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A Modern “Loaves and Fish”

A Modern “Loaves and Fish”

I have always been an advocate of setting aside a portion of my earnings to support the church and other charities. It’s a practice I learned from my parents. My wife was not raised in a Christian home, but she quickly was assimilated into my dedication to this practice. We in turn wanted to ensure our children had the same values.

When opportunities arose, we would talk them through the concept of giving the first portion to help others. They easily got into the habit of charitably giving at least ten percent of any income they received. This is what many call a tithe and our family considered it a standard practice. But I also wanted to teach them about the concept of offerings—a voluntary giving beyond the ten percent. We had an opportunity to teach this lesson after one Christmas.

We had visited their grandparents for the holiday, and as we rode home on the train, they were talking about a cash gift they had received. As the train lumbered on they did the quick math of their tithe. It was ten dollars.

“What are you going to do with the rest?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” they said.

I knew their children’s group at the church had decided to take on a project with Samaritan’s Purse to purchase water filters for villages that have no access to clean water. These very efficient filters turn muddy, diseased water into clear drinking water. They are (literally) life-savers.

At the time, they were one hundred dollars per unit. I told both of them, “If you each want to put in an extra fifteen dollars as an offering, your mother and I will match your funds and you can give it to your Sunday School project.”

So, if you’re following the simple math, their offering would result in the purchase of a unit all by themselves. They excitedly said, “Yes!”

The following Sunday, the boys passed in the money without fanfare, but the size of the gift caused inquiry from the Children’s Director. The staff wanted to share the story in full-church service on Sunday. My eight-year-old said, “Okay, but no names.”
The next Sunday, the Children’s Director told the story omitting the names.  The congregation was inspired and challenged. The pastor suggested they, might want to follow the example of those children.

On the spot, four thousand dollars was raised—forty new filters. What a Christmas gift!

I wrote my dad and told him about all of this. His response sums it up nicely:

“Glad to hear this worked out so well. First, the boy’s understanding and practice of tithing. Second, the understanding of offerings (not yet understood by many adult Christians). Third, the understanding of the added value of the matching gift, which doubled what they originally could have given. Fourth, an example to others which spurred them to act and be blessed in their own hearts, as well as being a blessing to the many who will have clean water to drink and better health because of it. It reminds you of the parable of the loaves and fishes, doesn’t it? I pray that the lesson learned will continue with them throughout their lives.”

I thank God that, so far at least, it has.

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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