Asking During A Famine

“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.’ So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, ‘Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?’ As she was going to get it, he called, ‘And bring me, please, a piece of bread’ (1 Kings 17:7-11).” 
 
Should we ask for gifts during a crisis? The conventional wisdom among fundraising professionals is to not ask but instead focus on strengthening your donor relationships. Certainly, people give to people they know and love so cultivating relationships is time well spent. But how do we reconcile this account of Elijah asking a widow for her last meal in the middle of a famine? 
 
Asking provides an opportunity for spiritual growth, but the widow pushed back, “I only have a handful of flour and a little oil in a jug” (1 Kings 17:12). Amazingly, Elijah asked a second time and shared this promise, “Don’t be afraid… ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’” (vs. 13-14). Could God use your boldness to shake people from their fears and prompt them to give generously trusting that God will meet their needs? 
 
Perhaps the nature of the ask makes a difference. Is your need urgent? Elijah’s ask was for his immediate needs to sustain him physically. Paul asked the Corinthian church to help the believers in Jerusalem because they were destitute. We see this today. People are eager to help when a natural disaster occurs and will often put other important projects on hold. 
 
If your ministry has a direct impact helping people during this Coronavirus pandemic, you have a green light to ask. One ministry that works primarily oversees has expanded their program focus to provide emergency food and hygiene kits to struggling families in the U.S. Part of their appeal also asks for help to erase their budget shortfall as a result of the crisis. If you don’t have a direct ministry impact, don’t be tone deaf to this emergency or your donor’s anxieties. Instead, show concern for them, update them on your situation, present your needs and if the Spirit leads, ask them to prayerfully consider giving a sacrificial gift any time over the next few months before your fiscal year end. 
 
Generosity is based on faith, not finances or fear. 
 
Friend, may you have a Spirit-led fundraising week! 
Ron

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