Knowing that I am actively involved in several charitable projects here in India,an acquaintance introduced me to some of his friends from the business community at a party we all attended. They happened to be discussing The Giving Pledge, an initiative headed by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Those three had challenged 400 American billionaires to commit to donating at least 50% of their net worth to charity and social causes in their lifetimes.
A few months ago I quoted Philip Yancey saying, in so many words, that Christians don’t have the option of ignoring problems, especially when it is within their power to improve things. Christians are called to make the world a better place.
Fulfilling that obligation is seldom easy or painless, and one thing that often holds us back is our own financial situation. We have only so much money, and it only goes so far. Altruistic intentions come up against all-too-real constraints. We hurt for others, but must we sacrifice to our own hurt? If we did, how far would it go and how long could we keep it up? I think you’ll find some interesting, inspiring, and innovative answers in this month’s articles.
It was nearly midnight and I was brushing my teeth, already half asleep, when I heard him. He was shouting and mumbling at the same time. Probably a drunk calling to his drinking buddy, I decided.
Half an hour later, I could still hear the man shouting, though I couldn’t make out anything he was saying. Enough was enough! I decided to call the police.
As I passed a window, I saw that the man was standing under a streetlight. He was older than I had imagined, bare-chested in the cold, and yelling right in my direction.
I’ve known Alex for four years. He is 24 years old, has cerebral palsy, and is one of our Women’s Club food delivery recipients. Each time I deliver food, we spend an hour or so talking. “If you could go anywhere in the world,” I asked him several times, “where would you go?” His answer was always the same: St. Petersburg, Russia.
Last year he graduated from university with honors. For his extraordinary achievement he received plane tickets for two to St. Petersburg—a gift from a family that had heard about him through the food delivery program.
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
The first time I read these words, I remember thinking they didn’t make sense. That was going to change.
My mom and I had gotten on a bus, and as we walked down the aisle looking for two empty seats together, I noticed a young mother with a toddler and a baby. The toddler was obviously bored, and his mother was struggling to keep him seated while also trying to make her baby more comfortable.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite [temple assistant], when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.
A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1843, has been retold in numerous versions and forms. A timeless story, it is much more than an account of a mean, miserable old man—Scrooge—who changes his ways after a Christmas Eve visitation by three spirits. It is a reminder that it is only when we give to others that we truly celebrate the spirit of Christmas. Giving may be material, like a beautifully wrapped present or a monetary gift to someone in need, but true giving is more than that; it extends to sharing ourselves.
When Christmas comes, I’m already reflecting on the past year, what I did or didn’t get done that I meant to or should have, and I’m already thinking about my goals for the next year, how I can aim higher or do better. That’s when the message of an old song comes back to me:
“Wait up!” a girl called out from behind me. It was a cold, rainy winter morning in Taiwan. As I turned around, a petite girl about my age ran up and said, “I thought all foreigners returned to their home countries at Christmas. You won’t find it the same here.”
“I know,” I replied, “but I am a volunteer worker here. I can’t afford to return home this Christmas. I do have friends here, though, so I will be okay. I also have Jesus, who is with me no matter where I am.”