I love a good deal. Sometimes, at the grocery store, you might find me with jars of spaghetti sauce in hand calculating how I can get the most for my money. With the recent earthquake and aftershocks in Haiti, many people, myself included, have noticed the eclectic “cereal aisle” of charities that exist. I start to wonder which organizations get the most out of their donations. Many of them do good work with values and strategies unique to their organization. However, not all charities are created equal nor are all charitable donations the same.
As I've observed and participated in the drama unfolding on television and through the internet, I've realized how my handling of money does indeed reflect the conditions of my heart. Sometimes, I see how much I have, how little others have and I feel guilty. And sometimes I give to alleviate that guilt. Other times, God breaks my heart and I give out of a deep compassion for others. To say the least, my heart is a mixed bag of motives.
I've come to discover that even my generosity can become self-serving. I give out of convenience or material abundance rather than faithfulness and self-sacrifice. I give to feel good about myself or because I feel bad about others. I'm far from perfect. However, I've come to realize that each dollar I give is another chance for my life to be marked by authentic generosity. And every persistent choice to sacrificially replace the fulfillment of my own desires with the pursuit of something greater than myself is an opportunity to subvert the selfishness which pervades my life.
And as I learn to faithfully, wisely, and intentionally give for the long-term, I am learning to partner with organizations that invest their resources with a similar mindset. Our partnership with Food for the Hungry has shown me what these types of partnerships can look like.
Food for the Hungry, or FH, works in and through communities to break the cycle and bonds of poverty. In addition to providing for the most immediate physical needs of children and their communities, FH aims to develop holistic spiritual, emotional, and structural transformation. Our chapter sponsors FH children from the Dominican Republic through prayer, finances, and correspondence and for that I am grateful. The earthquake has also left tough tolls on FH ministries established in Haiti. Yet, FH has been diligently partnering with communities to rebuild and find hope.
I remember as a student sponsoring our child, Josefina. The engineers at ISR were thrilled that her favorite subject was math. What really brought joy was realizing that our money was not just going to her. FH was investing the money in community infrastructure that would contribute to the physical, emotional, and spiritual development of Josefina and the children in her community. We did not write to her often, but when we did, there was a richness that came from telling her about the beautiful colors of our autumn, the uniqueness of snowflakes, and sharing a little bit about our lives and hopes for her through handmade cards. In the midst of school and life, the simple responsibility of raising money and writing letters to Josefina sometimes seemed like a chore. Yet, as I look back, there is a joy in knowing that seeds of hope were being sown both in the Dominican Republic and in our lives at ISR.
As the tragedy in Haiti reminds us of the depravity and brokenness of the world, I try to remember the hope that is also found budding in communities all around the globe. The challenge is to fight the impulse to give out of guilt, convenience, or from the leftovers of our excess. I am learning to give faithfully, wisely, and sacrificially as a lifestyle – to wrestle with the conditions of my heart and fight the systemic injustices which intersect my life. And as I set out on this journey, perhaps, I'll see a God that not only transforms the world but transforms my heart.
for more information about Food of the Hungry and relief efforts in Haiti.