Asking During a Famine

“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).

God supplied Elijah’s needs during the famine with a brook and a raven. When the brook dried up, God provided for Elijah through a widow. Should we ask for gifts during an economic crisis? Elijah did 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). This passage teaches four truths about asking.

Asking Tests a Donor’s Priorities

The widow’s plan was to prepare a last meal for herself and her son and die. Elijah’s request forced her to reprioritize her meager resources. Would she believe and give what she had or hoard it for herself and die? Your donors face the same challenge, “How can I be sure God will open the floodgates of heaven and pour out his blessings (see Mal. 3:10)?” When you ask for a gift, you give your donors an opportunity to respond in faith with a generous gift.

Asking Triggers God’s Blessing

Who benefited from Elijah’s request? Elijah, the widow, and her son. Before this encounter, they were doomed to starvation; afterward, they had abundant flour and oil. Who benefits when a donor gives to your ministry? You do because you have resources to fulfill your mission. But the major beneficiary of the gift is the giver. Paul taught, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account” (Phil. 4:17).

Asking Teaches the Asker to Trust God

Fundraisers tend to rate donors on external indicators, but generosity is not necessarily connected to a person’s net worth. Some wealthy Christians are paupers when it comes to giving. Look for donors who are “rich in faith” (James 2:5). The widow gave more with her two mites than all the gold of the Pharisees combined because she gave all she had (see Luke 21:1–3).

Asking Establishes Long-Term Relationships

Direct mail creates distance between the asker and giver. Personal solicitation bridges the gap. Some are afraid to ask for money for fear it will strain relationships but asking for a gift can establish relationships which will last for eternity. Imagine Elijah, the widow, and her son fellowshipping around the table as they rejoiced in God’s amazing provision. Asking is ministry. Cultivate personal relationships with your major donors.

Think About This:
Praise the Lord for those with faith to ask boldly and for those who give generously when asked.

Lord, give me boldness to ask even in tough economic times.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored three books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising, Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving, and Keep on Asking – Bold, Spirit-Led Fundraising. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for  Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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