by Frank Barton
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
My wife and I both came out of bad first marriages. I was a Catholic, and she was in the Assembly of God. We both had had unpleasant experiences with churches. We didn’t know where to turn, but we decided to try to find Bible truth and not just accept whatever somebody was preaching.
When we got married and started thinking about attending a church, my wife said to me, “Would you mind returning tithe on my paycheck? You can do what you want with yours.” I told her that we had made a commitment to serve the Lord in our marriage, so even though I didn’t have enough money to pay the past month’s rent, we were going to tithe on both of our salaries.
The Lord soon led us to the AdventistChurch. He has blessed us for our commitment to follow Bible truth and to use the opportunities that He places before all of us to have a part of His ministry through our tithe, offerings, and time.
On many occasions we were thrilled to hear of opportunities and needs in other parts of the world to advance the Lord’s work. We felt impressed to give money without calculating the consequences on our own lives. But it seemed that no matter how much we committed to these various projects, we were never without our own needs being met.
Even though we were starting a new life in middle age with five children to support, no home, and many bills, the Lord continued to bless us so much that in twelve years we were able to buy ten acres, a home, and vehicles, and to have them all paid off. I was able to retire at 55 and volunteer full time to building a prison-ministry program in the Florida Conference. In eleven years the Lord has made it grow to 500 volunteers working throughout the conference and affecting about 80 institutions.
In 23 years of marriage, we have never missed paying a bill on time. The Lord has continued to bless us to such an extent that we have lived completely debt-free for about twelve years.
This story, about the experience of my friends Frank and Maxine Barton, was first printed in the 2000 edition of the book Over & Over Again! 2. Frank was the long-time coordinator of the successful Florida Prison Ministries. As active members of Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) they are firm believers in “sharing Christ in the market place.” The Bartons are presently members of the Paris, Tennessee Seventh-day Adventist Church. By Lin Powell, Stewardship Director