Cheerfully Given

by Jim Armstrong

I have often wondered if Henry Groves and John McLean of Echoes of Service, or Thomas McLaren of Home and Foreign Mission Funds, ever imagined what God would do across the world when these organisations were first established in the 19th century. Groves and McLean would often refer to their ‘Epaphroditus ministry’, as Paul said, ‘I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God’ (Phil. 4:18). Giving, receiving and processing money is a fairly simple process. However, as I consider what God has done and continues to do worldwide, the significance of a gift cheerfully given is profound, as God exercises His people to give.

…the significance of a gift cheerfully given is profound, as God exercises His people to give.

Complexity of Giving

In 1872, moving money would have been a fairly cumbersome process, especially overseas. Today, we can move money anywhere in the world more or less instantaneously. Complexity in finance now comes from the many laws and regulations organisations are subject to. In some countries, political sanctions or overreaching governments prevent foreign money from getting to its intended recipients. As we face all these issues, we must ensure that we handle our finances correctly and within the law.

Unfortunately we live in a broken world, the only answer to which is Christ, and therefore we need to guard against fraud. Add to this different cultural values about money and we can begin to appreciate that the work of Echoes International is much more than just receiving and giving gifts. It is about making sure every penny is used in the Lord’s work as the giver intended.

At the core of Echoes International is the principle that every penny received is used for the purpose for which it was given.

All of the above are good reasons to use Echoes International, or a similar organisation, to gift money to the Lord’s work, and why we strongly advise against sending cheques to mission workers directly. This article has been written to provide readers with a clear view of what we do and how we operate. Echoes International works differently to almost any other organisation serving in cross-cultural mission when it comes to giving to the work we support.

Principles of Support

At the core of Echoes International is the principle that every penny received is used for the purpose for which it was given. Uniquely, nothing is deducted from this gift to help towards the costs or overheads of the charity. In the UK, taxpayers can claim Gift Aid when giving to Echoes International. If the donor falls within a higher tax bracket, he or she can claim the remainder of the tax via their annual tax return. This means that mission workers will receive an extra 20% on top of the gift amount.

Supporting Mission

Most mission agencies will deduct a percentage of any gift for their own running costs. An obvious question, then, is how does Echoes International pay its staff and overheads? These costs are met through funding from three sources:

‘This donation made a big impact to the churches in the Dominican Republic. We have received a lot of thankful comments from our brothers as a result of the gift.’

  1. Direct gifts from individuals and churches towards our expenses. It costs, in staffing, banking and exchange fees, to move money around. We estimate each gift costs Echoes International roughly 10% in expenses. Many churches and individuals send a 10% gift to Echoes International when asking them to process a gift.
  2. Over the years, brothers and sisters in Christ have requested money to be left to the charity in their wills. If the legacy is undesignated, we use 10% of it towards office expenses.
  3. Investment income on the capital that the Echoes International trustees have invested.

Motivated by Love

One of the things that overwhelms me as I work for Echoes International is the kindness of the Lord’s people in giving. Throughout the years, individuals and assemblies, motivated by love, have provided funds to be allocated at the discretion of the trustees, either through gifts or through legacies in their will. This allows the trustees to direct funds to where they see the greatest need and potential to further the gospel at that time. The disbursement of funds from Echoes International generally fall into five categories.

  1. A monthly allocation of funds to all mission workers commended by UK assemblies, who are listed in the Echoes International Daily Prayer Guide.
  2. Biannual gifts to assist national workers in various countries worldwide where there is little local support and not much visibility in the UK. These gifts are given to national workers in places such as Argentina, India, Pakistan, Portugal and Spain, among others.
  3. Biannual gifts to help finance strategic ministries where there are opportunities to assist in the spread of the gospel among indigenous believers through church planting, Bible training, study and the provision of study materials. At present we are sending more than half a million pounds each year to support national workers and projects. Examples of these projects can be found on our website here.
  4. Funds to respond immediately to global crises as they arise, such as the recent floods in India and the tsunami in Indonesia. We also provide assistance in places where Christians are marginalised.
  5. Gifts to respond to needs that come to our attention through the correspondence of mission workers, our sister mission service groups or from visits to workers. These gifts are provided as and when they are needed.

Charitable Obligations

As we are registered with the Charity Commission in England and OSCR in Scotland the trustees need to ensure that they:

  • act in the interests of the charity and its beneficiaries
  • protect and safeguard the assets of the charity
  • act with reasonable care and skill
  • ensure the charity is accountable.

In this regard, they need to demonstrate to the regulators that they are treating the charity as an ongoing concern and are able to meet all of its obligations. One of the things they do is create a reserve of funds for the charity, which will be used if the income levels drop or a significant unforeseen event takes place, for example, a one-off cost that will impact their normal operations.

There is a fine line the trustees need to walk in being dependent on the Lord, as they are, and meeting the requirements of the regulators. Our published reserves policy details how this is managed and a copy of this can be found on our website here.

Fragrant Offering

It is a great privilege to be involved in a work where the Holy Spirit prompts a church or an individual to give a financial gift and to see that gift make a real difference. We live in a selfish world where there is so much focuson wealth and convenience. Our Lord and Saviour sees and values all that we do for Him. Not one penny is wasted when given towards the work of the gospel.

‘We wondered how we would meet these costs, but the arrival of the advice note proved to us just how the Lord acts on time and every time.’

  1. The monthly allocation to mission workers is equitable and is based on their personal situation and linked to the United Nations model, which compares the costs of living worldwide. We monitor currency fluctuations with the dollar and the euro and do not take any other third-party gifts into consideration when making the monthly allocation.
  2. 2018 was the first year of Echoes International operating after the merger between Echoes of Service and Interlink. To further aid transparency, Echoes International will publish its annual audited accounts on our website when available later in the year.

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