As part of our recent $30K Millionaire series about money and our stewardship of it, each person who came to The Porch was given an envelope. Inside each envelope was cash.
A total of $5,100 was given out to the roughly 1,500 young adults at The Porch that night. Most people received $2 bills (yes, they still make those), but some people received $5, $10, $20, or $50—and one person received a crisp new $100 bill.
The money came with some instructions:
First off, the money did not belong to them. It had been given by a number of anonymous individuals, who wanted that money to be used to meet needs. The people receiving the envelopes were stewards tasked with using the money to fulfill that purpose and meet needs.
Each person must pray about how to steward that money.
The money could not be given to the church.
They must do something with the money; doing nothing was not an option.
They were asked to email back and give an account for how they used the money.
Below are some examples of the responses we received back.
I was one of the lucky recipients of $20 and the next day I was approached by a man named Don who was homeless and said he needed clothing. I took him to Walmart and walked around and helped him shop for clothes. This was a humbling experience -- to see what he needed, and to think of all I had been blessed with that I didn't deserve. He got two pairs of pants, two shirts, socks, underwear and a gift card for his family. When it was all said and done, we spent $207.80. He was overjoyed and felt like God had granted him a favor. I was able to share my faith with him and gave him the opportunity to ask questions, then dropped him off downtown and told him I would be praying for him.
Food Bank Deposit
My envelope had $20 enclosed. I was so moved by the gesture that I decided to donate $1,000 to the North Texas Food Bank that feeds the needy in the Dallas area. And not only that, but NTFB has a campaign going on now that doubles your contribution. Therefore, because I was entrusted with $20, that amount was multiplied by 100 so that $2,000 in total went to benefit the less fortunate!
Pieces of the Puzzle
Every day as I drive home I there is this homeless man that lives under the bridge at an intersection near my house. My plan was to have three sealed envelopes, approach him, and make a deal with him. Inside each envelope was an amount of money and a puzzle piece that I made from computer paper.
I approached the homeless man (who was named Randy) the first day with the three envelopes. The deal was that he could choose one of the envelopes each day for 3 days. We each made 2 promises to each other. First, I promised Randy that each time he picks an envelope the gift inside will be better than the day before. Second, I promised him that the third gift could possibly save his [eternal] life. In return, I had him promise me that after he opened each envelope he would hang on to each puzzle piece for the next time I saw him, and that I could have five minutes of his time after the third day. We shook on it!
When I first approached him and introduced myself to him on day 1, I had three envelopes all with $5 and all the same puzzle piece. Day 2, the two envelopes had $10 and again identical puzzle pieces (but different from the day 1 piece). And for D-Day (as I called it) the envelope contained the $2 from the Porch and the last puzzle piece.
A buddy of mine was with me on the D-Day when Randy opened the final envelope. Although the 3rd envelope only had $2 in it, there was the missing puzzle piece that made a cross. When I taped the 3 together he said, “That's a cross, this is a Jesus deal!” The fact that the money did not matter in his zero-income eyes, but that the computer-paper-taped-together-cross was, in fact, better than the previous $5 and $10 melted my heart and almost brought tears to my own eyes. He did let me talk to him about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as he went on to tell me about his testimony. After it was all said and done, the three of us gathered in a circle arm-to-arm to pray to God that we would all continue to walk in the name of our Lord and in the life that He has marked out for us.
I recently met a new Porch volunteer. Last Friday, we ran into each other at a party. As I asked the obligatory "How's it going", he started to open up and be vulnerable right away. He mentioned that he was stressed financially; he had recently moved into a new place (but was considering having another guy move into his place just to make ends meet) and his car had lots of mechanical issues. All of this financial stress was causing him to consider dropping out of school (seminary) for a semester. As I listened to more of his story, I was amazed at how positive he was, knowing he was in the midst of a difficult season.
I left the party and his story continued to weigh on me. As I brought this up to some roommates, it turned out that they knew him much better than I did and had both been praying about it, but didn't really know how to help.
We ultimately decided to do a scholarship for his next semester at seminary. We wrestled with how much to give, and challenged a couple of friends to pray about it. As I started to tell more people about this person's story, they responded, “I know that guy, I am in. Tell me how much?” I continued to pray about it and encouraged others to do the same. 11 people participated, and had received a total of $44 at The Porch. We ended up giving $3,712 toward his tuition. Hopefully this student will go on to build many disciple makers in his ministry after school.
So I went to The Porch and received an envelope with a $2 bill in it. I have been thinking long and hard about how to grow this $2 for God (because obviously it is His money and I don't want to mess this up). I have decided that until I have a better idea I will do the following things with it:
I have taped it to the inside of my front door to remind me when I leave the house every day that ALL of my money and time was given to me by God. I will need to give account for how I used it, so I want to administer it wisely.
My first response to #1 above is that each weekend I will spend at least 2 minutes identifying at least 2 things I have that I can give to charity or to a person in need. (Starting out it may be more like 2 boxes than just 2 things!) As I am doing this I will reflect on how wasteful it is to buy things that I rarely (or never) end up using or how blessed I am to have received gifts from others, which I can now pass on to other people who can get more use out of them. I will do this until I am down to only the things that I absolutely need and nothing more.
I have a younger sister who used to attend Watermark/The Porch but no longer does. I have always had anger, hostility, and resentment towards her after she become pregnant at a young age on multiple offenses.
When I received the envelope, I placed it with another envelope containing my paycheck for the last two weeks. I had been so busy that I hadn't gotten around to depositing it yet. God began convicting me that He had better plans for that money than I did.
Tuesday morning in the car, God placed it on my heart to send the entire check to my sister. My sister had just recently gotten her first job, at 20 years old. She has been struggling to just pay for daycare and gas, and her car was in need of a tune-up. I called my sister to apologize for my actions, to ask for forgiveness for how I have treated her in the past, and to share with her what Christ has taught me this month. I then went on to tell her about our last lesson at the Porch and the assignment. God had placed her on my mind and I wanted to share my check with her and meet a need in her life.
She began to cry, and told me that just that morning she had gone to get food stamps and was told that she made too much money to qualify for the program. She didn't know how she was going to provide for her son. She was frustrated, because she felt like she was trying this time and that things just weren't going in her favor, and she had prayed and asked God to take control.
It turns out that she has a friend who is able to do the tune up for a fraction of the cost, so the money that I had envisioned for her was meeting her needs way more than I thought He could. God is amazing!