I got this message from Lifeline Christian Mission. This is good story for Thanksgiving.
Sometimes our mind-set is that only those who have abundance have reason to give "thanks". In thinking this, perhaps we are elevating ourselves (though subconsciously) to the status of a "have" when the "have-nots" are also called to give thanks for what they have and to give, even out of their poverty.
The story below is one I have listed in my "Stories To Put In My Book" (that I hope to write someday). It is one that gave me a message that hit me right between the eyes! Let me share it as we think of Thanksgiving and giving thanks...
Around 1988, we had a small work team in Haiti and one day we were scheduled to go to Lifeline's Deuxieme Plaine Christian Church and School to conduct VBS. This was our newest school. Pastor Stuart Lismat (pronounced "Es-Twa" Lismat; he is the current pastor and has been serving at the school/church there from the very beginning. In fact, he's still serving there.) was the school Principal at the time. Pastor Stuart is one of the most enthusiastic and vivacious people I know in Haiti. He remains just as exuberant to this very day, as the head pastor at Deuxieme Plaine.
As usual, we prepared to go with our cooler of water, some peanut butter sandwiches, our VBS materials, games, etc. It was going to be a fun, hot June day!
Upon arrival at the church/school facility, we went in to the main chapel area (which is a large shelter house type structure made of stone, cement, and galvanized roofing). And what was there to our surprise? On the raised platform was a spread of food that was unbelievable! Two long cafeteria style dining tables were graced with beautiful tablecloths and a centerpiece of gorgeous local flowers in a carved Haitian vase.
But the real story is where the food came from: Pastor Stuart had told the parents that he wanted them to bring something to the "banquet" to show their appreciation to the American missionaries. On the table in little pots, on little plates and in some cases big bowls, were things like:
3 hard boiled eggs, a dozen large coconuts, bananas, a small little coffee-cup saucer of spaghetti with sauce, mangos, Haitian bread, a couple of cooked hot dogs, packages of crackers, some rice and beans, and the list goes on.
You can imagine our surprise. There was so much food that this small team of 8-10 of us could never have consumed or even taken back to the mission; all the offerings that covered the table.
Of course we all were in awe! How could these "poor people" do this? But in truth, God provided through them so that He could give them a blessing, and teach us a lesson. God tells us throughout His Word that we are to give, a good measure, pressed down, and overflowing. And He will multiply what we give and extend it, just like he does in our lives every day.
Most of the team members were hesitant to eat the cooked foods, but to be gracious receivers (as well as givers) we consumed some fruits and of course, that cold, bottled Coca Cola! :-)
It was my time to gave a little speech and say how grateful we were. The dilemma, of course, was what are we really going to do with all this? So we told them that we could not possibly consume all of these wonderful goodies, so we gave them back to the kids there to share and, in some cases, take home with them.
So, the lesson learned? We have no monopoly, as prosperous Americans on the gift of giving. In fact, our Lord also tells us that the extent of our sacrifice measures our love for Him.
As you give thanks to God for all good things this holiday, consider measuring the extent of your sacrifice for others. I have no doubt those families who brought in the bounty for us that day were blessed to overflowing because they gave sacrificially.
God bless you & Happy Thanksgiving!
Gretchen DeVoe &
the Lifeline Family
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