A parking meter officer in Westchester, New York got arrested recently for stealing coins. It seems that over a 15-year period of time, he practiced the Kindergartener’s approach to sharing: “one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me.”
The police caught on to his scam and followed him for a while. They believe he stole $89,000 in quarters, dimes and nickels. There would have been some 356,000 quarters or 890,000 dimes or 1.78 million nickels to lug around!
We have had a number of coin collections here at Stoneybrooke. A few years ago, we raised almost $12,000 for a missions project in one week just collecting spare change. This year, we collected over $7000 and once we paired that up with some adult gifts, we were able to send a team of teachers to Nepal, support some of their evangelistic efforts and work with a local organization to address homelessness among Orange County kids.
The coin thing got me to thinking about giving in general. According to a February 2013 stewardship blog (Church Development), about a third of all Americans make no charitable contributions at all. Only about half give up to 2%. And a paltry 15% give between 2% and 10% as a tithe of their income.
Since the economic downturn in 2008, almost half of American adults reduced their giving to non-profit organizations. And what we do give goes almost exclusively to churches or ministries in the US. Only 5% of the donations made by American Christians ever make their way across the oceans. Foreign ministries have to do their evangelistic and discipleship ministries on a shoe string.
Churches in the US spend some 140 billion dollars (that’s a B) on local church work and home missions. Only 7.5 billion makes its way over seas.
So maybe this week is a great time to review our own giving priorities, particularly as it relates to spreading the gospel throughout the world. Does each of us have a missionary family or two that we personally support, pray for and communicate with? Is there a non-profit organization that is doing great work overseas that interests us and we could be helping? Does our church have groups or individuals serving around the world that lack support and we could help them?
Let’s spend a little time thinking about our own “coins” and bills and checks and see if there isn’t something else we could do to help spread the good news Jesus Christ. An empty piggy bank will serve as a great reminder!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel