Letter from Our Director

February 2018

“This one’s on me.”

Those were the words of my barber last week after he finished cutting my hair. I’ve been going to Roger’s shop every month for the past seven years. When we moved to a different town 11 miles away in 2016, I didn’t change barbers because I’m particular about my haircuts and Roger always knows exactly what “the usual” means when I sit down in that big brown leather chair.

I’ll admit, I was a bit uncomfortable when I pulled out my wallet to pay last Friday morning and Roger told me I didn’t owe anything. After all, I’m the one who likes to be generous and who has tipped him beyond “the usual” for years and years. I was just about to protest when the words got caught in my throat and I remembered what I’ve told countless others for decades:

Don’t rob someone else of the joy of being a blessing in your life.

As I walked out the door, I couldn’t help but think of the old preachers and widows we help through Mission:Dignity. So many of these have been givers all their lives, often sacrificing their own comforts for the good of others. They know the tremendous joy of giving, but it can be difficult to find yourself on the receiving end of generosity.

Bruce and Alma Lanier surely felt that way when they first applied for a grant from Mission:Dignity back in 1997. The Laniers served at least seven different churches in North and South Carolina, including Galeed Baptist Church in Bladenboro where Bruce pastored for 20 years. Bruce died in December, but this note in my office is one reminder of what your care and compassion meant to them and will continue to mean to Alma as we walk alongside her in the days ahead:

My wife and I thank the Lord daily for His love and for the gift we receive from Mission:Dignity. During the 43 years I was a pastor, my desire was to help people in need. We have discussed how wonderful it was when we could give and help others, and we still do in a smaller way. There isn’t any way we can fully express how thankful and blessed we are through your love, help and prayers. Your assistance each month gives us new hope!

Fortunately, the Laniers didn’t hesitate when offered a grant from Mission:Dignity. But that’s not always the case. So many times, I’ve spoken with an aged pastor after we’ve been made aware of a need. We know he meets the program guidelines. We know he and his wife are having a difficult time. We know they can use some additional income each month. Yet, they don’t feel comfortable accepting a gift and they don’t want to be a burden on others.

I can appreciate that sentiment and I’m sure you can, too. But my counsel to these folks each time is this:

Don’t rob someone else of the joy of being a blessing in your life.

Indeed, you’ve been a blessing in the lives of our retired individuals or couples through your Mission:Dignity gift this month. The monies you’ve shared will allow an old preacher or his widow to buy groceries, pay for a utility bill or get a prescription filled.

And, while you can be assured there are expressions of gratitude and joy on the receiving end of your gift, I trust that your heart also is filled with great joy for the privilege we have of giving back to those who gave so much for the sake of Christ and the gospel.

Thanks for giving generously. Thanks for giving joyfully. And thank you once more for reminding God’s faithful servants they are loved and not forgotten in their later years.

Grace and peace . . . and joy!

John Ambra 

John Ambra

Director of Development

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