Archive for March, 2010
Almost daily, I have been reminded lately – and challenged- about the concept of giving. Not that I haven’t reflected and chewed on this before – many, many times. But several weeks ago, I was privileged to spend a couple of one – on – one hours with a friend who was a full time volunteer at Crossroads for 4 years, and was visiting from the UK…and, yet again, the conversation has, metaphorically speaking, thrown me another gauntlet, and I’d like to share it with you.
Nearly three years ago, my friend’s mother died – with no warning, no tell – tale signs that anything was wrong. She had recently retired from many years teaching, and she and her husband had made the decision to pack up their comfortable lives in England and move to Cambodia to serve the poor. One evening, this much loved woman, one week after her 60th birthday, said goodnight to her husband, went to sleep – and never woke up.
For my friend, the phone call from her dad, telling her the news, changed her life in every conceivable way.
However, that evening several weeks ago, she shared something else with me. almost by accident…
We had been talking about many things, one of them a common topic amongst volunteers here at Crossroads – how we were doing in our support raising, and managing from week to week on no guaranteed finances. I asked her how everything had gone with the sorting of her mum’s estate, and she replied – so casually – ‘Oh, yes I received some of my inheritance..’
“And…” I persisted, “Can you use that to pay for all your college fees this year?”
There was a tangible pause in the conversation.
“Well, no…. ”
I guess we are good enough friends for me to not feel like I was prying by even pursuing a conversation like this. The questioning look on my face must have been enough. My friend, with a casualness that was in itself stunning to me, said, ” I gave it away”.
I’d like her to share with you, in her own words…
‘I was working at a children’s home in Andhra Pradesh, India. Mum had just died and we were sorting things like inheritance etc. Dad emailed me to say that I was to be given 20 thousand pounds now. I was excited thinking I could do all sorts of things with it.
I’d been very ill for a month and a bit, most of it was spent in bed, so all I could do during that time was pray and read the Word. BEST thing I could do eh? During this time I began to be convicted that I was to give my inheritance to the children’s home. Whaaaaaaaat!!!??!
So I reasoned myself out of it, but the conviction kept growing, consuming my thoughts and all the personal desires that were whispering all the things I could do for myself with that amount of money.
I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t do anything while I was trying to work out what I should do.
In the end, the money became almost dirty to me, I needed to get rid of it all and quickly! There became an urgency.
So I spoke with the guy in charge of the children’s home. He was shocked. I told him I felt the need to get rid of the money urgently. In the end, I begged to be able to give him the money!.
The money was used to buy clothes, food and educational stuff for the kids. At this time, there was much strife and persecution in Orissa state, so we were able to help many people there as well. Many other orphanages and children’s homes were helped.
it was truly amazing.
I think that’s about it.‘
How profoundly simple those words – ‘I think that’s about it’. My friend had given away her inheritance of 20,000 pounds ( that’s over AUD $33,000 on today’s exchange) because she had been convicted to.
And following that, she then returned to Hong Kong to work as a volunteer for a further 2 years.
Now I know, truly I know, that some of you reading this will quite understandably have mixed reactions – ‘Wow’, you’re probably thinking, ‘that really is an amazing thing to do, but did she have to give it ALL? Especially, when she herself was going to be a volunteer and in need of financial support herself?’
Well, in my friend’s case, I think her story, told in her own words, makes it clear that, yes, she had to give it all – no matter what the personal outcomes were for her. And the only person she told, apart from the director of the children’s home, was her dad – and he totally supported her decision to ‘give it away’.
I believe we are all being convicted of certain things right now. If we have not allowed our hearts to be hardened by the self – obsessed societies we live in, we WILL be seeing the legitimate needs of others – in many cases right under our proverbial noses. And as we see them, and are moved by them, and have fitful sleep because of them, and perhaps even begin to weep for not caring enough for our ‘neighbours’ – THEN we will begin to make the hard – but oh so beautifully liberating -decisions. For my friend, it was giving away her mother’s inheritance….. what will it be for us?