No, I am not speaking of any of the current candidates for the presidency! (Although, in my humble opinion, there are one or two who qualify as old goats!)
It was my turn Thursday night to host our monthly dominoes club. There are eight of us, all from Lake Hills Baptist Church, who get together to chat, laugh, nibble on snacks and indulge in pizza and dessert, and yes, play “Mexican Train.” We call ourselves, tongue in cheek, The Dominoes Divas—but we are anything but divas! We’ve been doing this for fourteen years—since Robbie got sick back in 2001 and my friends wanted to bring some fun into my life during the time I was very house-bound and going through some heavy trials. Since then we have grown close and love one another; sharing the burdens and the joys and praying for one another. We look forward to getting together each month, although I must confess, I have much more fun when it’s at someone else’s house!
This time, though, it seemed like it was extra fun and loud—really, really loud! I’m not sure what made it a little more special this time, but I know what made me happy. “Let’s talk about what we want to do next month for our Christmas party,” someone suggested. “Are we doing little gifts for each other or…?”
“YES!” a unanimous chorus resounded in the space of a heartbeat.
We were excited! What should we get? How much did we want to give? Cheree ran out to her car to get the catalogs she just happened to have out there. When someone suggested we could get a goat—well, that was all it took! “I vote for the goat!” we all said in one accord—and all laughed like we were the most clever folks on earth.
We started collecting right then and there and discovered we had enough to get not only the goat but some baby chicks and blankets, too! Then we made another decision—we would make this our new Christmas tradition, and not only that—from now on, when we throw in our $5 for pizza each month, we’ll each throw in another dollar or two so that next year we can more than double what we did this year. How fun! And what a blessing—to us and, we pray, to someone else.
It is sobering when we think of what this little bit means in the life of a few very poor people somewhere in a very poor country. We take for granted a night of fun and games, plenty of food in a warm house—an easy life. For millions—no, billions—around the world there are no fun and games nights, no table heavily laden with food, or even a warm, secure, home. Children go to bed hungry and cold; they join their parents in trying to eke out a meager living in a hard land; they face a future that is as bleak as their present. Here is what Samaritan’s Purse has to say about these simple, inexpensive gifts and the difference they can make in a family’s life:
When we provide families with dairy animals, we give them a daily source of milk rich with protein, calcium, and vitamins that are especially important to growing children. As herds grow, they can be sold for income or given to neighbors in need. Most importantly, as our teams offer training and basic veterinary care, we build relationships so we can tell them how they can have eternal life in Jesus Christ. Your gift will enable us to provide a goat or other dairy animal to a family in need.
God’s compassions “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). So are fresh eggs, for families who raise chickens supplied by Samaritan’s Purse. Your gift of will provide 12 chicks or other poultry that will soon lay enough protein-rich eggs to feed a family, with enough left over to sell or trade at market.
It’s hard for us to even imagine what it’s like for children and families who have to sleep outside after a storm, earthquake, or other disaster. When it’s shivering cold and pitch dark, a snug blanket can help you get through the scariest night. A warm blanket is often an overlooked necessity for those suffering from war, disaster, or illness. Help wrap someone vulnerable—such as a sick child, an expectant mother, a disaster survivor, or a refugee—in a clean, durable blanket. This simple gift can serve as a tangible example of the Savior’s love that surrounds us every day.
Back in 2009, Bob was laid off from his job. It is very tempting when something like that happens to be fearful and worry how the bills would be paid and food put on the table. The very day, however, that we received the bad news, we received something else as well—our very first Samaritan’s Purse catalog. As I flipped through its pages, I knew immediately the Lord was speaking to me. I could hear Him clearly saying, “You see – you have so much compared to the rest of the world, Cindy! You have a warm roof over your head. You have food on your table – too much food. You have clean water. You have health care available to you. Even without a job now, you and Bob have help available to you and you will get through this. You have the love and support of family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You have My Word freely and abundantly available to you! And greatest gift of all – you are My child through the salvation freely given in Jesus Christ! Do you see how rich you are? Do you see how I have blessed you?”
What a comfort and blessing and reassurance those words were to me! And yet, as I looked through that catalog, as much as I wanted to give back through some of those items to others in true need, I could not see how we could do it just then with no job or income. I began to be under conviction, though, for the Lord had something more to say to me:
- Give to these who have nothing EVER. NOTHING day after day, for year after year. Give out of gratitude for all that you have even in your poorest moments.
- Give out of faith that I will provide your needs and even many of your wants for as long as it takes. Depend on Me – not job security.
- Give because you love Me and I have commanded you to give to those in need so that they may see My love in their lives, as well.
- Give beyond what you are giving now. Give and watch Me give back – watch with excitement and expectancy! You cannot out-give Me!
I wrote this six years ago, not looking for praise for ourselves, but as a praise to the Lord, and as a reminder to all of us to take the focus off our own problems and seeming “lacks,” and rather remember how truly blessed we are and that out of our abundance, we can surely give a little more.
I shared back then some of the Scriptures I found in that little catalog. This is just some of what God’s Word has to say about giving to the poor and needy:
- But you see the trouble and grief…The helpless put their trust in You. You defend the orphans. (Psalm 10:14)
- Help Him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy. (Psalm 72:4a)
- He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. (Psalm 72:12)
- or He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
- But You are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4a)
- He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
- Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1:27)
We will celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week and enjoy the abundance with which God has blessed us. I know we will be thankful as we count our blessings—as we ought to be each and every day throughout the year. Let it be a reminder, as well, that billions of souls out there in a dark, hurting world do not share in our abundance. They need to see the love of God through us. At this time of year when it seems the money just won’t stretch far enough, we can all find a way to dig a little deeper and give a little more. Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40) I love to give to Jesus, don’t you?
Give thanks…Give a goat…Give the Gospel…Just Give.
Check out the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog:
The Compassion International Gift Catalog