Last Saturday, when the final week of summer short-term groups arrived, someone handed me a bank envelope of $800 and said it was a gift to the ministry to be used however it was needed.
I immediately pressed, “Would you like this spent on a teen in our program? At one of the Rio squatters’ villages? For a children’s home? A medical need?”
The donor responded, “I know it was to be this amount and there are no strings attached.”
When I hear that, I know there is a story coming. There are instantly a dozen ways I could spend $800 well. Needs abound in our organization; it’s the nature of what we do and who we serve. But, I decided to wait on the Lord on this one, so I put the money in our safe, and just prayed for wisdom on how to use it. Days passed and on Wednesday, I prayed, “God, I know you don’t work this way, but how cool if the donor could see this week where their money was spent. Just tell me what need you raised this money for.”
Later that evening, I was talking to Meme, who serves here with us in one of the squatter’s villages. She was an orphan as a child and last year became a widow. She ministers to the families of her community with a grace and resolve that is widely admired. I finish our conversation and walk away.
“Beth! Come quick!” she yelled. I turned around to her and gasped. Her front two teeth had fallen out completely. She sat there, devastated.
I learn that evening that she hasn’t ever received regular dental care and it had been years since she had her teeth professionally cleaned. The next morning, I took her to a local dentist office and told them to temporarily fix the problem and then to call me with the estimate of how much it would cost to fix them permanently. I knew that we would have to raise those funds for her. An hour later I got a call from the dentist, who reviews with me the lengthy process and multiple other outstanding dental needs.
I responded, “She is a giver of good news to highly unreceptive people. She needs to be able to open her mouth and speak the truth to them. Tell me the damages… how much will all of that cost?”
The dentist paused, knowing I would have sticker shock. “Eight-hundred dollars,” he said.
“No problem. Get started,” I answered with a smile. “Our Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He sold some for her benefit last week…”
I knew the dentist didn’t understand my reference, but Meme sure did, as did the donor when we shared the story with him later that night. Respond to the prompting; pray when unsure; and then wait for the story.