This last weekend was a kairos moment at church. I think it’s another one of those days we will look back on as a clear memory of a time when God showed up.
It all started when the pastor led us to devote 2011 as a year devoted to developing a Passion of God. As a part of heading into the second series of the year, we asked author and speaker Bruce Wilkinson to come for a weekend. As he was working on his message, he saw a special on 60 Minutes about a new kind of homelessness in Central Florida. He was moved.
The next week he spoke with our pastor and asked if he could talk about this issue, and call our people toward intimacy with God through sacrificial giving. He asked what our dream amount would be. Could we trust God to lead his people to give a million dollars?
You have to know Central Florida to know how big of a deal this was. 11% unemployment. Many of the people in our congregation have taken large pay cuts. To ask them to give that much over and about their budget giving… well… it would take a movement of God.
During the weekend, Wilkinson called this a kairos moment. This was an opportunity. We, as a church body, had been increasing our involvement in local mission opportunities. This year we launched Love Orlando and had started doing some things under that banner. But this news report brought to light a new level of homelessness. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of children going to bed hungry in hotels across Central Florida.
I heard about the million dollar goal. The skeptic in me wanted to laugh it off, but the faithfulness in me said, no, we can do this. God can move our people to do it. So I went into the weekend expecting to see a miracle.
At the end of the Saturday service, which had a little over 1/10 of our total attendance, Wilkinson began the offering. As the envelopes were handed in, he kept a running total. I sat in the control room watching this unfold. I was amazed as number after number was called out. $10,000. $30,000. $70,000.
The grand total of the night was $506,000. We still had the next two services, where the vast majority of our congregation would attend. The next morning I told someone that I thought we would surpass $3 million that day. I was amazed. God was going to work a miracle in our presence. People in very hard financial times were going to respond to the call.
Of course, God had bigger plans. After the end of the 9:00 service we had already passed $3 million. By the end of the last service we had taken in gifts and pledges of $5.6 million.
Now we are putting plans together to use these funds to really help some people. And we have been very busy with news requests. When God moves, many times our small plans are overwhelmed.