Giving Away Money is Harder Than I Thought

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“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

My friend R has a wonderful service project; she calls it “Mini Ministries” and basically she does anything she can to help/cheer up/do kind things for others. One of the best things about her ministry is that all the projects are purposefully done with her daughter. (Her daughter and Journie are about a month apart, they’re total BFFs.) For example, they put together a birthday treat for their neighbour and sang to her; gave out fresh-squeezed juice to the guards at their building, and put together aid packages for the Taal explosion victims, to name just a few.

It inspired me to try something similar with Journie. We have a bunch of coins, so we scooped about  P100 ($2) into a Jollibee paper bag, and set out to give it to someone.

We prayed that Jesus would help us find the right person; I was hoping for a sign, a feeling. In the mall, a man spoke nicely to Journie. Was he the one? But he had a shirt and tie; when I looked down, he had really nice shoes. I was nervous about offending him by giving him a sack of coins. We walked by the people at LBC (a kind of Western Union service), but I figured they were going to get money anyway.

I was surprised by how much uncertainty and apprehension I felt.  Maybe we should do this later.

Then we ran into Bjorn. “Let’s have lunch!” he said. I perked up. Was this the answer to my prayer?

“No!” said Journie forcefully. “We have to find someone to help first. We can’t give up.”

So Journie and I walked around our neighbourhood. I was wracked by indecision, nervousness and judginess. Jounie and I wanted to give the money to someone who looked like they really needed it. I kept hoping that I would overhear bits of a conversation between people about one of them needing money. Or just see someone with a cup out. Finally, I decided to settle on anyone who would make eye contact and pause.

Journie and I sat down at a street corner and waited for someone to come to us. Who did God want us to give the money to? How was I to tell? Would I get a special feeling? Was that person supposed to talk to us first? What??

We walked around our block again. And again. And again.

“This is taking so long!” Journie said. It had been almost an hour. We decided to give the money to the next person we saw, but he didn’t look me in the eye. I was filled with uncertainty and we passed by.

We stopped on the street corner. Searching for— what? Should it be that person? Or that one? How should we do it? What should we say? I was working myself up into another lather of indecision when it hit me.

Literally. Something hit me, on the back of my arm. Not hard enough to hurt, but enough to get my attention. I didn’t see what it was. But when I turned around, I saw an Angkas motorcycle driver (Angkas is like Uber or Grab for motorcycles).

Journie and I marched up to him. “We would like to give you something,” I said, as we handed over the bag.

To my surprise, he sweetly responded, “Thank you!”

Then I lost my nerve and we quickly strolled away (although in hindsight I think I should have stayed long enough to say something like, “God bless you. Have a nice day.” Next time.)

Lesson learned: When doing good, just do it.

7 thoughts on “Giving Away Money is Harder Than I Thought

  1. You probably live in a too affluent district of Manila to find someone who is really in need but there are plenty of people begging in that city who would appreciate some coins to buy their lunch for.I remember that even the police would stop you for minor traffic offences around lunchtime to fine you to get some extra cash even if they were not the most deserving.

    • Whoa. That story about the policemen makes me glad I don’t drive around here. 😀

      Well, the purpose of “mini ministries” is to find ways to do good wherever you are, in whatever situation, with whatever you have. We had prayed for God to send someone to us to help—and He had. They were all around us. But I had let my own bias cloud my eyes: the person I wanted to help had to look a certain way, act a certain way. I realized I was withholding my help because I wanted to judge what constituted “real” need. But then I also realized: I can’t judge hearts. People of all societal levels need help, even if they don’t outwardly look like it. Who knows who’s struggling underneath that Armani suit? But even if the people around me didn’t need the money, who wouldn’t want a random act of kindness done for them? Maybe it would’ve brightened their day to get a gift, or maybe they knew someone who did need it and could pass it along.

      So I shouldn’t have been so judgmental. It threw me into the chaos of indecision and confusion. Sometimes we may feel like people don’t need our kindness, but IMHO, everyone always does. The real lesson I learned is that when motivated to do good, you should just do it.

      All of which I probably should have included in my post, but I’m trying to stick to a self-imposed limit of 500 words (which I blew on this post anyway. 😀 )

  2. I consider myself an extroverted confrontational person and that sounds intimidating way to me. I admire your reliance on your faith to guide you to the right person. I love that Journie wasn’t giving up.

  3. Pingback: Mini Ministries, Part II | Go Karlmans

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