“The space between birth and death is full of opportunities to be creative and joyously sacrificial for the benefit of people in need.”’
One of the joys I have in my work with ERDO is connecting people’s desire to love and serve God with opportunities for sharing their resources. When people really bond with a cause and find a ministry like ERDO’s that aligns with their desire to help meet human need in developing countries, the energy and enthusiasm are tangible. I am thrilled when people get excited about making a ministry gift and helping fulfil ERDO’s biblical call: “Do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).
Sometimes the donations we receive include small notes of encouragement for the staff here at ERDO. I especially enjoy seeing the wonderful cards and notes that supporters send to their sponsored children to reach out and develop their relationship. I don’t see all of them, but the occasional one really touches the hearts of our ChildCARE Plus team, and I get to share in the moment. Occasionally someone will send a musical card, and oh my, those do get our attention, and usually a laugh or two as they ring out in song.
There are times, however, when my work requires that a box of tissues be close at hand. These are times when calls or letters take me intimately into the lives of donors who are experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one. In the past few years, an increasing number of people have chosen to honour their late spouses, siblings, children and parents with memorials that benefit the lives of others. It has been my privilege to serve such individuals and families on behalf of ERDO when they are working through their grief and loss as they seek a place of peace and celebration.
I’ve seen great blessings come out of these memorial gifts: water wells, the sponsorship of multiple children through ChildCARE Plus, a classroom roof, and many other gifts. Some of the pain of loss turns into joy when the celebration of a life is transformed into something that helps another life—or several lives. When I’m able to share a final report on the good that has been done through gifts given by a family, either through an estate or through funds collected in lieu of flowers, I feel like I’ve been blessed by serving as a connection point between several lives. That’s when I truly love my role as a bridge builder between people in need and passionate philanthropists in God’s kingdom.
While I’ve not had a face-to-face meeting with people at the receiving end of a memorial gift, what I did experience earlier this year in Winnipeg was a chance to meet with one of the donors of a memorial water well. As we sat down to tea, Mrs. Laura Murphy recounted how her late husband, Rev. Glenn Murphy, was ordained by the PAOC in 1962. Reverend and Mrs. Murphy pastored in Fairview and Eureka River in the Peace River area of Northern Alberta, and in Provost and Metiskow in southeastern Alberta. Approaching retirement, they resumed pastoring in Gladstone, Manitoba. Reverend Murphy went on to glory in 2001.
As our visit—which, to my delight, involved a devotional time—went on, Mrs. Murphy shared that a particular sermon had challenged her thinking and resulted in her first phone call to me about creating a well in her late husband’s memory. As she recounted, “A guest speaker’s concluding message touched my heart when he asked us to sacrifice a little bit more to make someone else’s life better. I thought about this and what I could do.” As Christmas 2014 approached, Mrs. Murphy shared a plan with her children and grandchildren. She asked them to help her create a well in memory of their beloved dad and grandfather instead of giving her Christmas gifts.
After working through the details with Mrs. Murphy about where the well could be created, and how and when it would occur, the passionate generosity of the Murphy family members was translated into “doing good” for other people. Since there are teachers in their family, it was a wonderful outcome that a needed well site was identified on a school property.
Now the Tala Christian School well in southern Bangladesh is operational and serving the children at the school, teachers and parents with fresh, clean water for drinking and hand washing. As Mrs. Murphy saw the photos of the well, and of children drinking clean water, it was my joy to see her smile. Her family’s tribute to her husband and her desire to serve God were providing a precious gift for children.
The reasons for giving can range from divine inspiration to grief, or even the celebration of a joyous occasion. We were amazed last spring when lead pastor Brent and Nataley Hyttenrauch of Markstay Pentecostal Church in Ontario were expecting their baby and posted on our Facebook page that they were having a “guess the gender of our baby” fundraiser. Pastor Hyttenrauch’s post communicated that they would tell people who donated to ERDO what the gender of their child would be. The couple set a goal to raise $500 for ERDO and ended up exceeding that with a gift of $641 for food programs. The legacy they’ve left to their daughter is incredible as her arrival on earth has already brought nourishment and comfort to people in need. In their words: “We’re so honoured that people would help us help others in need and begin a legacy of generosity over this child’s life.”
The space between birth and death is full of opportunities to be creative and joyously sacrificial for the benefit of people in need. It is my pleasure to have a small part in serving families and individuals in connecting their passion to make a difference with the needs ERDO serves. As each well gets dug, each child is sponsored, and each cup of clean water is consumed, my joy overflows. Thanks to all of you who have lived out Isaiah 1:17 and Matthew 10:42 (NLT)—“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
ERDO (Emergency Relief & Development Overseas) is the humanitarian agency of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ERDO is involved in four key areas: Crisis Response, Food Assistance, ChildCARE Plus (Child Sponsorship), and Community Development. Carol Froom is ERDO’s director of resource development.