Ask God for a Number.
“One year, our church had a great need and we prayed,” Phyllis says. “The Lord spoke to the two of us about the story of the woman with the alabaster jar. She was willing to give the Lord Jesus more than what she had. Before that, we had always given within our means.”
Steven explains the Loos’ prayer process: “We wanted to learn to hear from the Lord about how much to give, so we will both pray about it individually and wait on the Lord, then come back together to compare notes. We usually come up with the same number. God will lead us to a number. We do that a lot. If we come up with different numbers, we pick the higher number!”
The Loos have repeatedly seen God miraculously provide the amounts needed to fulfill the commitments they make by faith.
One time they were perplexed about how to meet their giving commitment for their church building fund. “But,” Phyllis says, “Steven got a generous year-end bonus. We tithed on that bonus. And guess how much remained after we tithed on it? The balance was exactly the amount we needed to fulfill our pledge before God.”
“We love it when He shows us that He knows exactly what He’s doing,” says Steven. “It was a miracle. He leads us, we step out in faith, and He provides.”
Run to the Sick.
Most of the Loos’ generosity is relational, not financial. “God started bringing people into our lives. He brings addicts, people who needed help. There’s a halfway house that take people to our church for worship. The Lord brought them to our doorstep and we wanted to care for them. So we got to know one and invited him to our cell group.”
The Loos’ cell group now includes a steady stream of recovering addicts. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always have a happy ending.
“Two of the addicts did die of overdoses,” explains Phyllis, “but we have success stories too. Our whole cell group cares for them. God places various people in our cell who are able to help find them jobs. The cell organizes healthy activities – walks, cycling, so they don’t go back to old friends. Different people in the group invite them to their homes for dinner during the week.”
A few cell members wasn’t initially sure about the addicts. “But,” Steven says, “they end up caring for them.” The Loos shared that Matthew 9:11-13 inspired them:
“When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
-- Matthew 9:11-13 NIV
Walk Into the Mess.
“There was a person who got into gambling and borrowed from loan sharks,” Phyllis recalls. “The debts escalated. A few of the cell members discussed how to help. You can’t just pay the loan sharks.”
Steven says, “Rather than saying, ‘I’ll save you,’ we had to get involved personally. He was borrowing from one loan shark to cover the debt of another.” That escalated to a point of no return. Steven looked to 1 John 3:17:
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”(NIV)
Instead of giving the money to this person to repay his debt, Steven accompanied him to each loan shark and renegotiated the debts before repaying.
“I bargained with them and said, ‘Well, he doesn’t have any more money now, so you can just kill him and then you have nothing. Or take back the principal sum with some interest and write off the debt.’ So they accepted the deal and we loaned him the money to pay it off without interest.”
Phyllis says, “Our cell group journeyed with him. He found a job and started repaying fortnightly and managed to repay the whole loan to the cell members in 3 years." It took time, but he paid consistently.
“He came as an unbeliever, a prebeliever,” says Phyllis. “He saw that people were willing to help him and he was then open to the Gospel, the good news. Today he is a member of our church. He and his wife are helping other people.”
“We have a lot of fun giving,” says Steven. “It’s an exciting way to live when you partner with God."