Pastor Ron’s Corner

Pastor Ron’s Corner

THE RICH FAMILY IN OUR CHURCH

’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy, 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 5 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. Then 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 baby sat for everyone we could. For

15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We make

$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 so 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 girls put in a $20. 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 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 fork or the spoon that

night. We had two knives which 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 that I didn’t 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 we were poor. I decided I could quit school since I had finished the

eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time.

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. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way.

Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a

missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried

bricks, but they need 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.

 

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