There’s a note on my desk that my eyes scan across about a dozen times every day. Actually, not a day passes that it doesn’t cause me to pause and double-check my decisions.
On an average day, I’m making hundreds of decisions – some bigger than others. Do we respond to this humanitarian crisis? Do we help this community rebuild after a natural disaster? Do we work with this corporate partner to obtain food? Do we send shoes to an orphanage in that country? Do we provide help to that village? Should we use this shipping company to deliver supplies? On and on and on it goes. So many needs…so many decisions.
When my eyes see that note, it reminds me why I do what I do and to whom I serve.
Yes, we serve the poor worldwide. We serve families as they try and rebuild after a natural disaster. Yes, we serve churches as they distribute our supplies in their local communities. However, there is another “customer” that makes this entire ministry possible.
That customer is you.
As the note on my desk reads:
“This has been a hard one for us financially, but we know so many are worse off than us. We recently had a yard sale to help with our fuel oil bill, so we are enclosing a tithe portion for Gleaning.”
I’m not naming the couple who wrote me that note so I hope they don’t mind me including it here for you to read. That note looks me in the face every time I turn to the desk to work. I know I am working for them.
In such a difficult time they reached out to Gleaning with a donation that they could not afford. But, they wanted to do something to help those who are in worse circumstances. That is one of the most humbling notes I have received.
I know from time management that it is not the best use of my time to sign every “thank you” letter personally that goes back to our financial donors. However, I have done that since the first donation in July 1998, and I will continue to touch and sign each one.
I am fully aware that people just like you who donate to Gleaning are doing so with a trust in our team and in me. I take that very personally.
That’s why I work long days – to make sure we make wise decisions, obtain the best business deals and handle supplies in the most efficient manner possible. It results in us using every donated dollar and turning each dollar into at least $113 in supplies that are delivered to the suffering among us.
I’ll never forget the call I received from a lady a few years ago who was raising her five grandchildren on just the income from Social Security. She told me she could not donate much since she did not have food for her grandchildren. Her comment still rings in my ear every day:
“Rev. Davidson my grandchildren often go to bed hungry and that is hard. But, the worst part is when I go to bed and know there is nothing for them to eat in the morning.”
And yet she sent $5. I was so moved that I sent her a truckload of food.
I visit most disaster sites and I see and feel the pain people are experiencing. They have lost family members, homes, their pictures and family heirlooms, and the personal things all of us keep. Some have insurance and can rebuild in six months while others will suffer for years.
All I can do is promise them that I will never forget and that we will do everything we can. I pray with them and let them know that God has not forgotten them. My wife says the weird thing about me is I never forget. Even after 18 years, the memories are like an album of names, pictures and stories of the suffering that I pray I never forget.
I can promise the suffering that we will be there for them because of people like the one who donated their tithe from a yard sale to pay the oil bill and the lady whose grandchildren were hungry. It is an album of memories – memories of suffering families and those who have lost everything. It is also an album of people like you that have trusted us for years to use your financial sacrifice to help others.
I pray that I will never forget that you have placed a deep trust in Gleaning and me personally to use your donation effectively and with honor.
When I think about having Thanksgiving time with my family later this month and all God has blessed us with, I will also remember that I have the privilege of working every day in your name and I will give thanks for you. Gleaning could never be “the most efficient nonprofit in the United States” without that mutual trust between you and me.
Thank you a million times for allowing me to live out the vision God has given me. Thank you from all the people I meet whose lives seem hopeless until we arrive with what they need to get back on their feet. Thank you for being the hands and feet of God to create miracles in the lives of others.
The decisions continue today. I’m even having to make some tough decisions right now as finances are less than hoped as the end of year approaches. However, that note reminds me, as does every gift you send, that we are doing God’s work together. I know He will honor our sacrifice.