EDITOR’S NOTE: Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 24 across the Southern Baptist Convention.
DALLAS (BP) — No matter how little they appeared to have, Roy and Janice Southern understood one undeniable truth: You can’t out-give the Lord.
Whether it was selling his gun to help a fellow seminary student at Criswell College pay for his textbooks or giving $100 from their Mission:Dignity gift to a widow they knew couldn’t afford her medicine, the Southerns have been faithful throughout their lives to share what they had with others.
“God promised us that He would take care of us if we were obedient to Him,” Janice said.
The Southerns are like most Mission:Dignity recipients: They served in out-of-the-way places, never worrying about their paycheck, always trusting in the Lord’s provision. It was a ministry that took them to South Dakota, Utah, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.
“When [we were serving] in South Dakota, they had promised us $50 a month to come out there,” Roy recalled. “Of course, we had tried to put the pencil to it and figure it out, and we couldn’t figure out how we were going to get by, but God already had plans.
“We felt God leading us to the church and went ahead and moved with a promise of $50. It wound up that they only could pay us $20, but God provided a job for us. We became school bus drivers and made enough money driving the school bus to supplement our income that we were getting by.”
A second church nearby needed a pastor and so Roy became pastor of two churches at the same time; that second church had a parsonage where the Southerns could live.
Another time, while serving in Utah among the Ute American Indian tribes, Roy recalled another way the Lord provided.
“We had a deacon that would come by, drink coffee on Monday morning after the church service,” Roy said. “When Janice would pick up the cup to wash it, there would be a $20 bill underneath the cup. So, God has His ways. We just simply trust, and that’s all I can say. We just trusted.”
A move to pastoring in Mississippi and Louisiana eventually allowed the Southerns to save for retirement through GuideStone Financial Resources, though it wasn’t much. Ultimately that money helped them buy the home where they reside. Concern for how they would pay their medical insurance coverage ultimately led them to GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity. The $350 monthly premium on their insurance supplement weighed heavy on their hearts.
“When we got that first check [from Mission:Dignity], it just about covered all of [the premium cost],” Roy said. “That was a tremendous blessing to us. That relieved a lot on our mind about how we were going to pay for this, and how we were going to have enough for groceries and buy our medications, too.”
Through GuideStone, which is marking 100 years of ministry in 2018, Mission:Dignity provides financial support to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows in financial need. Individuals can receive $225 per month and couples can receive $300. The neediest recipients with at least 25 years of paid Southern Baptist ministerial service can receive double. No Cooperative Program gifts undergird Mission:Dignity. Churches, Sunday School classes and individuals provide all the financial support. One hundred percent of all gifts given to Mission:Dignity go to support a retired servant in need. Administrative costs are covered by an established endowment. Last year, more than $7 million was raised and paid out for these workers.
“We just praise the Lord for people who contribute to Mission:Dignity,” Roy said.
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 24 across the Southern Baptist Convention. Churches can order free materials from GuideStone for use in June or any other time of their choosing to promote the ministry with church members. Visit MDSunday.org or call 1-877-888-9409 to order the materials. A video featuring the Southerns can also be viewed on the website.