A teen in our church youth group went to the city tree lighting ceremony last year and her heart was moved to provide for the homeless people she had seen there. This year she rallied her fellow youth group members, and the church body, to stock bags full of items to feed and keep the homeless in the city warm during the winter.
I took this opportunity to teach my younger children the value of giving. I had them do some chores around the house in order to earn money with which to purchase items for the bags. All was going well, until we got into the car with the items we had purchased. One of the twins began to put on the beanie he had purchased for the bags. I turned to him and said, “You do know that the beanie is not for you?”
His smile turned upside down really quickly, and he almost started to cry. The other twin looked sad as well. I explained that they already had their own beanies, but there were people that did not have any beanies at all. These people did not even have any homes and they had to sleep on the streets all winter. I had already explained all of this to them before, but it obviously needed to be restated, with beanies in hand. I asked them how it would feel to sleep on the street all winter. The older kids also explained to them that it would be very cold. I am not sure if they truly understood, but they sadly put the beanies away.
Each child then put the items they had purchased in the Christmas bags, which were to be handed out on Black Friday. We prayed as a family each day that the Lord would prepare the people to receive the bags and that each person would get exactly the items that they needed.
On Black Friday, we headed down to the city. Each bag was handed out in a matter of minutes. While hanging out in the area to witness, a man came up to us and said, “I have been out here for a while and know these guys and I wanted to let you know that each one of them got exactly what they needed in those bags.” Praise God!
My 4-year-old twins may still believe that being in need is not having a Nintendo DS or the latest Disney toy, but this experience was one step closer to giving the taste of reality beyond the plush life they live at home. It has become more and more prevalent that more of these “learning to give” sessions are necessary for all of them. The Goodwill trips are too abstract, and there is no sacrifice in giving up extra toys. Having to work hard for the money it cost to purchase necessities for those in need is a start in instilling Godly character, but ultimately I pray that caring for those in need is a quality that will come from each of their hearts as a result of God’s love for them.
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
How do you teach your children to give?