This graduating class is made up of the 19th & 20th classes we've held at Mercy University (MU), and we're so glad to see it's our biggest class to date with 26 graduates! That leaves us with 45 graduates for 2018 who are moving forward in life, impacting the community around them in a positive way! One of those graduates, an employee of the Vidalia Police Department, Josh Keener, said he wanted to share how the class had impacted his life.
"I'm very grateful for this class. My life has been kind of off and on, as far as finances are concerned," said Keener. "We get the opportunity to know how to make money, but we don't always get to understand how it works for us. What I've learned from this class is that there are faith-based principles that we can take into every aspect of our life. They teach us how to save, and in turn it allows God to be able to use us to help other people in our community .... I believe God has called us all to be human assets, as opposed to being just a financial or physical asset."
Faith & Finances (F&F) and Work Life (WL) are the two classes taught at MU. MU is the developmental piece of The Mercy Ministries (TMM) because we believe people cannot truly move forward in life until they understand their God-given identity, live up to that identity by working (if physically able), and know how to manage their finances. The F&F classes join together God + Finances in a way that simply works for its participants.
Thursday, September 27 the F&F graduates had an opportunity to be celebrated at the Tattnall Auditorium at Southeastern Technical College (STC) in Vidalia, Ga. Family, friends, TMM volunteers and TMM staff showed up to cheer on their accomplishment and share a meal with them at Kountry Kafe of Vidalia where a wonderful meal of pork chops, mashed potatoes, carrots, sweet tea, cake and donuts were provided by Mercy Board Member and Volunteer Dental Director, Dr. & Ronald O. Mosley, DMD and his sweet wife, Linda Mosley.
Judge Sherri McDonald, Secretary of TMM Board, began the ceremony at STC by welcoming everyone and introducing TMM's Director of the last two years, Carly Benton.
"There are various social determinates that can hold us back from financial security and health," said Benton. "Sometimes a person is living in poverty and a bad neighborhood with few advancement opportunities. Or, sometimes a person is young and in the middle to upper class ... buried in debt because they think they should have everything their parents worked thirty years to obtain. And, whether you belong in one of these groups or somewhere in between, you need to know that at the root of all of it is money. We at TMM believe God wants us healthy not just physically, but financially, as well!," Benton then shared Malachi 3:6-12...
"6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change [but remain faithful to My covenant with you]; that is why you, O sons of Jacob, have not come to an end.
7 “Yet from the days of your fathers you have turned away from My statutes and ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’You Have Robbed God
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings [you have withheld].
9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, this whole nation!
10 Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the [c]storehouse, so that there may be [d]food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing until there is no more room to receive it.
11 Then I will rebuke the [e]devourer (insects, plague) for your sake and he will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field drop its grapes [before harvest],” says the Lord of hosts.
12 “All nations shall call you happy and blessed, for you shall be a land of delight,” says the Lord of hosts.
"Now, I don't want to take this out of context," Benton continued, "because even though we may be implementing Biblical principles in our finances, it doesn't mean that we're going to get rich one day. However, the Lord does promise to take care of us when we follow Him and steward our money the way He would have us to do. And, this class is all about that. God even says, 'Test me in this!' And, so to our graduates and you all, I want to challenge you: Test God in this! Implement these principles you've learned, stick with the plan, and see how He blesses your efforts."
Benton then played a VIDEO for everyone, giving a glimpse into the heart of the Chalmer's Institute and the F&F program.
Following the video, Clint Hutcheson, Director of MU, took the stage to recognize MU's Advisory Committee members, Johan Reister and Valerie Noles. "These last two classes were basically their brain child," said Hutcheson. "They said 'let's do a couples class!' and they have done really well working to make this semester a huge success. I also want to thank everyone who volunteered meals. The F&F class has had sixteen individuals donate meals for our class participants this semester and we are very thankful for that. I also thank Jessica Thursby, TMM's Volunteer Coordinator, for making that possible.
As many of you know we meet two hours once a week for two weeks. During that time we fellowship, eat together, play together, we laugh, we discuss some imortant things in life, we grow together, and we build a community. It's so important that we build those relationships and determine what God's principles are and how to steward our money correctly. As we walk through these things together, we grow as a group, and we talk about our attitudes and our values, our challenges. As times goes on we learn how to listen to one another, how to give joyfully, and more. We were blessed this class to have Altamaha Bank & Trust come in and teach us the importance of good banking. We also covered how to prepare for emergencies and how to set up a savings account," Hutcheson concluded.
At that time Hutcheson introduced and thanked Reister, who also teaches the evening F&F class. Together, they presented each graduate with a F&F Certificate of Completion.
The evening was closed in prayer, food and fellowship. And, again, we can't thank all of you Mercy supporters enough for helping us move 45 graduates through this year!
(See pic slideshow below to see the happy graduates in attendance)