Testimony of Retired Sgt. Major Ernest Jones
Written by Nae Foster
Sometimes, burdens can be a good thing. You may think that I am sounding crazy right now, but there is a blessing in the burden of sacrifice. Retired Sergeant Major Jones knows all too well about it, except, I would assume that to him, it’s no burden at all. To him it may just be like killing two birds with one stone. Keep reading and you will see why.
Sergeant Major Jones started out this interview reflecting on the book of 1 Kings chapter 17, where the woman was approached by the prophet Elijah, who told her to give him the last of her food, which she believed, would be the last meal before her and her son died of starvation. Though it was her last, not even her last, but her son’s last…she gave the food to the prophet anyway. As Mr. Jones was reflecting on the story, he asked, “would you give your last?” He was joking, right? No, he wasn’t, he very serious. He said, “the reason why she gave her last, why you would give your last, and why I would give my last, is because what I know about giving”.
Mr. Jones remembers growing up in the 1940’s during World War II, when America was rationing. They had to use war bond stamps to buy simple things, like books, shoes, clothes, sugar, and anything else you needed. You had to have a coupon. During that time the government was trying to control supply and demand, so the people had to be frugal with their spending and their needs. He recalls how that didn’t stop the neighbors from giving. He said they would share all that they had.
He also recalled a time back in the 70’s when the women stayed home to care for the children and house, not bringing in any income, only being giving money from their husbands to buy food. His wife was among those women. He reflects, “While the women attended church, one day the minister spoke to them about tithing. The minister asked the women, ‘would you rob God?’ “We don’t have any money”, one of the women responded. The next question asked was, ‘do your husbands give you any money? They said, ‘yes’. She said, ‘pay tithes on what he gives you, at least you will be paying tithes on what you have, rather than not pay anything’.” He didn’t say whether the other wives paid the tithes, but that his wife did.
“I remember years later”, Mr. Jones said, “God began to bless us somehow or another. She was paying the tithes and God began to bless us, how did it get there? I got a promotion. Yes, God allows us to get promotions when we pay our tithes.”
Now, he said a mouth full when he said that, because many people do not attribute getting a promotion to a recompense for paying tithe. In fact, Sgt. Major Jones said that a lot of people look for someone to walk up and put it in their hands.
It would be in 1990, when he retired from the army, that Mr. Jones had to endure a humbling experience. When he got out of the army his income was cut in half. He needed to make up for his income, but no one would hire him. He ended up having to cut grass to try and make ends meet. “Having had been a sergeant major in the army and now cutting grass, because no one would hire me”, he says, “but that’s where God wanted me”. When the guy had no more work for him to do, helping him cut grass, he ended up at the Department of Transportation (DOT), picking up cigarette butts and raking leaves, working under someone who used to work under him in the army. He recalled, “we had privates picking up cigarette butts”. That’s when it became apparent to him that he had to learn how to be humble. He said that God told him that he had to humble himself and be patient.
He was making less than $10,000 a year, working that job. He also started working for a church member’s son, cleaning office buildings, to get more income. After some time, the owners of the office buildings decided to break partnership and he was offered one of the buildings. Having gone through much humbling experiences, he didn’t let himself become fearful of not being able to care for his family. In fact, he accepted the office building, but told the owner to give all of the money that he made off it to the church and for the owner to use it as a tax write-off. He kept and worked the office building for 6 years and made no profit off of it. Monetary profit, that is, because clearly God continue to provide for his family with what they had. He said that within 10 years of working for DOT he had gotten over a $10,000 raise and not getting the proceeds from the office building didn’t hurt his family financially.
He attributes his blessings to being willing to sacrifice. He said, “I could have said, now we have another $500 to spend”, but instead, he gave it away, having sacrificed $36,000 to the church.
It is hard for many people to give up something, especially to make a sacrifice when they themselves are struggling to make ends meet, but unless you release, you will not receive. Making sacrifices is not only for the person who is receiving, but it is for you too. It may hurt at first, and it may be hard to do, but you will be amazed at the abundance that will be recompense back to you. It’s like Patti Labelle said, “no pain, no gain”.