And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 4.19
Perhaps when I baptized so many thousands of people I was hoping for as much as a ha'penny from any of them? Tell me and I will return it to them. Or when the Lord, through my very ordinary person, ordained clergy everywhere and I assigned this ministry to each of them free of charge - if I asked for so much as the price of my shoe, speak out against me and I will return it to you.
- Patrick, Confession (British, 5th century)
In Patrick's later years jealous British bishops - who had declined to support his mission to Ireland, and tried to keep him from going - summoned him back to Britain to answer certain spurious charges. Among these was that he was using his ministry to make a fortune for himself.
Some facts: Patrick went to Ireland over the protests of his family and church, with only the money he had inherited from his father. He managed somehow to parlay that into the support of his early years in preparation and ministry. If he'd wanted to get rich in ministry he would have gone to Gaul, where priests and bishops luxuriated while their flocks languished. Ireland was hardly the prime spot for doing ministry, if, that is, one wanted to get rich.
Patrick gave money away to the poor. He used his resources to purchase people out of slavery. He returned extraneous or exorbitant gifts given to him by people grateful for his service. He maintained no permanent home and seems to have possessed no personal property.
And yet he never wanted for resources to do the Lord's work. "By the Lord's grace," he explained, he was able to do his ministry and to be so generous as well.
Patrick's Confession has never been disputed; his reputation for trusting in the Lord has been solid from the beginning. Patrick followed his calling from the Lord, believing that, whatever he needed at any time, the Lord would somehow provide it. And this seems to have been precisely what happened.
I am often asked how the ministry of The Fellowship of Ailbe is supported. My reply is always the same: It has pleased God to raise up a few friends who benefit from this ministry in one way or another, and who have felt led to share of their wealth to help support our needs. We do not have a "development officer." We do not troll foundations websites, write grants, or send out incessant pleas begging for money. We do not offer premiums to coax you into giving.
Paul believed that ministries should be supported by those who benefit from them (cf. Rom. 15.26, 27; 1 Cor. 9.11). This principle has guided our own approach to achieving financial support from the beginning of our ministry, and we are very grateful to God for those friends who have responded to His leading and sent their gifts to help further our work.
"Ministry and money" is a touchy issue. Ministries need resources and people to do them, and this normally entails a certain amount of fiscal obligation. But ministry can be used to raise money in ways and for reasons that go beyond the needs of the work itself. Please pray that God would ever protect The Fellowship of Ailbe from any such questionable practices.
And pray as well that He will move more of those who find our ministry useful to help us in furthering this work through their prayers and gifts. Of course we need money to do the work of ministry. But we believe that our God will supply all our needs. He has thus far, and we are persuaded He will continue to do so, as long as this work is honoring to Him and useful for the progress of His Kingdom.
Your prayers are greatly appreciated and your gifts are always welcome. But only if the Lord prompts you to give out of gratitude to Him for some benefit you have gained through our labors.
If you cannot say, "Thanks be to Thee, O God, for The Fellowship of Ailbe," then don't entrust us with the Lord's financial resources.
T. M. Moore, Principal