My name is Greg Boyko. I’m 47 years old. I was born in North Dakota, and spent my early childhood here, growing up in the Adventist church. When I was in the fourth grade my parents moved us to Southern California, where I graduated high school from Mesa Grande Academy in Calimesa, CA. I attended La Sierra University for two years and then transferred to Andrews University, where I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. While I was in college, my family had moved back to North Dakota so that my parents could be closer to their parents and family. After college, I moved to Fargo, ND, where I met my wife, Gretchen, and we have resided here ever since.

My growth as a Christian has had many seasons, and I’m still growing. I was baptized at age 18, but I came to truly know and understand Jesus and His love for me at age 23, when I had a “born again” experience while reading through the New Testament (particularly the Gospels) one night into the wee hours of the morning, trying to figure out my own beliefs (rather than my parents’ or church’s beliefs). Since then, I have been an active member of the Fargo Seventh-day Adventist Church, where I am today.

My parents were by far the most influential people in my life regarding decisions related to tithes and offerings. Particularly my mother. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I can still remember the emphasis Mom placed on returning tithes each month, and how both she and Dad would make sure we kids would always have a dime or a quarter to put in the offering plate on Sabbath morning.

Giving was always just a part of our lives growing up. I have taken these childhood lessons, expanded on them in adulthood, and have made giving and stewardship a part of who I am.

Stewardship has become an important part of my holistic view of Christianity. God has placed us on this earth for a few short years and has given each of us a few resources to manage while we are here. But in the grand scheme of eternity and of a God who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”, our meager time and resources here on earth are meaningless if we’re not fully devoted to God. God has given us the blessing of giving to help keep us humble and unselfish. It’s like an inoculation against selfishness and pride. The act of giving has helped me learn to place God first. And in doing so, my relationship with Him is more rewarding and more fulfilling, and I in turn experience the blessings that come from blessing others.

The Bible story about giving that comes to mind first for me is that of the rich young ruler found in Mark 10. What I take from that story is not that God requires all of us to sell all our possessions and give everything to the poor. Rather, God requires us to place Him first. There can’t be anything in our lives more important than Him. But the good news is that there is nothing more important to God than us. He will never fail to provide for us and take care of us. And He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us to live with Him forever.

Jesus said “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:29-31).

We give because God asks us to follow Him completely. He wants to be our Immanuel—God with us—forever. We depend on God wholly, and He provides for us and blesses us, in this age—even with our present persecutions—and in the age to come.

Greg Boyko is an active member of the Fargo Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Dakota.