Feb 7, 2007

The gift of giving

If you haven't heard, Mike Cope's sister-in-law is going to be on Oprah on Friday with an amazing story. You won't want to miss it! Set your TiVo and tell your friends to watch. For more about this, check out Mike's Blog or The New York Times where she was featured in an article!

Chad and I have been convicted lately that Jesus repeatedly tells us throughout the Bible to take care of those in need around us and give to the poor. We have done this through tithing, but after some discussion and prayer, our small group decided to take it a step further. With Chad's leading, we set up a shared account with everyone who wanted to participate. People can contribute anonymously any amount they decide. After only a few months, we had collected several hundred dollars. Some give a regular amount every month and others just contribute when they can. The point is to set aside money collectively with the intention of using it only for those in need, and then be on the lookout for anyone who might need it. A few examples so far: we were able to help a struggling family by providing Christmas presents and groceries, we paid for someones car to be fixed, we've paid for meals for several people we have met on the street or the side of the road and medicine for one man's sick wife. We have already been amazed at the way God has multiplied the money in the account. There always seems to be enough, so we all just keep finding ways to share it. It's amazing!

This is my favorite story so far: Chad has the unique opportunity to be in people's homes through home health. He sees several patients a week in their home, many of whom live at the poverty level. Last week, he came home talking about an aging couple whom he has really grown to care about from Boston who have been down on their luck. The wife has been in the hospital and needing full time assistance, so the husband had to take off of work, and this has put them behind in their bills and rent. Chad happened to see several bills on their refrigerator and asked if they needed any help financially. The man (a tough Bostonian) almost broke down in tears. He explained that they were behind in the rent and their gas would be turned off next week, but it would be several weeks before he could go back to work. Chad consulted a couple of folks from our small group and we were able to use money from our fund to pay their bills and give them a good amount toward their rent so the landlord would let them stay. The couple was completely humbled and thankful, and wanted to know what they could do to show us their appreciation. Chad just told them that when they could, they should do something to help someone else who needed a hand. Yesterday, when Chad went back for his home health visit, the couple was so excited to tell him that they met a homeless man who needed a place to sleep for a few days, so they let him stay at their house for 3 nights and fed him. Then the husband went on to tell Chad that he wanted to start contributing to the fund we have set up, even if it's only $5 a month. Suddenly, WE were humbled and grateful!

The amazing thing about giving is that it blesses those who receive and those who give, and God is glorified again and again! Still it's easy for me in our consumer driven society to think I can't give because I have school loans and car loans, and my daughter needs new shoes, etc. There is always something else I think I need, but God is faithful. I am only beginning to know God as provider. Whatever we give seems to come back-- sometimes in an anonymous gift of money in a time of struggle, sometimes in gifts from friends, and sometimes in the wonder of witnessing someone with so much less give with such an open and willing heart!