The Rich Family in Church
by Eddie Ogan
I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12 and my older sister Darlene was 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.
By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.
When we got home we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $20 on pot holders.
That month was one of the best of our lives. Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.
The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before. That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep.
We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet. But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich.
When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20 bill. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor.
We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our mom and dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor. That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor.
I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed, I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence...Continue reading this sermon illustration (Free with PRO)
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by David Schaal on May 20, 2004
A natural example of this point can be found by looking at the two seas in the Holy Land. The Sea of Galilee freely receives and gives out water. It has an abundance of life, nurturing many different kinds of fish and plant life. The water from the Sea of Galilee is carried by way of the Jordan ...read more
Contributed by Mary Lewis on Aug 6, 2003
When we let go of money, we are letting go of part of ourselves and part of our security. But this is precisely why it is important to do it. It is one way to obey Jesus’ command to deny ourselves.… When we give money, we are releasing a little more of our egocentric selves and a little more of our ...read more
Contributed by Clark Tanner on Oct 18, 2002
DEAD IN UNRIGHTEOUSNESS Several years ago a movie came out called “Death Becomes Her”. I don’t recommend it. It was dark humor at best, but the few funny parts weren’t worth the cost of the movie rental; much less, a theatre ticket. But the basic premise of the movie turns out to be a ...read more
Contributed by Aaron Householder on Sep 30, 2004
John Sutherland Bonnell, the great preacher of a generation ago, has suggested five questions which are useful in evaluating Christian effectiveness and commitment. Look Closely at them to judge your strengths and weaknesses as a disciple of Christ. 1. Does my life witness each day to the power ...read more
Contributed by Robert Robinson on Oct 17, 2005
A Mercedes Benz TV commercial has a camera follow their car as it collides with a cement wall during a safety test. The car comes through the test amazingly well — far less damage to the body than you would expect, and leaving the crash dummy without a mark. A man then interviews the company ...read more