Today, we received the exact details of a $3,224.05 donation to Churches Helping Churches. We’ve received donations of all sizes since our inception in 2010; some large, some small. This one is perhaps the most memorable.
Twenty Five churches in Haiti, still very much recovering from disaster themselves, committed to taking a one-time special offering to assist their brothers and sisters in Christ – those impacted by the tsunami in Japan. We knew they had raised about $3,000 – a figure in itself that I found amazing.
Looking through the list, the familiar sight of French names filled 25 lines on a spreadsheet:
Eglise Evangélique Baptiste de Corail
Eglise de Dieu en Christ de Fontamara
Eglise Evangélique de la Grace
Eglise Nazaréen Philadelphie de La Gonave…
Many of these churches participated in our pastor’s retreat. Then, my eyes wandered to the “amount” column:
The numbers made my eyes well with tears.
The average annual income in Haiti is around $450. People routinely die from curable diseases, like malaria. Education is not a given. Poverty is a way of life.
The people who filled these collection plates are the people who have worked alongside CHC for the past year to rebuild their churches. Who joyfully come to worship God in their temporary, open-air structures. Who need these funds for themselves. And yet, in spite of their desperate lack, they have reached into their pockets and given what they have, and beyond.
I think of the church that collected $6.25 and wonder how many people contributed to their meager offering. I imagine widows and young men and couples with small children giving change they do not have to spare, but giving gladly, knowing the pain of disaster and wanting to help how they can. I imagine them totaling the amount with pride and sealing their envelope.
I think of the church that collected more than $600 and wonder what it felt like to give such a large gift – one that would surely have made an extensive impact had it stayed within their own congregation. I wonder if their church has ever received so large an offering for their own use. I imagine their celebration when they realized how much they had collected when such an offering is improbable at best.
There are no other details. But I know one thing: this is a true Biblical offering. It has nothing to do with the amount, and everything to do with hearts of those giving.
[Photographed by Kenny Kim © 2010 Churches Helping Churches]