A few years ago, Waitara Seventh-day Adventist Church in New South Wales, Australia, discussed how they could make 13th-Sabbath offerings more special. In Seventh-day Adventist congregations around the world, a percentage of offerings gathered at the end of each quarter are directed to preapproved special projects in a specific region. Local church leaders were looking for ways to encourage church members to put money aside for the offerings each week instead of relying on whatever was available in pockets and purses on the day.
“I thought this was a great idea,” says church member Marilene Stevenson. “I remember that people used to do all kinds of things to raise money for 13th Sabbath, from baking cakes to growing veggies and then selling them to others. I wondered if I could do something similar.”
At that stage, Marilene didn’t have the time — or inclination — to bake cakes and grow vegetables. However, she had started using a particular product — olive leaf throat spray — that she found helpful and had been recommending to others. When other people expressed interest in this product, Marilene came up with the idea of buying the item wholesale and selling it to the interested parties. Any profit that was made would then go directly toward her 13th-Sabbath offering.
Marilene also visited the flower markets regularly and began making floral arrangements for special occasions such as Mother’s Day. Again, she offered these arrangements for sale and put the money toward her offering.
This spurred Marilene to continue looking for other ways to raise money.
“It really began with me buying stuff that I wanted,” laughs Marilene. “But it turns out that the things that I like to buy are the things that other people want to buy too — they just don’t have the time to go and buy them!”
Working with local farms and factories, Marilene is able to purchase healthy products at wholesale cost and sell them to family and friends at a cheaper rate than retail. This includes buying boxes of exotic fruits, fresh tofu, and specialty vegan items.
“It gives me a real buzz,” says Marilene. “I’m helping the people who I am selling to and, at the same time, raising money for a good cause.”
Since she began fundraising, Marilene has managed to raise hundreds of dollars for the 13th Sabbath offering each quarter.
Due to churches being closed during COVID-19, church offerings, in general, are lower this year in comparison to previous years.
“But it’s so important for us to keep giving,” Marilene adds. “Everything we own really belongs to God. He can multiply our meager offerings. He just wants us to give freely.”
She encourages all church members to continue to give offerings, even if it means fundraising to do so.
“When I first started, I wondered what I could do and whether I could actually make much of a difference,” says Marilene. “I’m not a salesperson by any means. But God has blessed and opened up opportunities that I would never have thought of. Just start and do something, and God will do the rest.”