It was the winter of 1959-60. It was the next to last Sunday in Epiphany, and I was preaching a mission sermon. My illustration was from the Christian Advocate. Bishop
Paul Garber had just returned from a visit to Europe that included a stay in Poland. The Cold War was at its height and the conditions in Poland were dreadful, especially for the Christians. Bishop Garber wrote of the courage of the Polish Methodist pastors and made a plea for North Carolina Methodists to support them by giving gifts to purchase a bicycle for each of them to make it easier for them to serve their parishes. The cost of each bicycle was $75.
I decided that I’d make an appeal to the two congregations I served for this cause. I challenged each member to give $1 to help our brothers in Poland. Our folks were not wealthy. The Macedonia Church had 35 members and on that winter day, 18 were present.
As the offering plate was passed for the mission offering, the usher paused at the pew where a recent widow sat. She had a very small farm. He had had no insurance. But as the entire congregation watched, she took a linen handkerchief out of her purse and began to untie the knots that held her treasure. After what seemed to be an extremely long time, she took two shiny silver dollars and placed them in the offering plate. There was not a dry eye in the congregation. We had witnessed the giving of “the widow’s treasure.”
Later, I asked her if she could really afford that gift considering her circumstances. She said, “When you were speaking, I felt as if God was saying to me, ‘Now is the time for you to do your best for me,’ and I knew that was what my dear husband would do. I could never take that money back. I have given my best to Jesus.”
Our two small congregations raised $130 to send to Bishop Garber for bicycles for the Polish pastors.