I was at a service tonight in which the emphasis was on generosity and stewardship. Sounds boring, right? Well, this one wasn’t!
In the course of the service, the speaker (Presiding Bishop Steve Jones–the top financial officer of our denomination) was sharing about some programs we’ve had called “Designated Giving Initiatives.” The last one was to help purchase and renovate a building for youth work in Chattanooga, Tennessee–in an area that is poor and dangerous. That building will be dedicated this November.
What I didn’t know–and what Steve shared–was some of the background as to why the Chattanooga Kids initiative was chosen!
The focus before them was on raising money to put roofs on churches in Africa. The church’s policy has been that if the African congregations could raise the money and materials to build the church building, the denomination would help with the roofs. One of the letters that came in–with enough money to put the roof on one building–started out “Being poor sucks!” It was from the Chattanooga Kids–and these kids in a poor and dangerous area, meeting in a building whose roof leaked, still wanted to help put a roof on a building for kids in Africa. Some of them had gone without lunches, and they had given up their movie and pizza money for the month (for some of the church activities) so they could give.
Are they poor? I don’t think so.
Maybe they don’t have a lot of what society says they should have–or even what I would think of as basic needs. But I think they are rich! They understand what it means to be loved by God so much that they are willing to give everything in order to share that with others.
Yes, being poor sucks–but the worst poverty isn’t being without “things.”