My name is Toni Horton and I’ve been blessed from birth. Honestly, I’ve been an Adventist all my life. I was raised, mostly in St. Louis, by Christian, God-fearing parents. I graduated from Oakwood Academy then I came back and finished at the University of Missouri St. Louis. I fell in love, got married, and had a wonderful daughter who has blessed us with a fabulous granddaughter.
My mom passed away while I was in academy, and after that one of the roles my dad held besides pastor was serving as the stewardship director for Central States Conference. Being a daddy’s girl, when I had opportunity I would travel around to the different churches and listen to his stewardship lessons. I would hear the stories and see how he lived his life. I’m a testimony to the promise in the Bible to raise the child up in the way they should go and even if they drift far off, the principles in their minds would bring them back. I’m so glad I was able to come back while my dad was still living because he was so faithful in every way.
Around the year 2000, I became active in church as an adult in the Agape Seventh-day Adventist Church here in University City, Missouri, where I live. And that church has been wonderful to me. I love those folks and they have loved me back all these years. And they’ve loved my family through the years so I’m very happy to be here. Agape is a smaller church family and if you’re not there, they miss you.
I presently serve as the head elder and the assistant treasurer under our esteemed Elder Ben Steele, who is a force to be reckoned with as far as treasurers. He’s top shelf and he’s training me a lot in that regard.
We’re in a good direction on budget and finance with Pastor Keith Hackle’s leadership, and you know that’s something that’s needed in all our churches. It really is. God gave us the direction within His word, the key importance of faithful stewardship; and that just does not relate to our personal return of tithes and offerings—our personal consideration of time and talents and treasure and temple—but it also relates to how we operate and lead and guide His church.
Faithful stewardship is holistic.
When I started living my life as an adult, I learned quickly that whatever stations in life are attained, and whatever assets are accumulated, they easily can go. Whatever job position I had, I could lose it. And I lost a job at one juncture. It was devastating. Yet during the period that I wasn’t working, I never missed a bill. The lights stayed on, plenty of food, still able to do all that I needed to do. People would tell me, “I didn’t know you’d lost your job.” Then He blessed me with an even better position.
My commitment to stewardship helps grow my relationship with God because I recognize that He is the author of blessings in absolutely everything, including jobs and knowledge and life experiences. Giving to God provides your heart an opportunity to open up and start processing life in a spiritual manner versus a carnal manner.
And I’m learning more and more that my faithfulness covers not just me, it also covers my loved ones—even those who may not be faithful. When God brings out benefits, it’s hitting all around me even to those who have not come to the place in relationship with Christ that they should. That’s beautiful, and a big encouragement to parents and grandparents about the long reaching impact of the power of praying parents.
It hasn’t always been blessings, blessings, blessings. I’ve had my struggles and losses. But it’s all to shape us and transform us into obedience and love–not obedience to check the box, not obedience to try to get the tasks accomplished, but obedience to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to what God is doing for us each and every day and to get in a place of appreciation and love.
Toni Horton is assistant treasurer and head elder at the Agape Seventh-day Adventist Church in Missouri.