The following is the first of three blog posts written specially for CHIC participants who learned about Covenant World Relief at CHIC and want to know more about how to continue being involved with Covenant World Relief in their home settings. They were written by our recent intern, Kaleb Nyquist, who just graduated from North Park University with a degree in Global Studies and Conflict Transformation.
“Giving money? You can’t be serious. How can I do any good in the world through giving the little money I have? Can’t I be more effective doing a short-term mission trip, and actually going to the people in need? Or, if I am going to send my pocket change abroad, can’t I at least get something out of the deal, like a trendy pair of canvas shoes that tells the whole world how generous I think I am?”
These thoughts about giving money overseas are an example of the hold-back attitude I held throughout high school. Those were the years (okay – year) John Mayer’s “Waiting On The World To Change” blared on pop radio stations three times every hour, reinforcing in our heads “Now we see everything that’s going wrong / With the world and those who lead it / We just feel like we don’t have the means / To rise above and beat it.”
The hold-back attitude believed the world was governed by rich powerful old men and there was nothing we could do until we eventually became rich powerful old men and women ourselves. And in that day, when our generation ruled the population, we were somehow going to do good things, unlike the generation before us, which obviously aspired to do evil greedy things when they were our age. The exception to the rule of greedy rich powerful old men was Bill Gates, who was (and still is) giving his billions through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Compared to that, what good was my charitable fraction of a minimum-wage part-time summer job going to do?
With the hold-back attitude, I thought I was able to hold my head high over those who were “Robin Hooding” their parents, those who would give forty bucks to such-and-such a cause and then turn around and ask their dad for lunch money.
Jesus, however, tells us that the hold-back attitude is very misguided.
From Mark 12:41-44 –
Jesus sat down opposite the temple treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.’
The hold-back attitude says “don’t give, because it doesn’t matter.” Jesus calls us to a spirit of “give no matter what, and see what happens.” The hold-back attitude waits until we grow up to be rich, powerful old men and women. Jesus pushes us to give in a sacrificial way – a way that should make us feel slightly uncomfortable, but a way that helps us to realize God, and not paper money, is the foundation for our lives.
It is important to remember, of course, that what does not seem like a lot by American standards can be a small fortune in certain parts of the world. As high schoolers and young adults alike, we are simultaneously the rich people and the poor widow. What this means is that it does not take a miracle to accomplish a lot with a little.
There are plenty of excellent non-profits which you have options to make sacrificial donations to. We hope that you will consider giving through Covenant World Relief, although you are going to need either a checking account or debit card to do so online (otherwise, go ask your church to wire your donation to us). You can give to either our general fund, specific ministry areas (examples include hunger, women’s empowerment, micro-enterprise), or even a specific project we are currently funding that you may have heard about. We work hard to establish relationships of trust and accountability with each of our partners, so that you may know that your money is going to be used responsibility.
Of course, how much you should give is a question to be settled between you and God and perhaps even your parents. We cannot answer that for you. But no matter what that amount ends up being, consider this an invitation to leave the hold-back attitude behind and come join us as a partner in transformation.