I stood in front of the room of women and I took a deep breath.
200 pairs of eyes stared back and they had no idea what was coming.
I was about to rock their world.
No, not because I’m the best speaker they would ever hear or because I was going to tell them something shocking–I was simply about to tell them that I was just like them.
I am a rich mom, too.
Admitting this is the best part of my job. Telling others who they are is the hardest.
When I decided to help pregnant girls in Kenya and provide jobs for impoverished women, I had no idea what I was getting into or where that yes would take me. Now, nearly 7 years later, my world has been rocked.
The big lofty goal might seem a little glamorous (babies and jobs)to some. It isn’t. At all. But the every day grunt work looks a lot like fundraising. Like a lot of fundraising.
I wish changing the world wasn’t also code for raising money.
I raise money for the poor. When you unfold the stories and pull away the cute fair trade product, this is what I do.
The other day I was flipping through old notebooks and I ran across my first plan for Mercy House. It listed every “rich” person I knew. That was my plan–to get rich people to believe in a crazy dream. Looking through that list do you know how many of those people actually gave? Not one. Because that wasn’t God’s plan.
I used to think that I just needed more rich people in my life.
But then I discovered my best and hardest job is helping people discover they are already rich.
If you’re juggling car payments and a mortgage and trying to squeeze more money out of your month, you might be thinking, “I am not rich!” I know I would have laughed if you’d told me that when our family of four was living on a one-income youth pastor’s salary. In reality, instead of comparing ourselves to our neighbors and friends, we should compare ourselves to the world.
According to Giving What We Can, you can discover just how rich you are. Let’s say your family of four lives on $30,000 a year total income. That’s not exactly wealthy by American standards, right? Well, with that amount of income, you are in the richest 16 percent of the world’s population. Double it to $60,000 a year and you’re in the top 8 percent richest families in the world.
It’s not just the rich who get to give—it’s all those who give who get to be rich. You don’t wait until you have more before you give to God—you give now so you get to become more in God. . . . It’s not having much that makes you rich—it’s the giving much that makes you rich. Give and you are the rich. -Ann Voskamp
So, yeah, if you’re reading this blog post on a smart phone or a computer, you’re rich. Yes, you there, wondering how to pay for car insurance for your teenager and you making your grocery list for the next week–You have more than you need to survive for a day and that makes you a wealthy person in this world.
I’m convinced this is my job–as hard as it is to say and hear, its my job to remind us (me included) that we have more than we need not so we can build a better life for ourselves–but so that we can share it. One day, I believe I will stand before God and he will say, “It wasn’t luck that you were born in the richest country in the world. What did you do with what I gave you?”
I want to answer: I shared what you gave me.
If you’re reading this, maybe you’re just itching to give some of what you have away. It’s nice of you to ease my work this week. Here are some very real and practical ways you can share what you have:
- Help us sustain thousands of jobs by joining a monthly fair trade subscription club
- Be a conscientious shopper, earn points and help us support women
- Live and give generously by helping us rescue our next pregnant teen in Kenya
- Consider hosting a fair trade home party at your house or market at your church
- Join Miles for Mercy and add a cause to your race
- Attend the Mercy House Gala this September
- Ask your favorite local store or coffee shop to sell Mercy House product (wholesale info)
- Sponsor one of our graduating teen moms and her baby for $21 a month (4 openings)
- Purchase something from the Wish List for our homes in Kenya
We don’t give because we have a lot. We give because we’ve been given a lot to give away.
A generous person is always ready to spontaneously give to those in need. It’s usually inconvenient and unplanned. It will probably cost us comfort, even pride. It won’t be easy or bring us fame.
This is Christianity.
And convincing people who live like I do that they have something to give is the best and hardest part of my job.