Learning about generosity… take 2.
Sometimes, I have to cringe/laugh at how long it takes me to get things. I’ll explain. It’s particularly funny given my previous post about CDs.
Sometime around Christmas 2000, the stereo in my Houston apartment broke. That is, the CD player on my roommate’s stereo died. Now, as music-loving folks, this was a problem. I have a serious CD collection, and not being able to listen to them seemed really silly. I immediately started plotting about getting a new one, and rescuing us from a music-less existence. It wasn’t exactly in my budget, but hey, this was important!
In January 2001, there was a massive earthquake (7.9!) in western India, and more than 55,000 people died. I knew about it, but it hit home because we talked about it at my church. Ecclesia had relationship with a mission organization or church near the epicenter, and was taking an offering for earthquake relief. As I sat and listened and prayed, I realized that God was being pretty clear about what I needed to do. Here I was thinking about buying a new stereo while people there had lost their homes. If I could spend $250 on my ability to play CDs, why couldn’t I give it somewhere it was desperately needed? I didn’t regret giving the money, and we figured out how to hook up a discman with a car kit to the tape deck of the home stereo.
Fast forward to this week. I was scoping out the latest mp3 players, since it would really help my exercise routine. Two weeks ago, a massive earthquake hit Bam, Iran, and more than 35,000 people have died, with many more homeless now in the cold having lost their loved ones. It hit me last night as I was innocently reading an email that mentioned places to give. I felt like God was saying again… that if I could justify buying an mp3 player, what keeps me from giving to earthquake relief again? I don’t know what it is about music stuff and earthquakes for me, and why the Holy Spirit uses it as a teachable moment…
I feel like an idiot for taking so long to put my money where my faith is. It’s true, I can’t give to everything, and there are many worthy causes. I don’t want to live my life feeling guilty about this computer I’m typing on, or the music piping through my speakers right now. BUT, the truth is – my car needs an oil change, so I’m just gonna go pay for one. And if my car, or stereo, or computer died, I’d go out and pay to get it fixed – sure, it wouldn’t’ be in the budget, but I NEED it, right? So maybe giving to Iran wasn’t in my budget, but it seems like God was telling me that it certainly deserves some of my ’emergency funds.’
It’s hard to talk about money, people (including me) get easily offended or feel guilty or whatever. I debated some about whether to write this… don’t want to be preachy, arrogant, self-righteous, etc… but I think God’s teaching me something, and I want to share it. I really believe that God cares about how we steward His money … just as much as (if not more than) He cares about whether we steal, kill, or commit adultery. I think it’s cuz the way we treat money shows a lot about our hearts… I could write for awhile about that…
So…. the latest bbc news article says that something like 73 million dollars is needed to rebuild infrastructure, hospitals, farms etc. Half the health workers were killed in the earthquake. I know that the money I gave is just a drop in the bucket, but I think there are a lot of other potential drops out there. And I believe in the God who fed some 15,000 people with a Long John Silver’s kid’s meal.
In case you want to be a drop, here are some organizations taking donations, as recommended by Sojourners:
Church World Service: http://www.churchworldservice.org/news/archives/2003/12/148.html
International Red Cross: http://www.ifrc.org/helpnow/donate/donate_iran.asp
Mennonite Central Committee: http://www.mcc.org/respond/rapid_respond/iran/index.html
Mercy Corps: http://www.mercycorps.org/iran/
National Iranian American Council: http://www.niacouncil.org/iranquake.asp
World Relief: http://www.wr.org/feature_stories/view.asp?id=30000069
The sorta funny thing is that after I moved to Austin, some of my friends gave me their way-better-than-my-old-one stereo system, because they had received a super-cool one as a gift. I didn’t need it, but for whatever reason, God lets me enjoy the 5 disc changer. (see previous…)