“There are many ways in which children can earn money themselves and can act their part in bringing thank offerings to Jesus, who gave His own life for them.” – Adventist Home, p. 387.
This is the second installment of a three-part series encouraging people–particularly young people–to financially support the cause of God. Last time we mentioned a few practical ways to save money in your daily life. Today we’ll do the same for earning.
Sell Your Stuff
Mark 6 records the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. When the disciples wanted to send the multitude away to buy food for themselves, Christ challenged them saying, “You give them something to eat.” Incredulous, the disciples asked, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” In response, Jesus simply asked, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” What Jesus was able to do through the small store of goods on hand should be a lesson for us today.
Liquidate your assets by selling stuff you already have. Garage sales, consignment shops, and online vendors like Ebay can turn otherwise unused clutter into the very means needed to further God’s work. Emilie and I have saved and made literally thousands of dollars on Craigslist alone.
“The means in our possession may not seem to be sufficient for the work; but if we will move forward in faith, believing in the all-sufficient power of God, abundant resources will open before us. If the work be of God, He Himself will provide the means for its accomplishment. He will reward honest, simple reliance upon Him. The little that is wisely and economically used in the service of the Lord of heaven will increase in the very act of imparting.” – The Desire of Ages, p. 371.
“Many a child who lives out of the city can have a little plot of land where he can learn to garden. He can be taught to make this a means of securing money to give to the cause of God.” – Adventist Home, p. 387 For some, gardening and selling produce at a roadside stand is still possible, while for others, being part of an army of youth gardeners just isn’t really a viable option. Nevertheless, take that same gardening spirit and do something equally enterprising. Make decorative mason jar crafts to sell door-to-door or at flea markets, like soup mixes, homemade laundry detergent, or glow-in-the dark gak. (yes, those last two are actual things- look them up!). While they were mere teenagers, Ellen Harmon and her two sisters exemplified this godly entrepreneurial spirit, determining to raise money for the cause of God through personal industry.
“Our father was a hatter, and it was my allotted task to make the crowns of the hats, that being the easiest part of the work. I also knit stockings at twenty-five cents a pair. My heart was so weak that I was obliged to sit propped up in bed to do this work; but day after day I sat there, happy that my trembling fingers could do something to bring in a little pittance for the cause I loved so dearly. Twenty-five cents a day was all I could earn. How carefully would I lay aside the precious bits of silver taken in return, which were to be expended for reading matter to enlighten and arouse those who were in darkness!” – Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 47
If a sickly teenage girl in the 19th century could make 25¢ a day knitting socks, what on earth can you do today? Set up the proverbial–or even maybe even literal–lemonade stand and see how the Lord blesses!
If not wealthy in material goods, shift your focus to services. What things can you do that other people can’t or would rather not do for themselves? You don’t need expensive equipment to do many of the routine tasks people avoid. Armed with just a little wagon of supplies, go door-to-door in area
subdivisions. Offer, for a nominal fee (or better yet, a donation to a particular mission project) to clean houses, weed gardens and flowerbeds, or wash/detail cars. If you raised even $10 in an hour, that’s still the equivalent of a $10/hr job that required no interview process, uniform, long-term commitment, or really any overhead or start-up costs!
Even in a dormitory situation, this type of service industry could be fruitful. Watch a bunch of YouTube instructional videos, buy a set of clippers and shears from Walmart, and turn your dorm room into a low- cost, high-profit barbershop. Or how about this: iron and starch shirts for 25¢ apiece or 5 for $1. Literally anything people can do but don’t enjoy doing is an opportunity to forward the cause of God.
A non-commercial yet equally equitable use of your time and talents could be to have several of your friends put together a mission and music program that you put on for local church vespers. Have some special music numbers interspersed with testimonies of the creative ways you’ve saved and earned for the cause of Christ and at the end collect a love offering that will be added to those funds.
“In many instances if promising youth were wisely encouraged and properly directed, they could be led to earn their own schooling by taking up the sale of Christ’s Object Lessons or The Ministry of Healing. In selling these books they would be acting as missionaries, for they would be bringing light to the notice of the people of the world. At the same time they would be earning money to enable them to attend school where they could continue their preparation for wider usefulness in the Lord’s cause.” – Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 526
I’m encouraged by the thousands of Adventist young people who continue to heed this call for youth colporteurs by participating in summer literature evangelism programs. Ask almost anyone who has taken up this challenging work and they’ll tell you it not only raises money for the cause of Christ but helps develop a Christ-like character as well. If you’ve never done literature work, its never too late to start.
There was a time when Ingathering was a highlight of local church life. I vividly recall tagging along with our little singing bands roving through nearby neighborhoods in the freezing cold to knock on doors and solicit donations for mission work, after which everyone would head to the gym to thaw out and drink hot cider. For a great many, Ingathering, like an Adventist lithograph from Courier and Ives, still evokes fond holiday memories of days gone by.
If your church no longer has an active Ingathering program, get a few friends together and volunteer to breathe new life into the ministry Mrs. White declared in Christian Service p. 167 to have “proved a success, bringing blessing to many, and increasing the flow of means into the mission treasury.” (For a handy compilation of Mrs. White’s counsel in this area, click here.)
Clearly the Lord doesn’t need our nickels, dimes, and quarters. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He declares in Psalm 50:12 how “the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” But His purpose in using us as His agents is as much for our salvation as it is those we’re trying to help. Just as the Lord taught the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:18, I believe He is still teaching us today that His blessing in material wealth is to be a continual reminder of His covenant of peace: “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”