With evolving technology, we have the world at our fingertips. All things “on demand” are introduced to our youngest generation and almost anything imaginable is available with ease of access or purchase. Craigslist and eBay, popular sites for self-posted advertisements, are prime examples of where we place value in today’s world. We buy—we sell—and repeat the cycle to obtain more. As much as I travel and the older I become, I find it is increasingly important to consider what we have, what we can give—and how valuable those things really are. I continue to be astonished at the openness and generosity of people: people who have seemingly little to give, who offer all that they have.
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 ESV
As most children look forward to birthday cake, presents, and a chance to be in the spotlight, Margaret wanted her 8th birthday to be about children who are homeless and hungry. Margaret’s mother, Ginger, planned a tailor-made fashion party. The kids wore costumes, put on make-up . . . did all the things little girls love to do. Margaret’s invitations specifically asked that in lieu of gifts, her guests bring money to be donated to Bethany Christian Services. “I knew I would probably get a few presents, but I would have done this no matter what,” says Margaret matter-of-factly. “I just really wanted to help.” Indeed, she helped! She brought a grand total of $84.82 straight to her local Bethany office. As the director recalls, Margaret’s gift remains “one of the biggest gifts Bethany has ever received!” Margaret was not interested in what she would get—she wanted to give. I agree with the director who shared this story with me. Bethany’s family of donors is full of faithful people who give much and sacrifice much, but Margaret gained what she did not have to begin with—and gave it all away.
Todd and Colleen Burghgraef desired to teach their children about biblical stewardship and help them develop a desire for giving. When the Burghgraefs learned about Bethany’s exclusively online gift catalog this past Christmas, they decided to do something different—as a family. Together, they selected six gifts that would impact six different families around the world. Todd and Colleen, and each one of their children—ages 3 to 12—chose gifts from their hearts after thinking of what others need. The Burghgraef’s six gifts funded a family with food for six months in Ethiopia, saved one child from slavery while providing another with education in Haiti (Bethany’s Restavec program), blessed a Guatemalan family with clean water for a year, and provided orphaned babies in Zambia with essential baby formula for one month. Todd says, “My family was introduced to different causes which helped my kids—even Colleen and I—to think beyond ourselves. It’s fulfilling and more purposeful to meet a physical need.” With this family activity, Todd and Colleen have impressed upon their children the importance of looking at God’s Kingdom as broader than where they are. They continue to pray for those who have been touched by their gifts.
The Burghgraef children were encouraged to think beyond themselves and to consider the needs of others. They gave from their hearts and continue to pray for the recipients of their gifts. Margaret realized what she already had . . . and what others do not. Sadly, Margaret’s insight is accurate—there are many children with great need. I am grateful for families like these who are willing to help, and who are teaching their children to have a spirit of generosity and a concern for others.