God was saving an unbelievable finish to an already unbelievable day.
One of our small groups had an idea to provide a few gifts for a few kids in a local children’s home, and the students in that small group gave about $300 over the course of the semester to make that happen. But through the efforts of social media, and the obvious grace of God, that $300 quickly grew to about $6,000, and the children of the children’s home, as well as the house parents, received gifts that only God could provide. That, indeed, is an amazing story.
The party, then, was scheduled on the only Sunday left in December. Which also happened to be the Sunday I had planned to give our students a chance to make an offering to Living Water International, an organization that provides water to the poorest in the world.
Our students, in our worship time, have adopted this organization during our Christmas giving. Our first offering, two years ago, resulted in about $300. I was ecstatic. Last year, our offering resulted in around $700, which was overwhelming to me. That offering, though, was assisted by a few families and adults, who wrote checks. Still, for the past two years, teenagers gave to save lives, and that was special.
But this year, I felt uneasy. This crazy, Spirit-filled party was an obvious part of God’s plan for our church and this small group. There is no question about that. I would not be able to attend, though, because there are other students in our church who are in other small groups, and they would be in our worship event. They would not be making the trip to the children’s home. And, in spite of all common sense, I still planned the offering, hoping that the students who traveled to the children’s home would make it back in time. I was hoping that our event would at least have, in attendance, most of the students still in town.
To be honest, though, the plan did not make sense. I felt I was in an awkward situation. I wanted to be with the students, and families, at the children’s home. I was frustrated with God. I was frustrated with my own plan.
The event, we call Fortress, began. Maybe 10 students were there. Maybe 15. Some of the students made the rushed trip back from the children’s home, and our total attendance, in Fortress, was maybe 25 students. Certainly no more than 30. Our attendance was seriously depleted, because of the children’s home party, and the holidays. And my frustration grew.
My mind searched for a way to continue Fortress, and not betray my emotions. Should I postpone the offering? Should I do something else? My prayers were for God to lead and guide my thoughts. And God gave me the answer. Leave a bucket to accept the offerings of the students who were there. And then wait and see if you should reschedule the night for a later time.
I did just that. The bucket in the back, a Double-Bubble gum bucket, was left on a stool, and inside were a few bills. The room was dark, with a few lamps. The ambiance was nice, quiet, reflective. And that bucket, on a stool, was an image that I won’t soon forget. The plan was the right one.
I went home, with a few dollar bills in my backpack, left by the students at Fortress. My Sunday night, at home, was normal. Eating supper. Getting children to bed. Trying to unwind from a long Sunday. I actually forgot about the money offered just a few hours earlier.
Around 9:30 PM, I fetched my backpack, and pulled from a small pocket all of the bills that were offered that night. And I began to count the cash. No checks. Just cash.
And then I counted twice. And then another time.
Because the total given, from those few students, was $1,100. In one night.
That was not a mistake. They gave this much money, all in cash. In cash.
And – because of the numbers provided by Living Water International – one dollar provides clean, fresh drinking water for one person for one year. Essentially, our students saved over one thousand lives.
They. Saved. Lives.
This is a narrative in a day that was already amazing. This is the finish to a day I believed was over. God had already provided people, and resources, to plan an amazing Christmas party for a children’s home some two hours away. I, like most, believed the day could not have gotten better. There was no way to improve upon perfect. And I didn’t understand why I stayed.
I stayed, I now understand, to give our students an opportunity to save lives. And that small handful, in Fortress, did just that.
They saved lives, and God saved an unbelievable finish for an already unbelievable day.