Monday, June 05, 2006

STEWARDSHIP PROJECT #3


Debbie Sanders

May 21, 2006

What I did with the money:

I changed a life! I bought a goat!

I purchased a dairy goat through World Vision – a Christian relief organization dedicated to helping children and communities by tackling poverty. They strive to provide for the physical needs as well as the spiritual needs of the communities that they serve.

They take the goats and give them to families (often a single mother with no means to support her family, or an orphan who is not only trying to meet his/her own needs, but care for younger siblings as well). These goats provide milk, cheese, and yogurt for the hungry families to eat. They often sell excess milk products in the local markets. Their excrement is used as fertilizer for the family vegetable garden. These goats thrive in areas that are unable to support cows or sheep. The amount of land they need is minimal. They aren’t picky eaters – often subsisting on local herbs or shrubs. They are tough little critters! Within a year, most are able to reproduce – often with twins! The flock can continue to grow offering even more security to the struggling families.

What I hope to accomplish for the master with the money:

My goal is to be the faithful servant - the one invited to share in God’s joy!

Matthew 25:21 - His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

How this project has helped/challenged/encouraged me:

I have to be honest with you. When Pastor Scott said that he would be doing a six week series on Stewardship, I rolled my eyes and thought “Here we go again…been there…done that…heard this story before.” I have been taught lessons in Stewardship since I could walk. I tithe. I give to missions and special projects both inside and outside of the church. I have given hours and hours and hours to church ministries by teaching, singing, leading teens - you name it I’ve done it! I was fully prepared to do some “pew time” but didn’t really look forward to the next few weeks. These are not areas I struggle for obedience in.

But God had other ideas!

When I was “randomly selected” (there really is nothing random about God!) to participate in this Stewardship Project, my heart sank to my toes. I really hate being put on the spot like that. I usually feel inadequate to the task. Creative ideas can be a struggle and time deadlines only make it worse. I felt pressure to come up with a singularly spectacular idea which would not only meet the criteria laid out before me, but to do so in a way that would “present well” to the congregation. Pastor Scott said that the $50 was just like any other $50 dollars God had given me, but that wasn’t really true – this was the church’s $50 and I had better come up with something good!

Wow – even as those thoughts ran through my head, I realized that Satan is alive and well and chose that period of time to allow pride to rear it’s very ugly head! My heart stilled as I prayed that God would show me what to do with HIS$50 – regardless of what anyone else in the church thought!

As I thought back to the sermon (despite my “been there, heard that” attitude – I really did listen and have learned quite a bit over the last few weeks), I wondered about the phrase “share your Master’s happiness”. What makes God happy? As I read further in Matthew 25, I came across these verses (Matthew 25:31-36):

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another…he will put the righteous on his right and the unrighteous on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

How could I feed the hungry or give drink to the thirsty in a way that would last? I sponsor a child through Food for the Hungry, but that is $28 a month – forever. What could I do for $50? My thoughts went back to a conversation I had with my son, Matt back at Christmas time. He was telling me about a program where you could buy a cow for a family in Africa. I remember doing my sister’s taxes for her and seeing a contribution receipt for a flock of chickens for a family in a under-developed country. The idea took hold and I began to research organizations that provided these critters.

I found that I could give a goat for $75 through World Vision. I found other organizations that offered goats for less – but they were merely humanitarian groups offering nothing which would feed souls as well. World Vision works to build relationships in these communities – meeting physical needs of the people and sharing the gospel too!

So, where do I come up with another $25? I thought about asking some of my friends at church. But I have never felt comfortable asking people for money – so I wondered if I was just being a coward, or whether this was God nudging me out of my comfort zone. I struggled and prayed about it (I know - it’s only $25. I’m not asking them to take a second mortgage out on their house! Why is this so scary?). Pastor Scott’s words came back to me – this $50 is just like any other $50 God gives you. One of the quotes regarding giving that Pastor Scott used the second or third week of his series mentioned not just giving out of your excess and I have so much excess! Why was I even considering asking my friends for $25 when God has provided me with so much more than I need? The extra $25 needed to come from me! (Actually, $100 came from me – I bought two goats)!

Another surprise waited for me. I thought that once I had a plan and carried it through, that would be the end. I would write my report to the congregation, close the chapter, move on. But something unexpected happened. When I finished placing the call to buy the two goats, I didn’t feel like it was finished. God has been prompting me to pray for the two families that will receive these furry little bundles of God’s love. I am praying for healthy little goat “kids” and the “kids” who will be eating its bounty. I am praying that God’s call on their hearts will be as persistent as the bleating of a goat waiting to be milked each morning. I am praying that God takes this gift and doubles it and doubles it and doubles it again.

So, the project continues…. I don’t know when it will end, but God does.

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