Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 12: What Do I Have To Give

Day 12
Theme: What do I have to Give
Passage: Mark 12:1-12; 41-44

The Widow's Offering
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,[j]worth only a fraction of a penny.[k]
43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

You may have come to this point of the story and are asking yourself “What can I do? I’m not rich. I’m not influential and know lots of people.”

You’re reading the stories of those who have left everything and gone to these places around the world to dedicate their lives for the poor. You read the charge from Artists and authors and your heart is in agreement but you just don’t know what you can give.

We read together 2 passages in Mark today; the first on the tenants. The second on the Widows Mite. You may be asking yourself where these are connected. We are the tenants. We have been entrusted with this land and are to share the Love of Jesus to everyone. We may not have much but we can give out of what we have been given.

Let’s look at 2 stories of those with little who like the Widow are giving of what they have.

Half of a Bologna Sandwich, by Brian Bertke, Back2Back US Staff
June 3, 2010
Since my first trip to Haiti in April, I have been thinking about a boy I met in the garbage dump.

This is the garbage dump community where we served.

A boy who lives in the dump, overlooking the community.
The organization that we are considering a partnership with, Jesus in Haiti has a feeding program in the dump, and it is often the only meal that the children there will receive for the day. The sad thing is, I don’t even remember this boy’s name. However, he has had such a profound impact on my life, in terms of what I am willing to sacrifice so that I might be able to serve others at a higher level.

When we first pulled into the dump, we were surrounded by people who were pushing their way towards our truck, jockeying for position so that they could be first in line to receive a meal. I must say that I can’t blame their urgency and their pushing and shoving. If I knew that the only food that I would receive that day was in our truck, I too would be pushing my way up front to receive my meal. When people are desperate to survive, they will resort to behavior that we might not otherwise condone.

When we got out of the truck, we waited to serve everyone their one bologna sandwich. We wanted the crowd to calm down and we also wanted to have a chance to meet some of the children and adults that we would serve. I ended up being with a group of young boys, judging from their size, they were probably seven to nine years old. We started an impromptu game of “soccer” using a rusty can as a ball. We weren’t really trying to score goals, but wanted to see who could keep control of the can the longest, seeing who had the better foot skill. I was at a great disadvantage; these boys were quick and aggressive, attributes that come in handy when you live in a dump.

When we finished our game, it was time to serve lunch. I felt bad for these boys, they were so thin, and some didn’t even have shoes as they walked on top of broken glass and rusty metal. As I watched one of the boys that I had met that morning, he was different than some of the older boys at the dump. He was still meek and kind. The harsh life that he was subjected to day after day had not yet changed this boy’s heart. I was truly impressed by him and his gentle nature.

Me with my friend

As he waited patiently for his sandwich, I felt a tremendous amount of compassion for him. I went over and carefully handed him one of my breakfast bars, not wanting to draw attention from the older boys. I didn’t want him to be put into any danger for having extra food; he quickly put the bar in his pocket as he gave me a quick hug and a smile.

When it was finally his turn to be served, I handed him his sandwich and that is when my life lesson happened. My new friend immediately took his sandwich, his only meal of the day, and ripped it in half, offering me the other half. I was stunned. How could someone who has nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, be so willing to share the very food that he needs to survive?

As much as I appreciated his offer, I couldn’t deny him his food. I gave my half back to him, letting him know how much I appreciated his offer. As I stood there with him, watching him eat, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with his kind gesture. Here I was, thinking that I was the one there to serve, and instead, he was serving me. Not by offering me just food for my stomach, but also food for my soul.

I have thought of that young boy a hundred times since I have been home. I feel God probing my heart, my mind, my willingness to share the possessions that I have. Possessions that are really God’s that He has graciously given me, but somehow, I have laid claim to them as my own. I can feel God asking me what I would have done if I was in that little boy’s situation. Would I have ripped my sandwich in half? Am I willing to sacrifice more and more of myself, my possessions, and my life for the sake of others? Do I love God enough to let go of the possessions that I am clutching onto in this world, so that He can fill me up with those things that matter in His world…love, peace, kindness, forgiveness and gentleness? 1

Cristina: A Picture of Servanthood, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff
July 12, 2010

Cristina caught me at an intense moment. I was frustrated and worn out by the needs of the people. Everyone needs something. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is looking to you to solve their problems. It was one of those days at the Rio where I felt like I had nothing more to give and yet people were still coming with their problems, financial crises, and needs. Needless to say I was frustrated and worn out. At this moment, Cristina caught my arm and pulled me aside. Cristina is a woman who lives in an impoverished community just outside the Rio area where Back2Back serves. She has several kids and you can tell by just looking at her that she does not have many resources available to her. (You can also tell by just looking at her that she has a very real relationship with Christ!) Cristina volunteers her time and talent helping to cook at the soup kitchen nearly every week.

“Hope,” Cristina said, “I just wanted to tell you that I have been looking through my things and my kids things and have put together several bags of clothing that we really don’t need. I was wondering if you could come by my house in your car and pick up the bags and take them to the people in Rio III.” (Rio III is a very impoverished community that was nearly wiped out during Hurricane Alex.)

Little was left of Rio III after flooding from Hurricane Alex
I was astonished! I looked at her and asked, “Are you sure? You don’t need these things?”

“No, Hope,” Cristina replied, “I know there are people that need these things more than I do.”

I gave her a hug and tried to keep back my tears. In my year of consistently serving in the Rio this is the first time I have seen anyone offer or desire to give away some of their own things to someone else. Poverty can be an ugly thing when it gets to the core of people and makes them believe that they always need more, can never have enough, and couldn’t possibly give anything away. I was so encouraged by Cristina’s heart to give freely of her own possessions to those who “needed it more than she did.” After a frustrating afternoon, this was like a cool drink to my soul! I’m praying blessings on Cristina as she blesses others. 2

These stories are showing us how easily those with little gave of what they had. Why then, for those of us who have so much, is it so hard? With great wealth comes great responsibility.

Wealthy? Not me, you might be saying. Well, let’s put it in these terms.
Do you own a car? A House? Then you are in the top 2% richest in the world. Do you have Shoes on your feet? Do your children have shoes? Do you have a telephone? How about a Cell phone? Do you have more than one in your household? Do you have an Ipod? An Iphone? Do you go see movies? Buy DVD’s? Do you buy coffee or Bottled Water?

All of these things are items that separate you from lowest populations in the world. For the Price of a Starbucks each week you can help! Instead of getting that Redbox Movie 2 or 3 times a week, or going to the theater to see the newest title, you could help a child.

It is so easy to tell ourselves that we do not have the ability to help, yet all the while we sip on our coffee, in our cars on the way to our Air conditioned houses.
What if you shut off the Cable? Or maybe just cut back on the Coffee? What if you brought sack lunches for a month instead of eating out while at work? Little things can add up to BIG things when you give and allow God to change your heart!

Let me leave you with one last story of how your simple acts can change the life of a child. This is an excerpt from a story written by Jessica Biondo, a Back2Back staffer in Mexico after a Christmas gift party for the children:

I will never forget one sweet little boy, Santiago, opening up his present of a huge dog stuffed animal and coloring books and markers, but the thing he was most excited about was the small tube of travel toothpaste. When he saw the toothpaste his eyes got wide and he gasped and he held it like it was a priceless treasure. The rest of the day he carried that tube with him where ever he went. This made me really sit back and think about how much I take things for granted, especially around Christmas, when there is an abundance of blessings everywhere I look.

What has God entrusted you with?

Do you thank God daily for your house, Car, Job etc..?

Ask God to show you ways in which you can trim your spending in order to give to those who need.

No comments: