Reverse Offering Stories

The Challenge

On Sunday, April 19, 2009, Pastor Doug challenged the congregation to practice the discipline of looking for needs and extending mercy by doing something (however large or small) to meet those needs.  During the service everyone, regardless of age, including visitors experienced taking an envelop out of the offering plate.  Each envelope contained a $10.00 bill with the intention of looking for needs and blessing someone with the money.  The money came from two different sources - seed money from someone in the congregation and the Management Team approving additional funds so that everyone who attended could participate.

Pastor Doug encouraged the sharing of stories from persons who received an envelope...below are a few stories that have been shared. 

To report your story e-mail:  info@prairieviewmc.org

(This page will be updated as new stories come in)

STORIES:

Our family decided to donate our money to the Caring Pregnancy Center to restock baby supplies that are handed out to those in need.
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We gave our $20.00 to Heart to Heart and they were thrilled!  They gave us a tour of their building too - we'd never been in there before.  They introduced us to the young man helping them this summer also.  It looks like a good thing for Flanagan or anywhere.
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I had the opportunity to use the reverse offering money last week. We had an elderly gentleman come to the emergency room late afternoon on Wednesday. He was seeking some minor medical attention but also informing us that he was homeless. He had been evicted from his apartment at the beginning of the week, (this was the week that was extremely hot) and had spent one or two evenings trying to sleep on a park bench. The police found him and put him in a hotel for one evening and informed him that he could not stay in the park after 11:00 in the evening. They told him that he would have to find a place or sleep on the sidewalk downtown.
 
The social workers tried to find this man a place to stay but there are no shelters in Pontiac or Streator, and the shelters in McLean county were all full because of the heat. Attempts to contact family and friends were futile due to estranged relationships. I asked if they had contacted Peoria and volunteered to take him there if shelter was available. The Peoria rescue mission did have room so the gentleman agreed to go. I had to take him to filll some prescriptions and then over to Peoria so we had a considerable time to talk.
 
During the time I asked him several questions about his life, occupation, family, etc. trying to warm up to the real conversation I wanted to have concerning salvation. It took me a while but I finally got there and found that the man was raised in a catholic family and attended catholic schools as a child but had abondoned the church. He had some stereotypical views of what the church was about based on his history and some televangelism. His basic view was the church wants you to be good and give them money. I tried to reiterate that the real message is not about good works or money but that God recognizes that we all sin and that he gave us Jesus who gave his life on the cross to cleanse us and free us from our sin, that Jesus is our Saviour. I explained that Jesus was a free gift from God and that doing good is what we do because of our appreciation for Jesus. The man also voiced skepticism regarding money and tithing, stating that all he hears from the TV preachers is to give money and that God will give you more back. I also explained that the concept of tithing is a biblical principal but that it isn't just giving to recieve. I tried to explain that God blesses those who are faithful and that we have to trust Him. I explained that we may not always receive the things from God that we want but that we can be assured that God is good and that he will give us what we need.
 
As we pulled up to the rescue mission he was nervous but stated that maybe this was a place that he could start over. I knew he did not have any money so I gave him the reverse offering plus a little more. He was thankful and stated I will pay you back, but I told him I didn't want anything back that this was a free gift just like Jesus is a free gift. I had read of a similar gesture in a devotion some time back using a free gift of money as reinforcement for the plan of salvation.
 
I helped the gentleman fill out the paper work and went over the rules with him before leaving him. Upon departure I informed the man that I would be praying for him. It has been my prayer that the seed was planted and that through his time at the rescue mission he may come to really know Jesus and that he will come to know what God has in store for him. I also pray that he will find a way to be reunited with family.
 
I don't want this to sound like I did anything special. I think that God arranged the circumstances, I happened to walk through the emergency room at the right time, and all the pieces fell into place.
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Here is what I did with the money that was given to me.  Someone from the youth group was complaining that they never had fruits or veggies for their Sunday night Bible Study and mostly pizza's etc.  I put another $10 with the original $10 and gave the $20 to her and her father to buy fruit and veggies and dip for their Bible Study.
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I thought and prayed about to whom I should give this money.  Several ideas came to mind, however I quickly dismissed them.  
 
