“Do all you can with what you have,
in the time you have,
in the place you are,
do all you can….” – Do All You Can Lyrics, Devotion (www.devotionsings.com)
Two powerful stories came across my radar this week, one recent and one a year old.
Did you hear about Curtis Jackson in Chicago? Not 50-Cent, but the OTHER Curtis Jackson? From December 2010 to May 2011 he plunked down over $9,000 to pay for a hotel room for a single mom and her 10-year old son after the woman lost her job as a banker and had her home foreclosed on. “I’m one of the richest men on earth, ‘cause I have God,” said Curtis. “Money is not my master.”
Here’s what’s unusual about this story. Curtis Jackson has no assets and has been homeless since 2004. The woman in the story? She used to stop and give him money and talk with him over the years, when she would see him panhandling. After losing her job and then her home, the woman and child were living in her truck for three months – until Child Services threatened to take the child away if she didn’t come up with something safer. Her social worker gave her money from her own pocket to get a hotel room for a few days and come up with a plan.
That’s when Curtis Jackson stepped in. He heard about her plight. And then every day, he quietly started taking the money he received panhandling to the hotel to pay her bill. He kept enough for food and bus fare for himself. He paid her bill until she didn’t need a helping hand any more.
Curtis gives because he doesn’t feel like he lacks. And he’ll keep giving and helping anyone he sees who could use a hand up.
And then there’s Los Angeles lawyer Tony Tolbert who made headlines last week when he moved back home with his parents. He donated his fully furnished home for a year to a single mother of four who had been living in a homeless shelter for women and children. Some praised his act, some questioned his sanity, others questioned his motives, some ranted about how the folks were going to trash the place, others chastised him for it being “only for a year.”
Funny thing, though. This isn’t the first time Tony Tolbert has opened up his home like this. The year before, he “rented” his house for $1/month for a year to a single mother with three children who were living in a shelter for abused women. His only direction: “Whatever has to happen to keep things drama free, that’s what I need you to do.” The experience went so well, he decided to do it again.
Tony was encouraged by an article that described how a family sold their home, moved into a smaller home, and then took the $800,000 sales proceeds and donated the money to charity.
“We can do it wherever we are, with whatever we have,” said Tolbert, who’s own father taught him the importance of giving to others.
These are two men from vastly different backgrounds, who chose to make a difference. So often, we see people in need and we ask “why doesn’t somebody DO something?” And we point the finger at those who we believe are the “somebody” who should be taking action.
I think the problem is, most of us, somewhere in our minds, don’t think we are “somebody”. Instead, we tend to think, “who am I to… help, step in, get involved, create something amazing?” We also tend to think that those who have MORE should do something for those who have LESS. And when those who have more do things for those who have less, we judge the motives of the givers, and we judge what the recipients will do with what we give them. Just as we judge the way we give and the way we receive. It’s a vicious cycle of cynicism that keeps us from extending and receiving love. (If you’d like to break through that cycle in your own life, get a copy of the free e-book and workbook Heal Your Relationship With Money at www.paulalangguthryan.com/thepill
The way these men give reminds me so much of the work that Pastor George does for his fellow Kenyans in Nakuru. He and Naomi have a blended family of nine. (Including the young twins Paula and Paulette!). They spend almost all of what they earn paying the tuition for school children whose parents can’t afford to send them to a school that teaches in English. The average salary for a Kenyan is $1080 a year.
Pastor George knows firsthand that learning English is the ticket out of poverty in Kenya. Others helped him get educated, and he is paying that forward. Even when it means his own family goes without. That’s why we support Pastor George and the Bright Star Academy as one of the projects at The Village Gathering.
Pastor George’s belief is this: “God always provides.” And even if it means he goes a day or two with only tea and toast, God has provided one more day of education for a small child. And for him, that’s a precious gift.
It takes so little to make a difference in this world. Each of us IS somebody. While it might seem over the top to give all you earn to a homeless woman or school children in a faraway country, or to give your house away to a family for a year at a time, you do have something to give right now. Even your spare change makes a difference.
Give locally, or if you’re so guided, join me in helping Pastor George transform the fledgling democracy of Kenya into a sustainable positive African economy by keeping Kenyan children in school. Every dollar donated to The Village Gathering via www.paypal.com goes directly to the projects we support. The only exception is the Western Union or Wire Transfer fees charged. A $35 donation feeds a school child (they get 2 meals plus tea each day so their brains can learn) for an entire MONTH. $50 feeds a child and pays their tuition for a month if their parents can’t afford it.
To learn more, or donate today, visit http://www.paulalangguthryan.com/the-village-gathering-kenya-projects/
It’s like the wonderful duo Devotion says in their song about a young boy with AIDS in Africa who spent his time, before he died, doing charitable works: Do all you can, with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are. Do all you can.