I began working for the federal government as an attorney in 1983. The Lord gave me that job. I just walked in off the street without any notice and without knowing anyone and asked for a job as an attorney. I still remember the laughter that went up around the room. I was told that all job offers had been extended and accepted and that no one has ever withdrawn once accepted. There was no job. Just as those words were spoken the phone rang where I was standing. The person at the desk said you are not going to believe this but someone just refused the job. I got the job. I learned then that the Lord provides for us. About a year later, Cheryl and I and our two children started attending Church of the Apostles. At the time, I wasn’t making a lot of money working in the government. We were giving a small amount in the offering most weeks. I intended to tithe but we weren’t setting aside money at the beginning of the month to tithe. Instead we were giving what we had leftover after the bills were paid. As a result, we found it very difficult to give generously because we had very little left over. I knew we weren’t giving 10 percent of our income but I really wasn’t keeping track. I was just placing money in the plate when we had it.
At that time we were meeting in Fairfax High School. Rather than mailing end-of-the-year contribution statements, the statements were handed out in the foyer of the high school. We all lined up at the head of the school to receive our donation statements. I remember vividly opening the envelope and peering at the statement and realizing that I hadn’t given an amount anywhere close to what I thought I had contributed. I had given less than 2 percent of my income to the church. The moment I saw the meager, little figure, I was mortified. I was humiliated. I was ashamed. I quickly put the envelope in my pocket and walked out. I thought every eye in the school was looking at me. Surely everyone must know that I had cheated and stolen from God and from His church. And this after God had supplied my income. I asked for forgiveness and resolved then and there to tithe.
Cheryl and I started budgeting our money. But it didn’t really help much. We weren’t spending money unnecessarily. Our giving did increase but we still weren’t giving 10 percent of our income. Frankly, it wasn’t until two or three years later when our income increased that we began to tithe. We continued tithing. Some years we even gave a little above 10 percent. While we were happy to be tithing, we were also satisfied and complacent in our giving and we were not exactly overjoyed when called upon to give even more. I didn’t know it but God wanted to change my heart. God wanted the dams in my life to be broken and rivers of living water to flow out.
The years went by. Then came January 10, 2012. On that day Judge Bellows ruled that we had to give to the Episcopal Church our property and any money we had as of the date we left the Episcopal Church. We lost our property. We lost our savings. And we had to pay very large legal bills. It was at that time that I must confess to you I committed a great sin. Knowing fully that we had a desperate need for money, I traveled to New York City that January. There I spent a small fortune to purchase early American furniture at two auction houses. I spent all the money I had in the bank and all the money I had in money market funds. I had no ready cash to help with the large debt that we faced together.
I sought God’s forgiveness and cleansing once again. As I went before the Lord, Jesus began doing a work in me. I was drawn closer to the Lord. I felt a much greater love for this church. I found that I was weeping before I went to sleep at night, and then again when I woke up. I can’t explain why. This went on for two or three weeks—every night and every day. My pillow was getting kind of wet. The Lord began placing on my heart to make a gift to Apostles to help cover the debt we now owed to the Episcopal Church.
I told Cheryl the amount I felt to give. She asked how we would be able to pay such an amount. I said we could rearrange our finances in a sacrificial way and make this work. No more words were spoken. A day or two later, driving home after the Sunday afternoon church service, Cheryl asked “Would you really give that sum of money to the Episcopal Church?” I said, “Yes.” She then said, “Alright, so be it.” When I handed that check over the floodgates in my spirit broke wide open and the pent up rivers of life began flowing out. I began experiencing a great love for all of you and the joy of the Lord filled my life. I got a taste of the glorious liberty of the children of God.
I believe that experience was preparing me for what the Lord wants to do now. Cheryl and I have been praying about the commitment what we should make during the Destined For Joy Campaign. All God is looking for is a willing heart. I don’t care about the building on Fairfax Boulevard that the Lord has placed before us. I care about you and the vision that God has given to us to establish His kingdom, His healing, His Joy and His Love in the Fairfax community. We want to bring a spiritual awakening to Fairfax though the creative arts. We want to turn lives upside down and let this community experience the glory of our God. To do this we need a base of operations in Fairfax.
The Lord is calling us to a sacrificial commitment to bring this to pass. Cheryl and I are going to rearrange our finances. Each of us should seek the Lord as to what He would have us do. I have investments in two mutual funds that have done well in recent years, which I intend to give. I am postponing my retirement for three years. Finally, and this is truly a work of God, I am willing to donate several pieces of early American furniture during the campaign. Beloved, the Bible tells us that the whole creation is groaning and travailing, waiting in eager anticipation for the manifestation of Christ’s life. I believe the fullness of time is upon us. Will you join me with willing hearts and great faith to make straight the crooked paths and prepare the way of the Lord in Fairfax?
-Bill Collins Destined for Joy Campaign Director