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"you of little faith, why are you so afraid?"

BY SUMMER WILLIAMS

"You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:26)

If anything sums up my December every single year, it has to be this verse. For the past three years that I have been at CGM - working as a fundraiser - I sweat the entire last month from the 1st to the 31st, all day, every day. This month is one of the most important determinants of how our fundraising year will end. It undoubtedly affects how 2016 will look – how many children we will be able to serve, the number of teachers we can hire, the types of programs we will be able to offer.  

There is a lot weighing on what comes in during December, not only for the month, but the year in its entirety. It is stressful to say the least. 

This is when I begin to doubt and worry. In the midst of all this, I pray and petition on behalf of the children, families and co-workers that I love. “Dear Lord, please see my heart and my efforts and use this year and the coming year to work in the neighborhood. Please see fit to bless us with the proper finances to enter 2016 so that we may love others well for yet another year.”   I plead, wrestle, and bargain. “If you just get us through this year, I promise I will work harder in 2016 and give you all I have.”

I prayed for a very specific amount during the month of December. It was a lofty goal and one that has never been raised in the final 31 days of prior years. But I was hopeful in November. The last week of December rolled around and I watched the deposits daily, checked online donations and went in to the office to review what had come in. And we were nowhere even close to the goal I had originally established. This when I felt like I was watching the giant storm on the horizon, knowing that it would pummel my boat all while Jesus sleeps. Everything would be flipped upside down. 

Thankfully I have a calm and understanding boss that is always there to listen to my concerns. I would talk to Bryan and throughout all of this he remained extremely positive and affirmed my fundraising efforts of the past 12 months. I, however, was still anxious and not looking forward to reporting our final numbers.

And then the winds calmed.

And the Lord showed me that the fear was in vain. He showed me that my faith was little. He showed me that He was in control. He is for Common Ground Montgomery and the Washington Park neighborhood and wants to see disciples made, trauma healed, people loved well, and families restored. 

I boast on His behalf, and His behalf alone, when I say that we met our December goal. I sit here today humbled by God’s provision and your generosity. Like the disciples, I find myself asking over and over again what sort of man is this? The kind of man that handles all of the storms of life and tells them to be calm. The sort of man that is constantly reminding us of His love for us. 

So these are not simply donations that I am entering into the database but gifts that are helping to grow the kingdom, investments in to people's lives. These donations are constant reminders of his provision and your submission to his calling.  Thank you to each and every one of you that listened to His voice prompting you to donate. It is because of you that the kingdom grows daily. 

the lord provides

BY SUMMER WILLIAMS

As the grant writer and a fundraiser, I often find myself sitting in front of a blank screen thinking of what I could write for these blog posts. I've never experienced writer's block in the past so why now? I guess I always assume that people don't want to know what it was like getting the end of year mailing together or how long it took to write my most recent grant or how many envelopes with financial statements I stuffed today. And I'm fairly certain y'all will be thankful that I am NOT writing about any of that today.

However, wrapping up 2014 and going into 2015, I think I have a lot to write about. I have been a fundraiser for almost 15 years now. I have worked at an inner city nonprofit, United Way, and Piedmont Park Conservancy in Atlanta. They were all great organizations and it was an honor to help raise money for such worthy causes. In my experience, I have seen detailed and thoughtful fundraising plans and donor approaches laid out for million dollar campaigns. And many times they worked. The strategic planning paid off in the long run. There were no prayers or reliance on a higher power to meet the monetary goals of those organizations; just hard, solid facts of what would work.

But this is my first job with a ministry and I cannot begin to tell you the extraordinary things I have seen the Lord do at Common Ground Montgomery. I came in with my plans, spreadsheets, and a grant writing calender. I thought I was prepared to do my job and do it well. I learned quickly that we are fairly small with a limited number of staff, technology, and even office space. But as this past year has proved, none of that matters. The plans that God has for CGM and the people on the west side of Montgomery far surpasses our circumstances and my plans.

I am constantly in awe when the donations come in. It makes no sense! I have never seen anything like it.

Sometimes after a difficult month or unexpected expenses have occurred, I start to worry about if I have planned properly or if have enough grants submitted to hopefully make up for any shortcomings. Then a $10,000 check, or twenty $100 checks,  will come in the mail and as I'm rejoicing I am reminded of something spectacular. The Lord has gone before me and worked in the hearts of our donors. He has gone ahead of all my plans and has shown our donors that what we are doing here matters. He has not left us or abandoned us. His provision far exceeds mine and continually will.

So with all this being said, here I go in to 2015 with a new found reliance on the Lord. He is with us and desires to see His kingdom grow. This wouldn't be possible without you, our donors. I am so thankful that you listened when the Lord called you to give and I am beyond grateful that I get to directly witness the generosity of the God's people. The Lord has called you to help us with our mission in loving the Washington Park community. He has not forgotten this neighborhood and neither have you.