Here is a ministry that proves beauty can come from ashes.
Ashes to Beauty
A.W. Tozer wrote, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has wounded him deeply,” but in this article, we’ll see it as, “God cannot use a man greatly until He has wounded him deeply,” and deep are the wounds that death often brings. The Word of God cuts like a doubled-edged sword, but it cuts in order to heal, not kill. It brings life, not death, but Jesus’ death brought us life, and sometimes death brings us new life, for example when we lose a loved one. We’re not quite the same person anymore, but God has a history of bringing beauty out of ashes, and such is the case with Michael and Randi Kilbourne. After Brandon Kilbourne lost their son in August 2017, they grieved for a time, but then, they began to think of ways that could bring healing to their lives. What they discovered was healing came through helping others. It is from this simple statement (to help others) that Vision of Giving was born. Vision of Giving is a nonprofit benefactor created by Michael and Randi Kilbourne, and it’s designed to support missions that small, local churches chooses to support. They provide financial and moral support for those churches which have little of either. Vision of Giving provides support to churches for their local efforts and the missions they choose that directly impact the local community. Vision of Giving, inspired by grieving parents Michael and Randi Kilbourne, proves that suffering is never wasted, and sometimes, the suffering of one can bring comfort to others.
Broken before God
Our church has a prison ministry, and what I’ve discovered by experience is that God cannot fix what is first not broken. That is, until a person is humbled, they are resisting God‘s grace (James 4:6), so when some of these men confess their sins, their faults, and their brokenness, they can be nearer to God than before. The Psalmist wrote, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18), and nearly every one to a man agree that they do want to be nearer to the Lord. Many of these men have already been crushed by the consequences of their actions. They regret what they did and now they have come to the end of themselves. Their backs are now against the wall, or more precisely, are surrounded by four walls, but, it’s only when their broken that God’s Spirit can come in and penetrates the stony hearts. By His Spirit, He creates a new heart and new desire for God (2nd Cor 5:17-20). Feeling crushed lately? It’s good to know because “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted,” so if that’s you, you’re nearer to God than most of us are. Rarely does prosperity draw us closer to God, so what if suffering brought us into a closer relationship with God, and He used your suffering to become more holy as He is holy? It seems that afflictions can create in us a renewed desire to live in obedience to God and His Word. But it can also create a new zeal in us, to be more on mission for Christ.
The word compassion comes from a compound of two words: Com (with, or together) and passion (suffer with, to feel pity), so when we see people without Christ, we should be moved with compassion, knowing their ultimate destination without Christ. That should move our hearts to action. What price are you willing to pay to help rescue a person’s soul from an eternal separation from God? Are you willing to be scorned, rejected, name-called, and insulted to the nth degree for the sake of Christ? For others, their suffering experience became an evangelistic tool for Christ. That’s what birthed Vision of Giving. They strive to make Christ known to the local community, and the best way to reach people in the community is through people who live in that community, and that’s the local church. They desire to give the same comfort to others that God’s given them (2 Cor 1:3-4). These prisoners can show the world that where there is great sin, there is a greater Savior. Where sins have done their damage, grace abounds all the more. That’s because, where there is much forgiven, there is much love (Luke 7:47)!
The founders of Vision of Giving are traveling all across the US this year. It is their intention to continue to visit and support the local church’s mission in the local communities they reside in. These include benevolences, food pantries, sponsoring kids to camp, delivering food to firefighters, or whatever the local church sees as their mission field. These are but a few of the examples of the efforts of Vision of Giving. Their stated purpose: “Following our Christian values, Vision of Giving uses the ‘Feed My Sheep’ philosophy in our efforts to help others,” so they’ve been working with local churches across the US to enable them to reach out to people that need help the most. Essentially, Vision of Giving is a traveling charity that goes directly to the local community church so they can make a positive impact in the lives of that community. There are no applications or demanding paperwork necessary to qualify. Each church is treated individually and with respect to their local communities.
How Does it Work?
How does Vision of Giving determine who to help and with what resources? First of all, they don’t seek to strengthen already strong churches because they already have sufficient resources, but rather, they seek to strengthen rural or small town churches that don’t have many or any resources, but they leave it up to the local churches. These churches nominate the mission within their membership to receive the gift. It is up to them to decide what they want to do for the community. During the onsite visit to the church, Vision of Giving joins hands in a joint effort to support the missions that the local church chooses, and a mission which is based upon the greatest needs of the local community. Vision of Giving thrives on the positive impact they provide in helping those in need. That is their purpose. They enable and empower churches to reach those who otherwise might not receive help, and they do this by providing resources for smaller churches that have little or no resources of their own. In short, they want to help the church be the church (Matt 25:35-36; James 1:27).
As we have read, the great suffering this family has endured is paying dividends today and will be paying dividends into eternity. They are sowing into the kingdom the resources that Christ has provided for them. If your church has few resources for missions, please contact them today. My only purpose was to reveal that Vision of Giving is giving to others with no obligations or strings, and their sole purpose is to ease the pain and suffering of others; or to give others the same comfort that God Himself gave them. Whatever that looks like depends on the church and the community. But giving has always been the way of God (John 3:16). For more information, please email Vision of Giving at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website, VisionofGiving.org. Neither I nor the church received any compensation for writing this.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.