A Widow's Gift (part 1)

January 5, 2012

I love the times when stories from the Bible come alive right in front of our eyes. It’s often hard to identify with the life of Christ in the modern, developed world in which most of us live. During my two years in Kenya, though, I was occasionally exposed to stories that seemed to more closely reflect the reality of life that Jesus talked about from personal experience.  This is one of those stories – I originally recorded it in May 2010, but just

Julia Wangare is a 70 year-old woman who lives with one of her sons and several grandchildren – her husband left her many years ago. She has 8 other children, and she is HIV-positive. Julia is very poor, and has struggled greatly with the infections that come along with HIV/AIDS. Though she is looking forward to learning more about small businesses and projects like keeping rabbits, she currently lives off of the food and resources that her children and grandchildren provide for her. In short, Julia has no money. None.

Julia is also a committed member of a CFA partner church and a faithful believer in Christ. She is one of the most appreciative clients in the center, and she is always ready with a word of thanks and encouragement for the CFA counselors at the center. A couple of months ago, the church leaders decided to build a small building on the property for children’s Sunday school classes, and – in typical Kenyan fashion – they held a “harambee,” or a fundraiser, to get the project started. As I’ve mentioned, Julia has no money, but she desperately wanted to help the church and went home in search of anything to give. On the day of the harambee, Julia showed up carrying a few wooden planks that could be used for the building – planks that had previously formed the frame of the bed she slept on every night. Julia had woken up in the morning, taken apart her bed, placed her mattress on the dirt floor, and cheerfully brought the wooden pieces as her gift to the church.

In Luke 21, Jesus talks about a widow who gave a small offering to the temple treasury, commenting that her gift was worth more than all the others because it came out of her poverty. It was a gift that required sacrifice – a gift that came not out of excess, but out of shortage. Julia’s story exemplifies how Jesus’ message is lived out in reality. It’s humbling to me, but also inspiring. Julia might not have a bed anymore, but she has the joy of knowing that she obeyed the calling of Christ and truly gave more than she could afford.

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.'”

Have you ever seen a parable or Bible story come to life?  Ever experienced an example of true sacrifice?  I would love to hear about it in the comments!