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 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. 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! 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. As we walked home after church, we sang all the way.
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. 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. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much.
Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor.
We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, "Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?"
We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich people in this church."
Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100." We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on, I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!
(From a sermon by Dave McFadden, "The Way God Works" 1/13/2009)
Related Sermon Illustrations
Contributed by A. Todd Coget on Feb 27, 2004
Citation: N.T. Wright in For All God’s Worth. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 12.] We live in a world full of people struggling to be, or at least to appear, strong in order not to be weak; and we ...read more
Contributed by Davon Huss on Mar 10, 2003
My child arrived just the other day He came to the world in the usual way But there planes to catch And bills to pay He learned to walk while I was away And he talkin’ ’fore I new it And as he grew he’d say, "I’m gonna be like you, Dad; You know, I’m gonna be ...read more
Contributed by Michael Mccartney on Jul 15, 2004
Marty Williams a Pastor of Family Ministries asks the question that we all must ask ourselves today, “Am I Teachable?” He has 12 thoughts to help us discover if we are teachable: 1. I am willing to listen more than talk. 2. I admit when I am mistaken. 3. I observe before acting on a ...read more
Contributed by A. Todd Coget on Feb 27, 2004
[Beauty’s True Source, Citation: Jim Congdon] A jarring TV commercial didn’t say a word. It simply shows a series of people who have one thing in common—a nasty injury or scar. There’s a cowboy with a huge scar around his eye, and something wrong with the eye itself; a fellow with a bulbous ...read more
Contributed by Ken Gilmore on Jul 7, 2004
After three years of research, Indiana University sociologist Donna Eder has identified an important dynamic involved in gossip. Eder discovered that the initial negative statement was not the starting point for gossip. The critical turning point was found in the response to the initial negative ...read more
Contributed by Jeff Van Wyk on Feb 2, 2013
To be a good steward we must not waste what has been given to us. We must invest what has been given to us and must show a return for it.We are given resources according to our individual abilities. We are all different. It is a fact that some people are
Contributed by Jeff Van Wyk on Apr 13, 2013
One false concept is that poverty has some mysterious refining qualities. Some believe that it is spiritual to be poor. That is not the way God lives and neither does He want us to live that way. Just look how He blessed Abraham. The Bible teaches us that