle everything we’ve been given, whether money, family, buildings, or people. Assets are for access, in God’s economy.
You happened to be born in a time, place, and to people who brought you the opportunity to hear the message of Christ. May the joy of realizing the access (the opportunity, riches, and sheer gift) you’ve been given, overwhelm you and cause you to overflow to make the gospel accessible to others.