Then  I thought of the Salvation Army and the Home Sweet Home Mission--the latter stuck in my mind.  The day I decided to go to the
mission, I received a small leaflet in the mail telling of God's love and the plan of salvation (very easy reading).  That afternoon I went to
the mission and gave the receptionist  the money and leaflet, explaining my mission , and that whoever received the money must read the
leaflet and pass it on to someone else.  I also said that " God loves them, and understands"  She thanked me and said "That's what it's
all about, isn't it"?
 
I left  with a prayer that whoever received this would be encouraged and look to God for help and strength.
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I was a visitor on Sunday at Prairieview. To my surprise, i was told even visitors should take an envelope. It said: Use this money to bless someone else.
 
I choose to give it to Henry, who is a chronic schizophrenic that comes to our church regularly. He stated last night,when we took him home, that he liked to buy: "watermelon every once in a while" at the local grocery shop near him, when he had money. Now he will have $10, to buy watermelon.
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We put the seed money with some other funds and purchased groceries for the Gridley Food Bank.
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I took the money I received and help purchase some school supplies for a girl at school.  The interesting things was that when I told the school secretary what I wanted to do, she pitched in her own money to make sure all the cost was covered for the supplies!
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I've been blessed by the Caring Bridge website that helps families/individuals with medical issues stay in touch with regular journal updates.  I donated my ten dollars to the Caring Bridge ministry.
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We combined our money together added to it and purchased food for the Livingston County food pantry (Pontiac).
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We puzzled for a while about who needed our help with the money the church gave us.  We prayed about it, and felt the Lord's leading to give to a person in the community.  This person has multiple problems with kids, parents, employment, etc. 
   So we added to what the church gave us, and got a food gift certificate, a gift certificate for gas, and had $10.00 left over, which we left as cash.  When we gave the money and gift certificates, we gave instructions for the $10.00 to be used on the person who received the gift certificates, not another family member, so that it could be used for something that person felt would lift their spirits the most. 
    Our recipient was delighted with the gift certificates and the money, and even more the knowledge that the church has been praying for his or her situations and cares about that person.  It produced attendance at church and a thank-you to the church for their prayers, besides the obvious lifting of that person's spirits.  It is a great feeling to know that people are praying for you, and that people care about what's happening to you.  The monetary gifts were appreciated, but the love represented by the gifts is what lifts the spirits, and makes a person feel like they can continue on.  That's what this person told us.  So to us, this was an experiment that paid big rewards.
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I chose to give the money to a young couple with three small boys, this is the first year they plan to have a vegetable garden. When I gave them the $10. for garden seeds and supplies, I also gave them one of our church brochures. They seemed to be touched.
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Just wanted to let you know what we did with the $20.00 we received in Church a couple weeks ago. My wife has a Niece in Tennessee that has recently lost her job, and is struggling by herself, to raise her two small children. We couldn't think of anyone who could use the money more than her at this difficult time in her life, so we sent it to her, (anonymously, of course)  We would like to thank you and the Church for the generosity, and rest assured the money will be a real blessing to our Niece and her children.
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We gave our reverse offering to the Pharmacy to apply it to a family who owed on their drug bill; the father had been laid off;  Alan at the pharmacy was very helpful in his recommendation.
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I gave my $10+ went to a twin sized soft warm blanket for my former 1st grade teacher (now a hospice patient) at age 102.
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We have been noticing the homeless in various places for some time now and didn't give very much in fear for what they may use it .  When we got this money we decided to give it to Home Sweet Home Mission in Bloomington where they feed needy people on a regular basis.  We delivered it right there late afternoon and saw the people waiting in the yard for their free evening meal.  We pray that some good will come out of this and perhaps some changes made.
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I was able to finally use the reverse money that I received.  I was shopping in the Aldi store this week and when Iwas putting my groceries on the check out belt, the clerk and an  elderly man were discussing which of his groceries they had to put back because he didn't have enough money to pay it all.  The man was very thin and stooped over and walked with a cane.  The clerk and him were deciding to put the meat back when I offered to pay with the $10.00 I received.  At first he didn't want to take the offer, but finally agreed.  He told me he was 92 and never ever had to have anyone finish paying for his groceries and went on to say "we are living in hard times and was sure we haven't seen the worst of it."  I was glad I could help him out and wondered if I'd ever see him again.
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