(Book begins with the Preface in the January 31 post.)
Please note: This chapter was written several years ago. Some of the activities we supported then have changed, but the principles of the illustration remain the same.
“You can do what I can’t do. I can do what you can’t do. Together we can do something beautiful for God.”
Here’s how the search for God’s place has played out in my life. I share it so you can see the process, not to goad you into any particular ministry or path. God has your own journey mapped out for you. Enjoy discovering it!
After asking God to show me my place on the global front, I again looked at my interests and passions. The underdog, those without hope. So my husband and I chose Haiti as the focus of our global giving and prayer, based solely on the fact that it is the poorest country in our hemisphere—a place filled with “underdogs.” By focusing on one place, I could feel I was making a difference, rather than scattering potshots across the globe.
We started by sponsoring a child in Haiti through Compassion International, one of several good sponsorship organizations. Our ongoing monthly support, not much more than a dollar a day, provides clothing, food and an education for our little boy Samuel. His letters encourage us to keep on, showing our gifts are providing hope. Recently, he excitedly told us that, with the extra money we sent him for Christmas, he bought a goat. If that doesn’t cause me to stop and think of all my abundance and to learn contentment, I don’t know what will.
When we were ready to expand our commitment, we decided to do a small part to meet the housing needs of families in Haiti. We decided to give a percentage of our mortgage costs every month to Habitat for Humanity in Haiti so a family can have a decent place to live. We didn’t make any grandiose commitment. Better to start small and stick with it, than start grand and be left with guilt when we didn’t follow through.
We started with one percent of our mortgage. Not much money, but a beginning. Each year we look to see if we can increase it by one percent. The last few years, the increase didn’t come. Our incomes were stagnant, our expenses greater. At first the guilt began to gnaw at me. Why was I being so selfish? When Satan uses guilt to make me want to throw up my hands and quit, I remind myself that God meets my needs so I can meet those of others as He sees fit. Our gift is not insignificant, and as God gives opportunity, I would love to see it grow. My dream is to someday “tithe” our mortgage. I trust God to bring that about in His timing.
It’s important for families in Haiti to become self-sufficient. While providing emergency relief to starving or malnourished people can save their lives, if their lives are going to improve, they need a way to make a living, like Samuel with his goats. Therefore, when we were ready to add another facet to our Haitian giving, we chose Heifer Project.
Heifer Project provides “seed animals” and training in their care to families around the world. The animals contribute to the family’s nutritional needs through milk, eggs or meat. They provide a livelihood as they breed and the family sells the surplus. And because participants are required to give the first female offspring of their animal to another needy family, the gift keeps giving. We earmark our small gift for Haiti.
Only $20 can provide a family with two flocks of geese or chicks or two trios of ducks. I like to imagine children like Samuel eating fresh eggs every day thanks to our monthly gift. Or maybe several months of our giving is combined to provide other families a goat like the one that excited Samuel so. Fresh milk! Whatever the animal, I know that gift means a Haitian family is receiving help to improve its standard of living.
Our Haitian choice has enabled us to quickly handle pleas for help. We usually discard those that don’t impact Haiti, not because they are unworthy, but because they are not within our focus. I refuse to let the pleading face of a needy child in India suck me in and unleash the guilt monster. I know where God has asked me to focus my efforts. I trust Him to call someone else in His body to begin to impact India. Of course, He’s calling many others to serve Haiti, too; I’m not foolish enough to believe this “pinkie toe” could do it alone.
Occasionally we will feel called by God to give to a ministry that’s not in Haiti. That’s great; God’s in charge, and I need to be open to His leading. But for the most part this focused giving has eliminated much giving based on guilt and manipulation.