Shoe Leather and Cardboard Don’t Mix
Dr. Herb Ireland
Dr. Ireland is a 1969 alumnus of NTS (MDiv). Read more about the establishment of the Dr. Herb and Carolyn Ireland Scholarship of Distinction here.
It was a cold winter day as I sat in Dr. Willard Taylor’s class on the New Testament. My feet were especially cold because as I had walked through the snow the cardboard that I had stuffed inside my shoes to cover the holes began to disintegrate and allow the wetness to seep into my shoes. As I listened to his lecture and fought off cold feet, the Holy Spirit asked me a penetrating question: “Will you tithe 20% of your income to me?” I was stunned and shocked by the question. In my mind I answered, “What are you asking me to do? Can’t you see the financial situation we are in? We are so poor and why pick on me?” Yes, I knew the promise of God from Malachi 3:10: “Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams.” (Message Bible) However, in the financial shape my wife and I were in this seemed a long shot indeed.
After graduating from Pasadena Nazarene College, we owned two lowboy bookcases, a desk and our recent wedding gifts. These items were merged with another couple going to Nazarene Theological Seminary in an old truck they had purchased. Upon arrival in Kansas City the Living Lord led us to rent a furnished house that most importantly had a garden. It was from this garden that we were able to harvest food as our finances were very low. My wife, Carolyn, worked in the youth department and her first paycheck did not come until she had worked for two weeks. It was in this context that the Divine Questioner asked, “Will you tithe 20% of your income to me?” I must admit that my wife of less than a year took many steps of faith to join me in answering, “Yes, we will tithe 20% of our income to you.”
As we ministered in four churches during 35 years, we witnessed again and again God’s provisions for our needs. Upon graduation we were invited to pastor the Hillview Church of the Nazarene in Boise, Idaho. I remember so vividly the day we received a letter from the district superintendent and the offer to come and be their pastor for $70.00 a week and an additional $5 a week if we would do the janitoring. But the greatest blessing was that the present pastor was moving to Kansas City to attend NTS and they left all the furnishing in the parsonage, including curtains. It did not take us long to accept this pastoral call and rejoice in God’s care and provision for our needs. These years of double tithing included careful budgeting, not buying many of the items others were purchasing and carefully saving for putting our two children through Nazarene college. From today’s perspective I must admit that our positive answer to the startling question was pregnant with divine blessing upon blessing.
When my mother died in 2018 and went to be with Jesus her estate was divided between my sister and me. After reflection Carolyn and I agreed that we would tithe 20% of the money we received. We gave some of this money to worthy Christian ministries, but the majority of it went to support an endowed scholarship for students attending NTS. The only way I was able to attend seminary was because of the Broadhurst scholarship and now we want to enable others to do the same.
A very important part of my ministerial training was formed on the campus of NTS. Yes, it was intellectually stimulating to have professors like Ralph Earle, Richard Taylor, and Willard Taylor, but it was the sharing and camaraderie with fellow students that helped me so much.
My dream is that we can invite today’s prospective seminary students to move to Kansas City and enjoy the same benefits I and others had because of scholarships. Here is a breakdown of Endowed Scholarships.
My challenge to fellow pastors and their parishioners, and friends of NTS: Let’s band together and raise one million dollars to endow present and future students to move to Kansas City and attend seminary with many receiving scholarships. This will enable them to graduate without a crushing debt load added on to their college expenses.
Yes, shoe leather and cardboard don’t mix, but faith in the Living Lord does pay great dividends to those who take the challenge to give sacrificially to His work.
Class of 1969