Our church building hosts two church congregations – an English congregation and a Chinese congregation. While we are interconnected, I have little contact with our Chinese congregation. It’s a small congregation, but the impact they’ve had on me since I started working in the church office, has been BIG!
I have seen this little congregation repeatedly giving generously, cheerfully, and abundantly, with whatever they have, as an offering to others and as an offering to God.
Every Sunday morning, a small group of elderly Chinese congregants sit patiently by the back doors, quietly chatted and cheerfully greeting the English congregants as we head home from our service. They are waiting for a few volunteers to drive them home; the drivers have to make more than one trip.
Every week, a small handful of Chinese members meet on Thursday mornings for devotions and a potluck. Every week, someone brings me a small plate of food from their meagre offerings, for my lunch. Usually there is a hardboiled egg, some chicken, some steamed rice, and a slice of the softest pound cake with walnuts. Occasionally there are items that I can’t identify…but I eat every bite with thanksgiving. If they aren’t having their usual meeting, they remember to call the day before so I am prepared and I won’t go hungry.
The English congregation has hosted a few mid-week potlucks too. Usually these gatherings are well-attended and the food is plentiful…but I’ve never been offered a bite. I don’t share that as a criticism but to make a point. This little congregation has reminded me of three important things:
- Be aware of those serving around you, especially those who are work quietly in the background. It could be the lady behind the counter at the coffee shop, a cab driver, or a crossing guard.
- Even the smallest gestures can make a lasting impression. Smiles are always free.
- No matter how much or how little you have, there is more than enough to share. Don’t be afraid to make an offering, even one as small as… a grain of rice.
Two years ago, I had a similar reminder from a homeless person I never met. You can read about it in Pocket Change.