...the Life and Times of Karolyn Lewis.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Micro-giving for the Stinkin' Rich

A few friends and I send money to Ethiopia on a regular basis and I often invite others to join in via Facebook.  Here's a recent post:

Although hundreds of dollars have been donated via Facebook, I've never gotten a donation of less than $20.  I've lobbied for micro-giving until I'm blue in the face, but no one has ever handed me $3 or $5 or even $10.  Several people- on their own-  have expressed their desire to give but claim they can't afford it.  

This post contains my thoughts on giving: why it's important, how much one should give, and where one should give.  It is NOT an attempt to raise more money for the kids in Ethiopia, but if you decide to donate~ I'll take your $5 with a smile on my face! 


While in High School a man gave me $100 to help me get to Costa Rica.  I had been accepted into an exchange program and my parents couldn’t afford to send me- my brother was in his first year of college and the funds just weren’t there.  So I hit the pavement asking for donations!  Within a few weeks, I raised $1000 and within a few months I was abroad- immersed in a culture that would forever change me.  Looking back, that trip altered my worldview and influenced how I built my family. 

Years later I ran into that same man and thanked him, yet again, for the $100 he gave me.  I told him how I wanted to be a giver-like him- and how I hoped God would bless me with enough money so I could.  With a good bit of grace he looked at me and said, “Don’t wait until you have enough money to give.  Give now.  Give what you can now.  God will see you give a little and bless you to one day give a lot.”

Without coining it as such, he was telling me to be a micro-giver: someone who gives in small amounts.  

So I did.  I started giving.  I didn’t give much, but I gave.  I gave where I could and when I could and God has certainly blessed me because of it.  Thankfully, I married a giver and we give together. 

I honestly believe the act of giving far outweighs the amount we give.  I love the story of the poor widow in the Bible who gave just a few cents.  She was a micro-giver.  She gave a tiny amount, but she gave.  Her story will last throughout the ages.   

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost sight of the small.  If we can’t throw $100 in the pot, we just don’t give at all.  It’s go big or go home.   

Wanna know why I LOVE micro giving?   Because I have four kids with four sets of growing feet.  One of them always needs shoes.  Or jeans that reach below the ankles.  Or socks without holes.  The power bill has to be paid every stinkin’ month and- dangit!- these kids expect to eat.  Life is expensive.  Especially in America. 

But this is no excuse.   In reality, we have no excuse.  We can afford to give.   We may not be able to give much, but we can give something. 

If you drink soft drinks, you can afford to give.  If you smoke, you can afford to give.  If you go through a drive-thru once a week, you can afford to give.  If you have your house cleaned or your dog groomed, you can afford to give.  If you have cable or a mobile phone, you can afford to give.  If you eat out at least once a month, you can afford to give.  If you own a car, you can afford to give.  If you go to a gym, you can afford to give.  If you drink bottled water, you can afford to give.  Had a pedicure lately? You can afford to give. 

You can afford to give because you are stinkin’ rich!!!  If you don’t think you’re rich, you are comparing yourself to the wrong people.  I’m not sure it’s completely accurate, but I think there’s enough truth in this quote to give us pause:

There are thousands of ways and places to give.  So give!  Find a good, charitable organization and GIVE.  Do your research.  Find out where your money is going.  Do some due diligence to make sure your money isn’t paying for jet planes or vacation homes Europe. 

Give because you want to give and because you can!  As a Christian, I am determined to give my money where I think God’s heart is bent—to people—especially poor people.  And when I say poor I don’t mean I-can’t-afford-to-pay-my-power-because-my-kid-needed-a-new-iPod poor. I'm talking game-changer poor. Destitute, life or death poor.  

I challenge you to give and see what happens.  In fact, I’ll give you a 100% guarantee that if you give $5 to a worthy organization or person this month, you will not starve, lose your house, or have your car repossessed.  You won’t.  I promise.

God’s economy isn’t like ours.  In fact, the returns don't even make sense.  Are you broke?  Are things going wrong in your life?  Are you sick or ill?  Are you depressed?  You may want to take a look at your charitable donations of late.   There are tons of passages in the Bible about giving but my favorite one is from Isaiah 58:

6 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousnessa will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

Want to get God’s attention?  Start giving.  Start taking care of people that can’t take care of themselves.  Then your light will break forth like the dawn. That'll preach.  

You can afford to give.  You can afford to give.  You CAN afford to give. 

So give. Give small.  Give often.  Give big when you feel led.  But give.  

Just in case you think my family gives tons of money away each month, let me clarify some things about our personal giving.  Remember- this post is about micro-giving:

~We tithe 10% of our income to our church home every month. We do this because it’s Biblical, not because God needs our money.  God doesn’t need or want our money; He wants our obedience.  If you do not tithe I highly encourage you to do so.  

~We drop a few dollars every month in the “poor box” at our church.  Over the last four years, our church has given away over $50,000 to help the poor.  $50,000 made up primarily of pocket change and single dollar bills.  That is micro-giving at its finest!

~We faithfully give money to an orphanage in Africa every month.  I wire the money directly to the orphanage myself.  I have spent time at the orphanage and have a relationship with its director.  I have seen the clothes he wears and the car he drives.  It is with great peace and confidence that we give him less than 1% of our income every month.  Did you catch that?  Less than 1% of our income.  We don’t give a lot!  But we give.  And we are blessed because of it. 

~We give money abroad because we’ve been abroad.  I am not well traveled, but I have had extended stays in South America, Central America, and Africa.  I have NEVER seen poverty here in the United States like I’ve seen it abroad.  Our welfare system may be flawed, but there is food and opportunity in abundance here in the United States.  We know there are sad, sad stories right here on the home front, but we are fully convinced and convicted that the poorest of the poor here in America still live better than most people in the world.  


And for the hearty ones who’ve stuck with me this far, here’s a BONUS RANT:  Please don’t unfriend me on Facebook or call me gross- cause some of the stuff I'm gonna share with you is just plain nasty.  So if you throw up easily, just skip the BONUS RANT.

The ASPCA commercials and their sad music make me want to vomit.  I adore animals, but they will never, ever be as important as people.  And before you call me hard-hearted consider this:  I have picked hundreds of maggots out of the wing of a mangled peacock.   I have housed rejected baby pigs in my kitchen and have bottle fed them around the clock for months.  I’ve picked up a starving, flea infested pit bull from the side of the road and made it a family pet.  I’ve loaded a full grown goat into my mini-van and carried it like a baby into the vet’s office.  I have helped a chicken lay an egg- yes this possible and it probably saved her life.  I’ve donned a lubricated rubber glove and examined a goat to see if there was another- possibly dead- kid inside of her.  My love for animals is wide and deep and I will gladly advocate for them, BUT THEY ARE NOT PEOPLE.  They are not NEARLY as important as people and they never will be.  Never. EVER. Ever. EVER.

ASPCA commercials make me sick because I’ve seen people more destitute than the animals they show.  I’ve seen a legless man in ratty clothes pushing himself down a filthy road on a splintered up dolly.  I’ve seen a deformed, homeless boy with only one eye begging in the marketplace.  I’ve seen grass huts and dirt floors.  I’ve seen distended bellies and skeletal limbs.  These people- people that I’ve seen in real life with my very own blue eyes- they deserve my concern and charity. Nothing makes me dive for the remote faster than one of those out of proportion ASPCA commercials.  To say they offend me is an understatement of the highest caliber.  

I’ll kindly step down from my soap box now.