Last week I wrote a post on ministering to others during this tough economy. A friend and colleague, Rev. Erin Potter Kaye, called me a couple of days later to share a great creative response to someone’s financial need. Here is her story in my first guest post. Thanks Erin for sharing!
Last Wednesday I read your post on the Practical Disciple and was inspired to share a story with you. The day before, Tuesday, I was supposed to be at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center, near Little Rock, AR, on a private planning retreat. However, a saint of the church had passed away the previous Friday, and I was honored to be asked to preside at the funeral on Tuesday morning. Afterward, I went back to the church office to wrap up a few things before heading back to Ferncliff for the rest of the week. While I was there, my secretery ushered in a visitor, ‘Penny’, whom I had met before, and helped with a utility bill. Penny had moved to Arkansas from Atlanta when she needed to be with an ailing parent. Then, she herself had fallen gravely ill, and ended up in a coma for three weeks. While in her coma, she experienced God, and saw and talked with her mother, who had passed away some years before. She woke up and found her family planning her funeral.
Tuesday, when she showed up in my office, she handed me a small bag of change and said, ‘This is all I have left for my business, and I need some things to happen today. God told me to sow this somewhere, and I didn’t know where to go, so I came to you, because you didn’t laugh when I told you my story (about being in a coma and experiencing God and her mother). So I need for God to work some things out for me today, I need to know that I’m going the right way with my business, and so I’m doing what God told me to do.’ I took the change, and spent some time talking to Penny. It turns out she had been so involved with organizing and running a local community-wide celebration that she had not been able to devote as much time as she could to her business (a consulting group with three employees that provides assistance with social networking and internet websites). Her water and electricity bills were due within the next few days, and there was no hope of money coming in for at least two weeks.
I had been thinking about getting our church more involved with social networking, but had not had the time or energy to devote to it, so this was a God-send for me personally. I called the chair of the committe who manages our publicty budget and got permission to hire Penny’s company for three months. This paid about half of her utility bills. Then, I used some discretionary funds to pay the other half, telling her that I was ‘sowing’ these funds with her, and that if they came back, that would be great, but if they didn’t, I would consider them well spent.
Only then did I tell her that I wasn’t supposed to be there that day, that I was only there because someone had a funeral. We were both a little overwhelmed in that moment, both by God’s providence and by the enormity of what we were able to accomplish.
I thank God for placing Penny in my life on that day at that time, and I am thankful God helped me to see a creative and useful way to help her and to help our church.
By the way, the change she handed me totalled 192 pennies and about 5 dimes, nickels, and quarters, for a grand total of$2.50. I’m still pondering where to sow this precious gift, but am sure God will tell me where, when the time comes.
God is good!
Again, thank you Erin for living faithfully. God bless your ministry and God bless Penny. Erin Potter Kaye is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Camden, Arkansas and I am delighted to have her as my very first guest post.