One image from my recent trip into the DRCongo continues to play before my mind’s eye. The image is of the offering plates of the Sunday service we attended the village.
The church usually places two plates on the front table – one for the minister and one for works of the church. They had asked me to preach this Sunday and so the Reverend gave up his plate, asking the congregation to give to their guest. I was humbled that he would call the congregation to offer a donation to me in an area where they have so little. I was still more humbled as I watched every member come forward gradually during a joyful worship song.
I also went forward to give to the church’s plate. I dropped a 2000 Ugandan shillings note in – worth less than a dollar. From my position at the front of the church, beside the podium, I was looking directly at the offering plate. At the end of the worship time, everyone had contributed to the plates and yet mine was the only note in the bowl – no one else had been able to afford more than a 100 or 200 shillings coin. Some members had no coins and so they wrote notes promising to bring some of their crops – a small bag of beans, or green leaves.
All that I could think of was how pleased God must be with that congregation as two Scriptures came to mind:
Now Jesus looked up and saw rich people dropping their gifts into the offering box. Then he saw a destitute widow drop in two small copper coins. He said, “I tell you with certainty, this destitute widow has dropped in more than all of them, because all the others contributed to the offering out of their surplus, but she, in her poverty, dropped in everything she had to live on.” ( Luke 21:1-4)
We want you to know, brothers, about God’s grace that was given to the churches of Macedonia. In spite of their terrible ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and deep poverty have led them to be abundantly generous. I can testify that by their own free will they have given to the utmost of their ability, yes, even beyond their ability. They begged us earnestly for the privilege of participating in this ministry to the saints. We did not expect that! They gave themselves to the Lord first and then to us, since this was God’s will. ( 2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
Even as I think on their sacrificial giving, I ask myself: “What more can I give?”
I think of the times I’ve sat on a bus eating and never offering the person beside with me to share my meal. I think of the books on my bookshelf that I’ve read once and will likely never read again. I think of dusty toys from my childhood I’ve been unable to part with and the excess clothes in my wardrobe.
Are you willing to give when it hurts? How can you give today? Who can you joyously share with from your abundance?