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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Challenge to a Tradition of MIne

I’d been raised in a Christian home, had gone to Bible school, been ordained to the ministry and with my wife had gone as a missionary to the West Indies. The church building which we used had been purchased by the mission board and the local congregation was only responsible for maintaining and insuring it. (Personally, I had never questioned the principle of insurance. I simply believed that it was good stewardship of God-given resources to have "adequate insurance coverage". I had life insurance, property insurance and auto liability insurance. I contributed to the government Social Insurance programs including the Canada Pension Plan and we paid a high premium to participate in our mission board’s health insurance plan.) It was during the summer of 1976, at the very first church business meeting which I chaired as a missionary pastor, that my thoughts on insurance were deeply challenged!
When the financial report was read, one of the church members, Clinton Dyer, stood to his feet and asked a question…. (This was to be the second question I’d encountered in my life which was entirely “outside the box” of my traditional thinking!) He asked, "Why are we, who claim to trust in the Lord, paying a worldly insurance company to protect the Lord's property?"
I, along with other North American missionaries, tried to explain how insurance was good stewardship of the Lord's property. (If a flood, hurricane, or fire destroyed the building, the insurance would enable us to rebuild or replace it.) Many of the believers in the congregation were not satisfied with our explanation and a heated discussion ensued. But little light was shed by which to resolve the dispute. A visiting summer missionary commented to me after the meeting, "No one, on either side of the debate, appealed to scripture to support their position!" That keen observation reminded me of the principle that Professor Gundry (mentioned in the previous post) had taught me just a few years before!,
I knew the discussion would continue at our next mid-week meeting. I was also determined we would not have another "hot debate"! So when we met again I said to the believers, "Opinions are like noses everybody has one! But we need more than opinions to settle our disputes. We need scriptural principles. We know that the word "insurance" is not found in scripture. But there must be principles to guide us. So let us search scripture with our concordances for words and expressions which might bear on the subject."
We then brainstormed and compiled a list of words for which to look in scripture that might lead us to scriptural principles relative to the subject of insurance. Our list included the following: safety, security, stewardship, peace, protection, gold, silver, money, calamity, confidence, preservation etc. We purposed together not to discuss the matter further until we had searched scripture and found scriptural principles to guide us relative to the question of insurance.
At this time, I had no idea how Clinton Dyer’s simple question would soon get me into my first pot of “ministerial hot water” and eventually change the course of my life at a number of crucial points!
But the continuation of this account must wait for another post!

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