Jane is a university student–that's another way to spell "poor." She has very little left over at the end of a week, perhaps enough for a modest night out with friends. Food, textbooks, and laundry are the extent of her budget. On Sunday night Jane regularly heads home to mooch off Mom's table-it's better than paying for bland residence food. And besides, Dad always slips her a "loan," a small gift of money to ease the tension of higher learning.
On one of her weekend pilgrimages to that Sabbath celebration, Jane had stopped to fill up her thirsty car at a local gas station that was holding a promotion: buy thirty litres and get your name entered automatically in a drawing for a shopping spree in the mall across the street. Jane filled out her entry form without thinking. It's what you do, but when the last time you won anything? However, chance was sitting on her shoulder that day, because a few weeks later she received a call asking her to claim her prize and set up a time to cash in her winnings.
The dinner table was abuzz with possibilities. Father was practical-more parts for the car, a new printer, maybe a prepaid cell phone contract. Mother was leaning toward the fashionable-a new wardrobe for scouting out that necessary summer job. Sisters and brother hoped to share in the winnings. "Just get me a little something-that CD I always wanted or a new computer game." In the end, the family agreed that Jane should do whatever would bring her happiness. Jane smiled and said she'd think about it.
And she thought about it all term. May came. No action. June stretched into July and still no rendezvous at the mall. Jane's mom had given up, believing the prize would go stale before her daughter got to her shopping.
Jane waited until the waning weeks of August. Out of the blue, she called her mother, asking for help with the coveted prize, "I've decided what I want to do!" For three hours the two women roamed the aisles of countless shops, assembling a back-to-school package. Not for Jane, but for a disadvantaged family – neighbors down the street. Jane had wanted to make sure every child had a fashionable first-day outfit, the needed school supplies, and cool lunch kits to match. No leftovers–these kids would get the best. Every dollar went into getting them a head start in September.
And fun? Mother and daughter took so much pleasure in every purchase–testing their choices with salespeople, enjoying each little treat and extra extravagance. When the money was gone, they sighed with relief and satisfaction. Jane had indeed done what her family suggested. What could bring her more happiness than giving away her prize for a just cause?
This stewardship story is excerpted from Giving: Growing Joyful Stewards in Your Congregation Volume 5, with the theme of "Let God Lead", based on the scripture based on Deuteronomy 26:2. the magazine and Theme Materials Starter Kit provide a comprehensive assortment of materials for developing a customized stewardship program for your congregation. Learn more and order in the ESC web store.