About 450 people replied to our stewardship challenge to let us know how they used the money that they were entrusted with. There were many great stories—more than 85,000 words worth of stories, in fact, which is approximately the length of a 300-page novel.
Though we cannot list all of that here, we did want to share a few more stories about how the money was stewarded.
The $100 Bill
My wife and I do not live in Dallas, but we were in town visiting our daughter and went to The Porch service with her. It was a great service and I am going to continue to watch the stewardship series via the internet.
I was the one who got the $100 bill. At first, I was very burdened by that. But as I prayed about it more and more, God told me that He would show me what I needed to do, and I didn’t need to be burdened.
Two days later, at a regular Bible study we attend, a visiting missionary spoke about her work. She has an orphanage in Kenya for young girls that have been sexually and physically abused. She explained that they had just acquired 22 acres of land and built a road to it. She wanted to expand and create a safer and more self-sufficient facility.
I gave the $100, plus another $100, to the orphanage. I have also committed to help her buy some goats, a cow, or chickens in the future.
This was a great experience for me and I have never felt as good about giving as I do now. This has changed the way I see things.
I received a $10 bill in my envelope from The Porch. All week I have been praying about how to steward this money.
On Monday, a guy in my class walked up to me and asked if I could talk for a second. I was hesitant, but agreed. He shared a bit of his story with me and how he is going through a really hard time in his life. He said he wanted to know my story, because he felt like there was something different about me and had to know. (Editor’s note: see 1 Peter 3:15.) I used this as an opportunity to share my testimony. Afterwards, he just looked at me and started laughing and told me that he was an atheist. He asked me if I really believed that God was able to "make good out of bad things." I told him I absolutely believed that. We then started talking about family, and I told him how my brother is in seminary. He again laughed, but said he thought that was interesting. I felt like God was telling me to get him a ticket to "Contending with Christianity's Critics" conference, so I did. He is interested and excited about it. I know that it is still a little bit away, so I'm praying that God uses this time to stir in his heart.
Myron and Richard
Late Wednesday night I went to get gas and was approached by a man who was offering to wash my windows on my car. I said “no thanks,” but struck up a conversation and began to find out a bit more about him. (His name was Myron, he was former military, had been unemployed for a few years, and was trying to get back on his feet.) He kept offering to wash my windows, but I asked him what I could do for him and what he really needed. He said that he needed a shirt and some pants; his were quite worn. So, I told him to hop in and we would go to Target.
On the way to Target, he quickly showed me how he had just gotten a new copy of his birth certificate, which will be huge in helping him get a job. His excitement about that, combined with his excitement that he would have some new threads to go into his interview with, was a true joy to watch. I discussed with him that God had put it on my heart to do something nice for someone. I talked briefly about what God has done in my life, how He views us, and what He wants for each of us. He briefly discussed his on again/off again relationship with God.
As we went into Target I told him we were going to get whatever he needed, not just a shirt and pants. We picked up toiletries and clothes. After noticing his inability to read any of the sizes, tags, or signage, I also got him a few pairs of much-needed reading glasses. It was the glasses he was most thrilled about (so he "can read job applications," or anything for that matter). As we went around the store, he kept talking to himself and then saying, "Thank You Jesus!" We got some funny looks from people.
As we were wrapping up, he asked my name again. When I told him “Richard,” his face went into complete shock and he became extremely emotional. I asked him what the significance of that was. He told me that he had someone who looked out for him, an older friend/mentor named Richard, who had passed away right before Memorial Day. He said that was tough on him and had set him back. He always worried that he had disappointed Richard. I told him maybe this was God's way and Richard's way of letting him know that he has not disappointed them, that they love him, and that they are looking out for him. After he composed himself, I gave him my contact info and told him to contact me when he gets back on his feet.
I am really praying for my friend Myron and hoping to hear from him in the near future. I ask that you will do the same
The Beatboxing Lemonade Stand
Our family didn't get an envelope, so we just pretended to have a two dollar one. We took it to the dollar store and bought lemonade and cookies. The kids decided to also use their tooth fairy money to buy popsicles. They set up a lemonade stand and sold lemonade, cookies, and popsicles. They then decided to sell songs and beatboxing. They actually made the most money from beatboxing. Overall they made about $40, and we went to the store and used that money to buy food for one of the single moms at Watermark who is really struggling financially right now. They were super excited about it and I loved the lesson—thanks for doing it!!
Gospel and Groceries
A friend and I were each given $2, and after The Porch on Tuesday, we brainstormed about how we could be good stewards with the money. He came up with the idea of heading over to a local Walmart, paying for someone's groceries, and then sharing the gospel with them afterwards.
So to Walmart we went. We sat in his car before entering, and asked the Lord to direct our path and point out someone who not only needed the financial assistance, but who needed Jesus.
In we went, and the first person we talked with said she did not need financial help, but could use some prayer. We prayed for her, her friend, and the two children that were with them.
We moved on, and as we walked down the aisles, I had the strong feeling that I needed to speak with a family that we passed by. They too said they didn't need help financially, but that they were new to Dallas and looking for a new church, and wanted to resurrect a dry relationship with Jesus. We had a long talk about Christ, and told them about Watermark. Then we prayed for them and their children.
We continued walking, and asking folks if they needed help, and ALL of them said no. After nearly an hour, we were feeling a bit discouraged. We decided to move to the checkout line and just pay for someone as the Lord guided.
We got to the front of the line, and I walked around, feeling extremely nervous, clutching my wallet like the money was my own. But then my friend started talking with a couple who had a newborn baby. He introduced me, and we began to tell them that we were doing the Lord's work and would like to pay for their groceries. A look of bewilderment passed over the woman's face, and she accepted our offer. In her hand, she was clutching a food stamps card, which she quickly stuck back in her wallet.
The total bill came to about $180, and my buddy and I split the cost. Afterwards, we told them how much Jesus loved them, and that he knows their struggles and wants a relationship with them. We invited them to Watermark, and told them about the resources there. We closed in prayer, and went on our way.
It truly blessed me to see my friend’s giving heart. I was reluctant to give because I am a recent college graduate and don't have much money. The thing is, so is my friend, yet he had no trouble at all giving what he had. Not only were we able to bless others, but I learned a lesson in faith: the money is not my own, and even if I were called to give all I had, then I should do so cheerfully.
The 450 responses we received represented $1,602 of the $5,100 that was handed out. Those people gave away that $1,602, plus an additional $55,196, for a total of $56,798 given to meet needs in our city and around the world. That is more than 35 times the amount that stewarded.
Of course, the real “stewardship challenge” is not this one-time event, but is the challenge of treating all of our resources and talents as what they are: God’s resources entrusted to accomplish His purposes.
How have you changed the way you steward money?