Tom Bradford is my NCF colleague in Alabama. I’ve known him for 15 years, and he seems to always be in step with where the Spirit is working. Because of his recent success in seeing ministries headquartered near Birmingham receive immediate help, we tried a strategy in Georgia that he had used in Birmingham, and the results have been remarkable.
Here’s what Tom did. He challenged his network of friends to give enough to purchase gift cards at a 50 percent discount from thrift stores around their town that support ministries and homeless missions. The gift cards were then given to nearby churches, who were able to share them with those out of work and in need of food and clothing. He set up the Alabama COVID-19 Relief Fund, and in short time, $100,000 was given to provide real-time donations to missions. And when these thrift stores reopen, $200,000 of gift cards will be spent by those in dire need.
Right before I heard of what Tom was doing, I had been thinking. Albany, Georgia – a small town of 75,000 that is 40 miles from the nearest interstate – has faced one of the worst outbreaks of COVID-19 per capita in the nation. One of our NCF Georgia givers designated a generous gift to the Albany Rescue Mission, and this had led me to think about other rescue missions – those serving the poor, the homeless, people in recovery. How could we help more of them?
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me … All day long I put my hope in you.
– Psalm 25:4-5
When I heard about what Tom had done through his network, I knew I already had a pattern our team could follow. So we set up the Give Now Georgia COVID-19 Relief Fund to help organizations throughout Georgia. It’s coming together quickly.
We hope to buy gift cards from 10 thrift stores that support seven ministries in Georgia. They will be distributed to families out of work, and when those thrift stores open back up for business, those who received the gift cards will be able to purchase what they need.
The Georgia team launched this effort at the end of last week, and more than $20,000 has been given so far.
What a privilege it has been to broker for the Lord! This is how I see it. I am neither the giver nor the receiver of the generosity that is filling these funds. I am a broker.
What a privilege it has been to broker for the Lord! This is how I see it. I am neither the giver nor the receiver of the generosity that is filling these funds. I am a broker. Through this program, I have become a broker of God’s hope to organizations doing good work under difficult conditions. You see, a broker is someone who serves as a trusted agent in connecting two or more people who do business together, keenly recognizing a need and then bringing to bear relationships and resources to help solve the problem.
Every day, Christians are praying, asking God to make them aware of people who need to be connected with other people, using their influence to make good happen for those who are struggling, or facilitating resources to help ministries excel in their obedience to Christ.
These Christians are taking up God’s commissions to bring hope, to lighten the load for someone on the verge of despair, to bring faith to someone who is losing hold of theirs or never had any, to apply their faith to spiritual, relational, and sometimes even economic transactions. These are God’s bold hope brokers.
My 82 year old friend, Tom, is brokering hope, and that hope has become contagious. I hope it spreads to where you live.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
– Romans 15:13, NLT