Several years ago, my office phone rang and the person calling said, “Pastor, we have an old worn out couch that we are throwing out. We would like to donate it to the church. Would you please come and get it?”.
As we are preparing for next week’s Thanksgiving Missions Trip to the Rio Bravo Feeding Center and Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala, a key part of this project is taking much needed clothes and shoes to needy children there. One thing we usually stress when we go on these trips is that we wish to take new clothes and shoes to the children in these places. I usually get asked about this. It seems that lots of North Americans want to send their used items to these children. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but allow me to explain our philosophy on this one:
There is a practical concern:
You would be amazed at the trash that some people want to donate. We have literally seen garbage given. Dirty, smelly, worn-out clothes are some people’s idea of a contribution to the needy. We spend valuable time weeding through the items, discarding what belongs in the dump. Now, not everyone who donates used clothes gives trash, but we find it simpler to request new clothes. In addition to this, you would be blessed to see, like we have, kids receive a new item who have NEVER had anything new. We laugh every time we see a kid wearing a new shirt with the price tag still on it! They are proud of their new clothes and want everyone to know.
There is a spiritual concern:
Read carefully what Jesus teaches us in Matthew (25:35-40 CEV) regarding giving to and helping others: “When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.” Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?” The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”
The point Jesus is making is – whatever you give to others, you give to Him. Think about it, giving to Jesus your worn out shoes or clothes! The problem is, many of us are perfectly comfortable with giving Jesus the leftovers from our lives.
Jesus deserves our best. These kids deserve our best. If your best is worn out stuff, give it with a clear conscience. If you can do better, do so.
Next week, a bunch of very poor children will receive new shoes and clothes. They will hear that Jesus loves them, and they will believe it.
And no, we won’t come and get your old couch!