Monday, July 13, 2009

The Rich Family

This is long, but please stick with me...

Yesterday in Bible Fellowship class we studied Matthew 5: 1-12, the Beatitudes. We were asked to reflect on how we could better be living in line with the characteristics that Jesus called blessed. Our teacher, Mike, shared with us a story by Eddie Ogan known as The Rich Family. After reading her story, Mike told how he had searched for more info on Eddie and read how she and her husband and their children (biological and adopted)lived to this day giving to the church and to missions. I'll let you read the story and then I'll share it's impact.


“I’ll never forget the summer of 1946. I was 14, my little sister, Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to rear and no money. By 1946 my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home.

A month before Easter, the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offer would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. That would allow us to save $20 off our grocery money for the offering. Then we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money of that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three potholders to sell for $1.00. We made $20 on potholders. That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in the church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the Pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering. The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church. On Easter morning rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in new clothes and I felt so rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting in the second row. From the front, Mom put in the $10 bill, each of us girls put in a $20.As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch, Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes!

Late that afternoon, the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked her what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10, and seventeen $1s. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling millionaires to feeling like poor people. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. I know we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I never thought we were poor. That Easter Day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like feeling poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed that I didn’t want to go back to church. Everyone there probably knew we were poor! I thought about my school friends and felt terribly embarrassed to be thought of as “poor.” We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. The joy of what we had done, of sacrificing and saving had been taken away from us. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on our way to church as we usually did.

At church that Sunday, we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said,“Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Ocy, who gave it to me. And I dropped it into the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He wasn’t expecting such a large offering from our small congregation. He said “you must have some rich people in this church.” Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.” We were the rich family in the church! From that day on, I’ve never been poor again. We had been given back the joy of sacrificial giving.


So I'm sitting there, listening to the story and thinking. While not poor like Eddie, we live dollar for dollar. I can't just cut a check and donate to all the causes that I believe in. Yet I have a desire to give, to give sacrificially. I want to live as one of those Jesus called blessed in Matthew 5:3-10.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

I'm a SAHM, I don't have much of an income except what I get from selling my hair bows. Eddie and her sisters looked for ways to save and for what they could sell so that they could raise funds to give. I have donated my items on many occasions for fundraisers. A basket is being picked up today, in fact, to go to a charity auction this weekend to raise funds for the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias at the 5th annual Rally for Ally who has Ectodermal Dysplasias. I enjoy knowing that my handiwork can help raise funds. My mind immediately turned to a family needing funds to save a life. My bloggy friend Adeye . She and her husband, Anthony, are adopting precious Hailee from Eastern Europe. Time is of the esscence to get Hailee home is an understatement. You can read about her on Adeye's blog and click the button below for additional information and sponsorship.

What did I feel in my heart I am called to do? Use the talent God has given me to create and sell my hair bows and donate all profits toward Hailee's adoption expenses. I'll post specifics with details about my products and pictures and links and a button to grab to spread the word in my next post. I've got some work to do to get this ready to go!!


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