Donors Who Grab the Rope

“Ebed-Melek the Cushite said to Jeremiah, ‘Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes.’ Jeremiah did so, and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern.” (Jeremiah 38:12-13)

Nebuchadnezzar was knocking on Jerusalem’s door. Jeremiah warned those who stayed in the city would die; those who escaped would live. Even though he was speaking God’s truth, the city officials accused him of discouraging everyone, “This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin” (Jer. 38:4). The officials complained to King Zedekiah, so he turned Jeremiah over to them and they threw him into a cistern. Imagine how desperate Jeremiah felt as he sank into the mud. We can learn five lessons from his dire situation.

When You’re Stuck in the Mud…
Do you feel like Jeremiah? He spoke truth, but no one wanted to listen. Perhaps your ministry has taken an unpopular stand. Maybe the media has caught wind of the story and amplified the situation. No matter how much you try to explain your side of the story, public opinion says, “you are not seeking good, but ruin.” Consequently, you’re stuck with few options.

You Need a Friend…
Thankfully, Jeremiah had a friend who cared. Ebed-Melek was also a city official, but he was convinced Jeremiah was speaking the truth. He pleaded to King Zedekiah, “he will starve to death” (Jer. 38:9). You need people to speak on your behalf when you don’t have a voice. Stand your ground. Be faithful to your mission. Your donors will notice and respond.

To Recruit His Friends…
King Zed gave Ebed-Melek permission to round up thirty-one friends and rescue Jeremiah. Here’s an interesting fundraising application. You might be so deep in the mud just one donor can’t solve your problem. Fundraising is a team sport. Motivated donors ask their friends to partner with them on projects close to their hearts.

To Pull You Out…
Ebed-Melek and his friends grabbed some ropes and old rags, went to the cistern, and pulled Jeremiah up out of the mud. As Chase and Michelle raised missionary support, they challenged individuals to “hold the rope as we go over the cliff!” You need some key donors on the other end of the rope pulling for you.
And Restore Your Voice.
Jeremiah’s cistern experience didn’t silence him. Interestingly, the first person to seek his counsel was King Zedekiah himself. Jeremiah was skeptical the king would listen, but he spoke truth anyway. If the king obeyed God, things would go well for him; if he disobeyed, he would be the one sinking in mud. (Jer. 38:20-23). Learn from Jeremiah’s courage. Always speak God’s truth—no matter the cost.
Think About This: When the Babylonians breeched the wall, they seized the city officials who had thrown Jeremiah in the cistern, but God enabled Ebed-Melek to escape (Jer. 39:18). You never forget those who helped you when the chips were down. Neither does God (Heb. 6:10)!

Response: Father, I’m discouraged about our current situation. Please give me courage to speak truth and faith to trust your plan. Please prompt some generous donors to throw us a rope!

Have a Spirit-led Fundraising Week!

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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