How A Simple Act Of Kindness Inspired A Movement

As I shared in my last post, I’m kind of a coffee addict.

Some people (MaryBeth Fortner) would say I’m also an Internet-smartphone-Apple-Facebook-Twitter-LinkedIn addict.  I like to say I’m an “admirer and eager user of technology.”  But that’s me.

Well, one day last year my eagerness led me to a website called I Like Giving.

In the creator’s words it’s “…a campaign to inspire generous living. It is a collection of stories from around the world about people who have done the unexpected without expecting anything in return.”

Many of the stories are told through videos that are incredibly moving and beautifully produced.

One my favorites is called, in all its irony,  “I Like iPad.”  It tells the story of Frances, a young woman, who gives up something she needs, or thought she needed, to her cousin who has autism.

Frances first learned about her cousin’s condition from her grandmother who said her cousin was struggling to put words together and communicate at an age he should have been able to.

Holding out hope that perhaps he was just a slow learner, time went by.  After close to two years, it was clear her cousin was autistic.

Not knowing what the future held for him but knowing the importance of communication, she started researching.

She came upon an article about a school that was using iPads and specific apps to help kids with autism communicate.

From that point forward, Frances said every time she used her own iPad, she thought about her cousin.  So, one day she drove to the post office, boxed it up, and sent it to him.

After word got around, people began donating iPads to Frances to give to other children with autism.

She said as the story got told it wasn’t about her giving something, rather it was about the kids receiving it and it caused this movement of overflowing generosity.

In Frances’ words, “It’s what I was supposed to be doing.”

Giving.

That was what Frances said she was supposed to be doing.  Not for accolades, praise or prizes.  Just giving to someone who needed something more than she did.  This is the type of giving Jesus says we all should practice.

1 “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give it to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so your giving may be in secret.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)

Yes, Frances made it happen. You can watch her do so here.

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How You Can Make It Happen Like The Widows

I have a confession to make.  I’m an addict.  A coffee addict.

I’m also kind of a coffee snob.  I mean if it was up to me my church would serve freshly ground, dark roast, Arabica bean coffee in a French press after service every Sunday.

Well, about a year ago and a half ago, my love for coffee led me to the website of an organization called Three Avocados, a nonprofit coffee company in Missouri.

I began reading about it, and the more I read the more excited I became.  You see, this is no ordinary coffee company as you may suspect from its name – Three Avocados.

The thing is their name has nothing to do with coffee.  But it has everything to do with Three Avocados’ purpose, which is to provide clean drinking water to people in Uganda.

How it all began

The story of Three Avocados begins in the humble village of Bulopa, Uganda.  Bulopa, like many other village there, is very remote and extremely poor.

There is a small church there that amounts to nothing more than a few sticks in the ground and some benches.  A group of people on a mission trip had been invited to worship with the people of Bulopa.

As the offering basket was passed around, a poor widow placed three avocados in the basket. It was literally all the food she had.

You see, in Uganda, the pastors don’t receive any pay. The food they eat is given through the offering as they visit different villages. That widow had given all she had to ensure someone else could eat. Talk about faith.

The widow’s offering

It was that simple gift that inspired the visitors. They left Uganda brainstorming ways to ensure the poor throughout the world are cared for and are never forgotten.  And thus Three Avocados was born.

The widow gave all she had.  Sound familiar perhaps?

If you’ve read the story of the widow’s offering in the gospel of Mark, it should.

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.

42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small cooper coins, a worth only a fraction of a penny. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.

44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Yes, the widow made it happen.

Question: How are you making it happen?