I’m delighted to introduce you to Laura and Robert Abernathy, long-time partners with Haggai International. The Abernathys both have loved Jesus since preschool, and met in high school. I sat down with Laura to discuss how Jesus shaped their life, how they came to support Haggai, their spirit of generosity, and more. — Dr. Bev Upton Williams, CEO, Haggai International
Bev: How has following Jesus shaped your life?
Laura: Being a follower of Jesus has shaped every life decision we have made. We learned early to pray about decisions, whether large or small. It might be about where our children attend college, for our little grandchildren’s relationship with Jesus, or a job move to the other side of the world. We are always left with a feeling of peace in our life.
B: Do you remember the first time in your life when God called you to be generous?
L: As a little girl, I always had a heart for missions and missionaries. Every year, I collected pennies in the hope of having a penny for each missionary in our denomination. That was an ambitious goal for a little girl, as our denomination had over 2,000 missionaries! (You can do the math!) But I always had great pleasure in bringing that sack of pennies to church for our foreign mission offering.
Today, I credit our generosity to Robert. He kept us faithful in giving in our early married years when there was too much of the month left at the end of the money. That set a life-long pattern for giving.
B: When did you first hear about Haggai International? What drew your heart to this ministry?
L: Robert and I had the pleasure of attending church with Dr. and Mrs. Haggai about 25 years ago. We got to hear Dr. Haggai preach, talk with him one on one, and even be in Sunday School with both of them. What a revelation to hear how missions — the important task of reaching people for Christ — could be done quicker, more efficiently, and cheaper! We knew that his God-inspired mission model was capable of reaching the entire world with the Gospel of Christ.
B: What excites you?
L: We both get excited about big ideas, ideas that can change the world. We feel that Haggai International is a big idea that can change the world — change the world for Christ one leader at a time.
B: What would you say has been the most rewarding experience for you with Haggai?
L: The most rewarding experience of being associated with Haggai International is knowing that each Haggai leader is impacting the world in their own country, a country where you and I cannot possibly go, and in ways that change the world. Not only are they reaching people for Christ, but they are also touching lives in the areas of poverty and health, social justice and equality, and emotional and spiritual well-being. Each leader knows his or her language and culture and that allows them to make an immediate, effective impact.
B: What are the things on your heart that you pray for?
L: One thing that I am praying about is Haggai International’s initiative in Mongolia to end Gospel poverty. Working with other Christian organizations, this is a model program that can be implemented in other countries of the world systematically to end Gospel poverty. Another big idea!
B: What is it that you want your grandchildren to know about the impact they can have in the world?
L: One day our four grandchildren will ask, “What did Papa and Granma do to make a difference in the world?” I hope that they will have seen and heard of our love and concern for all people: people around the corner and around the globe. I pray that they will pick up the challenge of ending Gospel poverty. We truly believe that Gospel poverty, although it may not be ended in our lifetime, can be ended in our grandchildren’s lifetime.