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2 envelopes, church business meeting reflect Baptist concern for Mitch reli

DALLAS (BP)–Two envelopes received in Texas and a church business meeting in Oklahoma reflect the concern of Baptists worldwide to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch in Central America.
In one envelope was $70, an offering from Baptist Men in Cuba.
“This is from a country where the average worker’s monthly salary is $20,” said Jim Furgerson, executive director of Texas Baptist Men, who received both envelopes.
In the other envelope were two small boxes, each containing a necklace.
“Our family does not have a lot of money, but God has impressed me to give what I have for relief efforts related to Hurricane Mitch,” the giver wrote in an accompanying note about the two pieces of jewelry.
“One is a gold serpentine necklace. It was a gift I purchased for myself about two to three years ago. … The original price was $400, but I got it for half-price during a pre-Christmas sale. You know, I’ve always felt guilty wearing such an expensive piece of jewelry.
“The second necklace is very, very special. It was a gift given to me from a wonderful elderly lady who worked in the nursery when our children were infants. … Our family ‘adopted’ her and drove her here and there as she had no family in the town where we lived. The necklace was a special gift to me when we moved away.
“I’m sorry that I cannot give cash. Please sell these for whatever you can obtain. I pray that the Lord multiplies their value.”
Meanwhile, the 180-member Willis Baptist Church near Lake Texoma, Okla., has contributed $10,000 from its general fund for Hurricane Mitch relief efforts — more than one-fifth of the congregation’s overall 1997 budget of $47,000. The church also is several hundred dollars over its 1998 goal of $1,750 for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
In a Wednesday business meeting after praying and then voting to send $1,000 for relief efforts, pastor Gary Dempsey recounted, one of the deacons “was sitting there listening and he teared up and said, ‘I’m kind of embarrassed because here we sit on this [general fund] money and they’re down there with nothing, and [$1,000 is] just not enough.”
“So we went back to praying again, and after we had prayed, one of the deacons said, ‘I think we should send $10,000.’ At the same time, four or five other people said, ‘That’s exactly the same amount I think we should send.’”
Dempsey said “Experiencing God” discipleship materials several members had studied have helped enhance the church’s spiritual sensitivity.
“It was quite an evening,” Dempsey said. “I had been telling my people that if they skipped business meeting, one of these days they were going to miss a blessing, and those who weren’t there that night did.”
Compiled by Art Toalston from reporting by Ken Camp of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and Bob Nigh, new managing editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger.