Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Rich Family In Church

Just wanted to share a short story that touched me and my husband.

It's called The Rich Family In Our Church by Eddie Ogan. (Eddie is short for Edna, I believe, and is a female.)


I’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 4 of us knew what it was to do without many things.

Dad had died 5 years before, leaving Mom with 7 kids to rear and no money. By 1946 my older sisters were married, and my brothers had left home.

A month before Easter, the pastor announced that a special offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

At home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes to live on 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 the electric bill. Darlene got as many house-and yard-cleaning jobs as possible and baby-sat for everyone she could. For 15 cents, we could buy enough cotton loops to sell for $1. We made $20 on potholders. 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 we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, each Sunday the pastor reminded us to save for the offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us 3 crisp $20 bills and a $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, for we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church!

Sunday morning rain was pouring and we didn’t have an umbrella. 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 but it came apart. 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, yet I felt so rich.

When the offering was taken we were sitting on the 2nd row from the front. Mom put in the $10, 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 the fried potatoes!

Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him, 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: 3 – 20’s, a 10 and 17- 1 dollar bills. Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk; we 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 the silverware and to see whether we got the fork or the spoon that night. We had 2 knives which we passed around to whoever needed them.

I knew we didn’t have a lot of things other people had, but I had never thought we were poor. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we were 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 9th grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school thought we were poor. I decided I could quit school since I had finished the 8th grade and that was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. It got dark and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school, came home, and no one talked much.

Finally, on Saturday, Mom asked what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We had never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church, 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 who talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun-dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $1,000 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor folk?

We looked at each other and smiled for the 1st time in a week. Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene, who gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy to put 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 always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus.

3 comments:

  1. What's so interesting about this story is that they gave the bulk of the money they received back. Yet they were considered poor. Perhaps material wealth causes us to hold on to our money, not give it freely. Interesting story.

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  2. I love this and yet it breaks my heart too.

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  3. Yes, I read this to my oldest son and he said it reminded him of the widow's mite- giving all you have rather than just out of your abundance.

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