Monday, October 30, 2006

All I have to offer

All I have to offer

Today I was stopped by one of our tutoring parents whose daughter started attending a few weeks ago. She asked me if our church provided financial assistance because she and her two girls were about to be evicted. As we talked, I learned that the father of her kids is supposed to give $650 a month in child support, but he has gone into hiding. So she is making due by working 37 hours every two weeks at $6.25 an hour, or $462 a month before taxes . Simple math tells us that, with her rent being $600 per month, she is not making ends meet, and even with child support, her monthly income would be almost 1/3 of what I make.

I was grieved when I came home, knowing that in about 24 hours or so, my month’s salary would “magically” appear in my bank account via direct deposit, and all my bills would be paid for, and soon our “new” minivan would be paid off (yes, I have now entered the Minivan Stage of life). While I didn’t feel guilty for what Diane and I have, the stark contrast between my life, and the life of this family really hit me. Her daughter who attends our program is such a sweet kid, and to think of the transitions that she has endured even in recent months (living in a hotel for four months before moving to this house) makes me cry. How can a child go through that and not shut down their heart? How can a parent who is facing such obstacles greet me at the door with a smile on her face?

I had to tell her that our church can’t help them right now and pointed her to the Greensboro Housing Coalition, and then we prayed on her front porch. It was all I had to offer, and, correct theology aside, I felt that it wasn’t enough. And yet I am thankful to be here, because prayer is what she needs. More than a check. More than a new house. She needs to be reminded that there is a God who cares, who loves her dearly, and who will take care of her and her family. It truly was all I had to offer, and it was all that she needed.

1 comment:

Denine said...

Thanks for sharing her story, Marshall. It breaks my heart to hear this story over and over again, and to know that there is so much wealth in the world (and in the church). More than that, there are gifted people who can help our friends with money management, job skills, etc.--this information-sharing is even more important than sharing the wealth. As a church, we have an opportunity to connect members of our body with members in our community in need. But we're not. And that makes me sad.

And I hear you on the prayer thing. Theology aside, some days it just doesn't seem to be "enough."