Tag Archive: Giving

New Year’s Dreams

Happy New Year! What hopes and dreams do you have for the year ahead?

One I suspect we all share is that Omicron deals with those who get it in a more gentle manner than have Covid-19 and Delta. We pray that this pandemic will come to an end this year. I look forward to not wearing a mask; to being less isolated and spending more time with family and friends (although we’ve been blessed to have some significant times together this year despite the pandemic). To going out to an evening of dinner, a movie, the theater, church, a party again with a sense of freedom.

Hondurans dealing with the aftermath of significant flooding and destruction of infrastructure

Beyond that hope, dreams become both corporate and individual. Do we want more–more profits, more stuff, better furniture, fancier cars, more of whatever makes us feel good about ourselves? These aren’t necessarily bad. But there are so many who have significantly less than we do here in America. And while there are enormous needs here, areas of deep poverty as well as those wracked by hurricanes, floods, and the seven tornadoes in Kentucky on New Years’ Day.

One way to address these needs is to give where we can. Organizations like World Vision (worldvision.org), Samaritans’ Purse (samaritanspurse.org), and MCC (Mennonite Central Committee, MCC.org) address needs for food, medicine, and education in poverty-stricken or hard-hit areas around the world. My brother, Arnold, has become involved with Living Water World Missions (livingwaterworldmissions.org), who focus on clean water, education, and relationships with Jesus. They say over one billion people lack clean water, and about 1.5 million children will die this year from preventable water-born illnesses.

According to the World Bank, the United States had a GNI (Gross National Income per capita) of $64,610 in 2020.

  • Bolivia has a per capita GNI of $3,200
  • Mexico, $18,170
  • Sub Saharan Africa, $3,005
  • And of the Sub Saharan nations, Burundi has a GNI of only $700. And that’s an average in each country, so we know there are people who have significantly greater, as well as significantly lesser, resources.

Many churches and organizations offer opportunities to go on short-term service projects to help build, serve those in need, and understand the significant needs faced by others. And we can pray for the many in other lands who suffer from hunger, persecution, dirty water, war, and tribal infighting.

Don leading a work crew at RSM with Geronimo

For ten years before Covid hit, Don traveled with a group to Rancho Santa Marta (ranchosantamarta.org) where he managed building projects, from a small medical/dental facility for visiting physicians and dentists, to part of a new gym used for their school of about 250 children, part of the high school addition to the school, and a home for the most severely disabled, older boys who live on the premises. I joined him nine of those ten years and we learned to love the staff and children, orphans, children who had been removed from their homes due to violence and severe learning disabilities. Victor, who just turned 46, has spent almost all his life at the Ranch, and will stay there for its remainder. Teenage Cassandra, who didn’t speak when I first met her, is now talking, even raising her hand to ask for prayer or share a praise in their worship service. You can read more about the Ranch in my 2019 blogpost at https://carolshope.com/2019/05/back-to-the-ranch/

I love this scripture from the prophet Micah.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 NIV

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. But it takes courage to speak up for injustice; to express mercy, and to learn what it means to walk humbly with our God. I plan to focus on this scripture more during the year ahead, asking where God wants me to get on board with work He is doing around the world and in my own neighborhood.

May God richly bless you and yours in the new year; and may you rejoice in His blessings as you share them with others.

Moldova and a Shepherd

They stood near the door of Safeway, a Safeway I rarely frequent. A man and his son. The man held a sign saying

Please help.

No money for rent or food.

Jesus loves you.

I wondered whether this was another scam, but approached them with a smile beneath my mask. “Do you know Jesus?”

It was the son who replied. “He’s my Lord.” I told them Jesus is my Lord too, and asked what they needed. The son told me they needed gift cards to buy food for the rest of the family at home. He and his father had just eaten.

“Ok, I’ll be back,” I promised.

Taking my groceries to the cashier, I asked for a gift card, then handed it to the boy as I exited the store.

“I am Carol. What are your names?” I asked.

The older man was Johnny; the younger, Dennis. He was thirteen.

brown concrete building
Photo by Marius Grigoriu on Pexels.com

I asked more about them. The family is from Moldova, the poorest country in Europe. It is located between the Ukraine (where my father was born) and Romania.

What made this meeting even more of a God-moment is that dear friends, Walt and June McCuistion, had a significant teaching ministry in Moldova for several years after the country declared its independence from Russia in 1991, during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As Moldova declared their indepence, Walt became acquainted with some of the country’s leaders (certainly divine appointments!).

“Coming out of communism, we have no system of morality. Can you teach us morality?” they asked.

Walt said he would, using the Bible as his textbook. They agreed.

We prayed for the country as it tried to find its way out of communism.

“We don’t want to be here, begging,” Dennis told me. “But my father lost his job two weeks ago and we don’t have enough to pay the rent and buy food.”

I promised Don and I would pray for them and their family, and for a new job for Johnny. They thanked me multiple times, asking God to bless me.

And He did! Sometimes I feel tight on money because of bills I know are coming; but this family needed that gift card so much more than we do! It was a precious God moment, given by a loving Shepherd who loves and guides me, and who loves this family who was doing what was necessary to care for each other.

I don’t often give money to people on the street or outside a store. But on occasion, and this was one, it seems the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, our Good Shepherd, puts it on my heart to respond. And when He does, I want to listen and obey.

One day Johnny, Dennis, and their family will be with Don and me, and many of you, in heaven. While many of us have enjoyed sweet repast with family and friends this week, Psalm 23:5-6 promises so much more.

clear drinking glass beside white ceramic bowl with food
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:5-6

I pray God’s goodness and mercy for this family now; but know that one day, the trials they face will fade in the presence of our good God, who Shepherds His flock with love and care. And what joy when we have the privilege of being part of His avenue of blessing to someone in need.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:10 NIV