“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The old bus lumbered up the mountain road climbing out of Tegucigalpa into the smoke of a forest fire which had been burning for months – they had no equipment to put it out. Three friends and I were travelling to some very isolated sections of Honduras outside a town called Danli. We went there to scope out ways we could serve and channel support for the people in this poverty-stricken area.
Indeed, we found poverty and then some. We found a lack of teachers, schools, books, school supplies, a lack of jobs, training, healthcare, the simplest medicines, a lack of clean water, sewage, clothing, even diapers. While these conditions were shocking they are unfortunately very common in nearly all developing nations. And trust me, you don’t know poverty until you’ve smelled it.
Working with the local churches we were able to find and implement some ways that to begin channeling support through our church back home. While I sometimes get a bit depressed feeling like we’re just throwing bricks in the Grand Canyon, I remind myself that every little bit helps and I am glad we made some progress.
The BIG surprise…
However, the big surprise was what I came away with… not the good feeling of having helped the poor from my position of abundance, not a pride in my “benevolence.” I was struck down, humbled with the realization that I was the one who needed help. I was the one in need, spiritually. And I was the one who quite undeservedly received the greatest gift… from those who appeared to have the least to give.
The fact is, these wonderful people had an invaluable gift. Their spiritual gift to me was, well… God. They had the gift of spirit that only comes with knowing profoundly how much we each need God. They knew and lived a closeness with the creator that only those in need understand. In them, I saw and experienced Christ. Their smiles were his smiles, their laughter, his laughter. I felt it and I knew it. It is an indescribable experience, but when it happens, believe me you will know it!
I invite you to receive that same unequivocal gift…
The fact is my garbage disposal eats better than 2/3 of my fellow humans. That’s a horrible statistic but friends, there’s an incredible obligation and opportunity here. When we give and when we serve, without expectation, without acclaim, and for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do, we commit an act of love. The miracle of love is that it’s the one gift which always gives in both directions; you can’t give it without simultaneously receiving it. What a bargain, eh?
I invite and implore you to actively make giving a major part of your life. Regardless of your own spiritual or religious beliefs it is a spiritual truth that giving 10% of your “first fruits” is a fundamental cornerstone to personal integrity and success. Giving can be as great as a fortune and as simple as a smile. It can be service, money or prayers. It can be time, tithe or testimony. And the fact is, what you give will come back to you many times over, though rarely from the same source to whom you gave.
“Giving more than you receive is impossible.” – M. Rayburn
What concerns you in this world? What need cries out loudest in your ears? That’s likely the place to begin. Do you feel especially sensitive to the homeless? Maybe the cause of literacy calls out to you, or hunger, or teen pregnancy, or AIDS.
Whatever it is, don’t just think about it. Take action. Right now. The gift will come back to you in too many ways to count!
Remember also that it is not how much we give but how much of what we have that we give.
I am a strong believer in the biblical passage which says, “Do your good deeds in secret; for God sees your good works and your rewards are in heaven. Don’t boast of your works as some do, rest assured they have their reward.” Therefore, except where necessary (which is very rare) I choose not to get too “public” about the philanthropic work I do. If you really need to know email me. However, I would like to give you some resources, some charities and philanthropic organizations with whom I have a relationship and/or consider to be good, important, effective and financially accountable. They have my endorsement and to get involved with any of them would be a helpful and wonderful thing.
Thank you for your incredible support and for giving me an undeservedly wonderful life. And as I said before, if you’re feeling compelled to give and contribute, act on that feeling! Right now, don’t delay. The world needs you!!!