I am very grateful for the invitation by NAD Stewardship Ministries to be one of the mentees for the 2023 Generosity Symposium at Greensboro, North Carolina. Though all this while I kind of knew what stewardship is all about, this symposium has definitely enriched my understanding of stewardship to a different level.
I was very blessed with attending one of the ten churches which participated in the Generosity Sabbath which saw ten different speakers from the Generosity Symposium speaking a Generosity message in local congregations. Besides the beautiful song service and special music in the church during divine worship, I was very blessed by the preaching of both Dr. and Mrs. Rudy Salazar. They highlighted the importance of our stewardship of time—especially in spending quality time with God in our personal devotion—as well as some practical tips on how we can do that.
On Sabbath afternoon we got to know each other. The discussion turned to the challenge of presenting stewardship in its true light as whole-life management after many have come to view it as nothing more than an ask for money. There is a great need to share the concepts of stewardship in positive and productive ways.
Dr. Steve Case, in his seminars on Connecting with Millennials/Gen Z, led us on an exciting exploration of how to make church appealing to our younger generations. Through a variety of illustrations and activities we gained a greater understanding of generational perceptions and priorities. He ended by proposing that the intergenerational church model, in which all generations prioritize listening to each other and sharing responsibilities, is the best option for healthy church function.
Scot Coppock’s presentation on Demystifying Planned Giving and Trust Services has helped me to understand this area on a different level. Truly, I have often caught myself feeling embarrassed or hesitant to fundraise even for good causes because I felt bad about taking money away from people. In contrast to that, Scot has helped me understand that philanthropists who have the opportunity to give to a worthy cause that they believe in are actually blessed by the experience. We ought to give them the opportunity to be blessed, as the Bible reminds us that “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
I was very blessed by Dr. Carlton Byrd’s powerful messages. I learned how important it is for us to be very flexible with our leadership after the pandemic in order to effectively witness for God and share the gospel. In willingness to adopt flexibility in our church services and outreach, we can actually reach a wider and more diverse audience which we might not have reached with just local in-person services. And the most amazing thing is to know that tithes and offerings have increased tremendously in some churches and conferences despite the pandemic. The pandemic doesn’t stop the gospel from moving forward, and neither does God’s church suffer financially from it. God is indeed in control and will provide and take care of His cause.
I appreciated Diana Smith’s presentation about Jesus on Social Media. She began by showing interviews she had conducted earlier at the convention asking people whether Jesus would be on social media if it had existed in His day. The majority of people agreed that Jesus would be, either by having his own accounts or because other people who did would be using them to talk about Him. I concur with Diana that we should make full use of the current social media to share Jesus with others. With so many people using social media, it’s certainly a pity if we don’t use these avenues to reach out to people—especially the younger generations. I sincerely believe that God’s messages must no longer be confined behind the pulpit if we are going to reach people who otherwise may never even go to church.
Troy Levy’s seminar on finances has greatly impacted my thoughts on finance. I appreciated his honesty in sharing his testimony about going out for a romantic dinner with his wife and being embarrassed because his credit card was declined. He told how he and his wife determined to change their way of managing money and their great success in building a strong financial management plan. It helped them eliminate debts in a short period of time and then built income with the surplus to invest for the future. The most awesome thing is that Troy has developed a workshop (The Blue Print) which guides people to true financial freedom. I was amazed to hear that many participants who attended his workshops eliminated debts as they learned good principles of financial management. Truly, gaining financial freedom is the best thing that would happen to anyone.
Last but not least, I was privileged to listen to Michael Harpe sharing the seven Ts of Revolutionary Generosity. The seven basic stewardship areas are T1-Time, T2-Temple, T3-Talent, T4-Treasure, T5-Trust in God, T6-Theology, and T7-Testimony. This concept of stewardship is wholistic and encompasses our whole being. It encourages me to see and experience stewardship in all parts of my life. God truly is concerned not only about my money, but my whole being. May He help me to be faithful steward for Him till the end.
Besides all those wonderful lectures, I was thankful for the opportunity to mind the stewardship booth at the Adventist Ministries Convention. I was amazed at the ways provided to educate and encourage people to promote stewardship in their churches and conferences. Many people walked away very happy with the generous assortment of resources available from our booth. I enjoyed talking with the people that stopped by. Besides that, I’m thankful for the opportunity to fellowship and network with many people at the Adventist Ministries Convention. It was my first, and a very blessed and memorable experience!
By Yuet Ming “Jenny” Wong
Jenny is originally from Penang, Malaysia. She converted from Buddhism through the efforts of her younger brother Johnny. She and her husband have three lovely children. While her husband pastors the Vancouver Chinese SDA Church in Vancouver, Canada, Jenny is working on her M.Div. from Andrews University and expects to graduate in August 2023. Jenny enjoys walking, playing badminton, and music; she has composed 15 Christian songs so far!