I consider it an honor and a privilege to have been elected Associate Director for the Stewardship Department at the North American Division. It is a testament to the grace and power of God to take our greatest failures and utilize them as steppingstones for creating an effective ministry. God started 35 years ago with this young Mexican-born minister, speaking very broken English, with poor money management skills, and began molding me for this position through failure.
I realize that Stewardship encompasses more than finances. Specifically, it involves time, talent, temple and treasure; the four T’s of Stewardship. But God began teaching me about stewardship early in my marriage in the area of finances. My wife, Janet, and I were successful professionals making good money and pursuing the American dream. We took advantage of the credit card offers and easy financing to buy a home, cars, expensive vacations, entertainment and dined out frequently. At some point, it caught up with us and we could no longer pay what we owed. Through the advice of a non-Christian lawyer, we decided to declare bankruptcy. We felt the financial failure keenly and were extremely embarrassed to share it with our families. But it was this failure that drove us to study biblical financial management and to begin implementing what we were learning. That failure turned into a blessing as we began to see the difference that following God’s financial advice made in our lives.
Now, when I present at camp meetings and churches, it is not just theory that I have learned from reading books, but I share practical biblical principles that I personally have learned to utilize. And I share my testimony about the difference that it has made in my own life following God’s financial advice. For my wife and I, it began with a prayer of repentance and a commitment to pay back all the debt that we discharged through the bankruptcy. We made the commitment that if God would help us pay it all back, we would return 20% of our income to God in tithes and offerings. And God worked in amazing ways so that in about three and half years we were able to pay back everything we owed and begin giving 20% in tithes and offerings. These principles, I have applied in pastoring churches and be able to help churches who had financial troubles to live within their means and not be in the red. It is my goal to promote biblical stewardship in the North American Division in such a way that it will inspire people to not only be faithful but, more importantly, cheerful givers. Like Elder Alex Bryant said to us in a recent meeting: “our task is beyond human capacity…”, so my prayer is that God will continue molding and training me to serve Him and His church in this foundational area of Christian life.
By Rudy Salazar, Stewardship Associate Director, North American Division