Challenging Fact: I’ve heard that America spent roughly 20 billion dollars on ice cream in 2007 — enough to provide everyone in the world with clean water and food.
Through a variety of different means, I’ve been reminded again over the past few months about some of the basics of godly financial stewardship. Some things I’ve heard before — like the fact that the Bible talks more about money than any other subject, or the helpful reminder that you can tell where a person’s heart is if you look at their bank statements. But somewhere, I feel like a spiritual corner has been turned, and I am thinking about God’s money (the bit of it that’s in the Collie family hands) on a whole new level. I am challenged to the core to see a change in the way we live. Here’s my best attempt at describing what’s been going on in my heart.
One piece of the puzzle of what’s happening, I think, has to do with our sponsorship of a child through Compassion. I’m not sharing this to say “yay for the Collies, aren’t they great!?” but seriously, this is part of the story. For Â£18 each month (that’s currently about $26) we’re helping Compassion provide regular medical check-ups, hygiene training, dental care, supplemental nutrition and educational opportunities to a child in Burkina Faso. This little country in Western Africa, north of Ghana has a population of about 15 million, a life expectancy of 52 years, (some estimates are closer to 44) and a literacy level around 21%. Most adults are unemployed, but some work as seasonal labourers and earn the equivalent of Â£10 (yes, TEN POUNDS – less than fifteen dollars) per month.
So, Â£18 – $26 used to not seem like a whole lot of money to me. It probably won’t pay for a meal at a restaurant in Scotland. I might be able to find a pair of jeans for that in America, but probably not here in Edinburgh. My food budget for a month here for our family is about twelve times that. But now, it suddenly seems like a whackload of cash. I’ve spent more than Â£18 on a single item of makeup before, and I’m pretty darn ashamed of that now.
The question that’s now ringing in my head at the till (cash register) was posed to me in a sermon recently — will this matter in eternity? And now I’m thinking about how I can spend LESS money on myself, because we could potentially sponsor another child. And another. Or maybe save up enough to sponsor the building of a well in an area without clean water! If we keep driving our old car, could we provide clean water for a village somewhere? Worth it!
Two weeks ago, a gentleman knocked on my door to share with me about a charity that is working for the protection of certain species of wild birds in Britain. Don’t get me wrong guys — I’m an avid recycler, I bring my own (IKEA) bags to the grocery store and don’t use plastic ones, I turn out the lights when I leave the room, and I care about the environmental impact of us crazy-consumer-humans. But I had to tell the guy, I cannot with a clear conscience pay for the stranded dogs and endangered birds of Britain when there are kids in other countries, like Burkina Faso, dying of malnutrition, malaria, meningitis, and diarrhoea. Seriously, dying of such easily treatable disease. While these kids and their families are being raised up with instruction about health, nutrition, opportunities to earn income, and so on, most important, people are sharing with them about the God who created them, loves them, and wants to spend eternity with them. Jesus cared about the poor, rejected and brokenhearted, and He instructed us to feed His sheep. Food for the body, and food for the soul — both are given in Jesus’ name.
To sum the matter up for the moment — I am thinking about things eternal. The Lord knows exactly how much money I’ve spent (or convinced my Mom to spend) on clothing, on food, on superfluous stuff, and on stuff that I actually needed. I’m afraid I would be ashamed to know some of those figures. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel like Oskar Schindler at the end of the Holocaust, looking at a ball point pen and thinking, I could’ve sold this to save the life of another Jew. It’s amazing that his incredible efforts have an amazing legacy — perhaps 6,000 descendants of Schindler Jews are alive today — and yet, he thought, “I could’ve done more.”
I do want to have Schindler’s attitude, for Jesus — “What more can I do?” “What else can I sell?” “How else can I serve or give to see your Kingdom come?” There are people that are hungry, there are people that are hurting, and there are people dying every day who don’t know anything about the God who loves them. How can they hear, unless someone tells them?