I’ll never forget on Sunday in 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy, 12, and Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the we knew what it was like to do without. Dad had died five years before, leaving mom with seven kids and no money. By 1946 my older brother and sister were married and had moved out.
A month before, the preacher announced, a special offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially. When we got home we talked together of what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20.00. Then we turned off the electric lights as much as possible, and didn’t listen to the radio, to save money on our electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as she could, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could make 3 pot holders and sell them for a dollar. We made $20.00 on pot holders.
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 imagined how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them.
The day before the “big day”, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got three $20.00 bills and one $10.00 bill for our change. We ran home with more money than we had ever had in our hands. That night we could hardly sleep as we waited to go to church on Sunday.
When the offering was taken, mom put $10.00 in the plate and each of us put in $20.00. After church, we went home where mom surprised us with boiled eggs to eat with our fried potatoes.
Late that afternoon, the minister came and spoke with Mom. When he left, she showed us what he gave her. It was the envelope with the money from the church, $77.00. We all just sat there and just stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling rich to feeling like we were poor.
On Saturday, mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. We didn’t know. We had never known we were poor. We certainly didn’t want to go back to church, but mom made us go. It was sunny, everyone was singing in church… but us.
We had a missionary who talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said that $100.00 would put a roof on one church building. The minister said, “Can’t we sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached in her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me and I handed it to Ocy, and Ocy put it in the offering. The minister counted the offering and it was just over $100.00. The missionary was excited because he had not expected that from a small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.”
Suddenly it struck us! We had given $77.00 of that “little over a $100” given. We were the rich family in the church. From that day on I have never been poor again. I know I am rich in Jesus. (Mark 12:41-44).