ODJ: shea butter promises

December 26, 2013 

READ: Psalm 12:1-8 

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? (Proverbs 20:6).

Pastor Kofi has helped to plant 25 churches in Ghana and Burkina Faso, as well as a home for orphans and a school with 1,000 students. But he doesn’t have much money to manage all this.

So he welcomed an opportunity to provide a family member with shea butter for sale in America in exchange for a share of the profit. This versatile product of the shea tree has medicinal and cosmetic properties and is also used in cooking. Although common in Ghana, shea butter is hard to get in America and is in demand by West Africans living there.

At about the same time, a pastor of a large church in America promised Kofi’s ministry $1,000 (US). Understandably, Kofi anticipated a windfall for his churches and school. The days piled into weeks, which grew into months, but still no money came.

Then one day his family member in America called with an excuse about “unexpectedly low returns” on the sale of the shea butter. No money would be forthcoming. Nevertheless, he wanted to know if Kofi would package more shea butter and ship it. (He politely declined.)

And the pastor of the large church? Kofi never heard from him again.

Surprisingly, this Ghanaian pastor’s attitude remains upbeat. “By His grace, I know that God’s work will go forward,” he says, refusing to dwell on the broken promises.

“Help, O LORD,” wrote the psalmist. “The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbours lie to each other” (Psalm 12:1-2). But the refrain to the song rings out: “The LORD’s promises are pure . . . We know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation” (vv.6-7).

People will fail us in this life, but there’s a Promise Keeper we can always rely on. —Tim Gustafson

In the Sermon on the Mount, what does Jesus say about making promises? (Matthew 5:33-37). 
What motivates you to make promises? Why is it important for you to fulfil what you promise?