Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Gentle Reminder


Dear Church, Stop Giving Your Crap to the Poor
I was getting ready to leave for a trip to Kenya a couple of years ago when a church emailed and asked if Mercy House had any specific needs. I quickly responded and told them I wanted to give Maureen, our Kenyan Director, an iPhone, so we could communicate during (almost weekly) power outages. I told them if they would buy one instead, we could use the money for other needed items.
On the church’s Facebook feed a few days later, I saw an appeal that said something like, “We want to support a ministry with a used iPhone. If you have an old one you can donate, please let us know.”

I was given an older iPhone a week later. On the ground in Kenya, I realized it wouldn’t hold a charge for more than 10 minutes. The phone was junk.  So, when I left Kenya, I gave Maureen my used one that worked. 

The church contacted me after the trip and asked how Maureen liked her new phone? I told them it was useless and said, “Don’t worry about it. I gave her mine.”  “Oh, we feel badly, please let us replace your phone! We want to buy you a brand new one, an upgrade. You deserve it,” I told them I used my husband’s upgrade and already had a replacement phone. “OK. Instead we would like to write you a $500 check for the inconvenience.”

Give it to Maureen, I said.  And they did.

While the church tried to make it right, I was bothered by the fact they were more than willing to buy me a new phone I didn’t need. I have noticed this mentality permeates the church as a whole: The poor will be happy with our leftovers. They don’t know any better. They live in Africa or Honduras.  They don’t need the latest technology or the best brands like we do. They will appreciate anything we give because something is more than nothing.

Why do we give others—often those in service to the poor or the poor themselves—something we wouldn’t keep or give ourselves?

Somehow collecting clothes for immigrants has become the perfect opportunity to get rid of stuff we don’t want and gathering baby items for new moms is the perfect excuse to toss out stained and worn clothing we wouldn’t dare use again. I’ve packed suitcases with beautiful donations, but mostly I’ve pilfered through piles of junk donated in the name of Jesus.

It’s time to stop giving our crap to the poor.

There’s nothing wrong with used or second-hand. It’s often my first and favorite choice. Many organizations and ministries depend on used gifts. But if we give used, it should be our best. I’m not saying when we clean out older clothes or toys or things we don’t use any longer and donate them—that this is wrong. I am saying if we give it away, it should be something we would use ourselves.

The poor may not have wealth, but they have dignity. I’ve met people without electricity or running water who swept their dirt floors daily, pressed their clothes neatly, walked miles to work on muddy roads, dodging sewage, and never had a speck of dirt on them. They value their own worth.  We should, too.

I’ll never forget meeting a woman in Africa who supported her large family by reselling used clothes from America. But when she held up clothes to show me what was for sale—clothes Americans had donated in clothing drives—they were tattered and stained. I was embarrassed.

Her best depended on our worst.

Just because our donation feels like we are helping, in reality, we could be hurting. Bales of used clothes are sold to African countries for resell and they end up flooding the market and often put local textile businesses and seamstresses out of business.

It’s time to think about not only what we give and how we give it, but also why we give it. Just because it makes us feel better (and cleans out our garage at the same time) doesn’t mean it’s the best for those in need. Perhaps we should look a little deeper into our hearts and wallets when we can say, 'I don’t have money to give to the poor, but I have a lot of stuff'. Maybe we need to buy less stuff, so we have more to give?

“We’re not giving what we’re called to give unless that giving affects how we live—affects what we put on our plate and where we make our home and hang our hat and what kind of threads we’ve got to have on our back. 

Surplus Giving is the leftover you can afford to give.  Sacrificial Giving is the love gift that changes how you live—because the love of Christ has changed you

God doesn’t want your leftovers. God wants your love overtures, your first-overs, because He is your first love.” Ann Voskamp

There have been times over the years I’ve gasped and grinned at the beautiful items I’ve sorted and packed for the impoverished. When we give our best, we are living our best. We are saying with our donation, 'You are valuable'. We are whispering with our gift, 'You are worthy of the best'. We have the opportunity to speak self worth when we give generously.

It’s a promise for them.
It’s a promise for us.

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Proverbs 19:17

The next time we have the opportunity to share what we have with someone who is in need, let’s give from the pile we want to keep, not from the one we want to throw out.

Kirsten Welch  
Oct 6 2017


I was touched by Kirstein's message above, and decided to go a step further to the important message Kirsten shared with us. We rarely, if ever, get to see the faces and the living conditions of those we are 'donating' to whether it be a general donation for the needy, or for those suffering from man created wars, or from conditions following weather disasters, or just to help others who are very needy.  Below are some pictures to gently remind us just WHO these people are - our brothers and sisters of ALL ages and suffering hardships most of us would never experience. Let our hearts and minds be gently moved by their pictures as the pictures can speak loudly and say more than any words I could add here. You are blessed - share those blessings gladly with others - not our throw a ways but that which we treasure.  We are a nation blessed by our God.  Let us freely give what He has generously provided for us that we might be His hands extended.


Matt 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 

Luke 14:13  But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind

Luke 14:21  .... Then the master of the house ... said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

Matt 25:45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (so give your best as if to the Lord Himself!)

May our Lord bless you richly as you bless others!!!!  Amein......


  1. concernedaboutattitudesOctober 19, 2017 at 1:18 AM

    This is not about a church. This is the woman's account of HOW INDIVIDUALS BELIEVE THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING GOOD WHEN THEY 'GIVE' THEIR GARBAGE TO A CAUSE RATHER THAN JUST THROWING THE CRAP OUT IN THE GARBAGE CAN; YOU KNOW, STUFF LIKE YOU MAY HAVE IN YOUR OWN CLOSET - SHIRTS, SHORTS, SLACKS, PAJAMAS, SOCKS, JACKETS THAT HAVE NON-REMOVABLE STAINS AND/OR HOLES, OR ARE STRETCHED OUT SO THEY DON'T FIT CORRECTLY, ETC. FORGET THE 'CHURCH' AND LOOK BEYOND YOUR PERSONAL PREJUDICES AT THE CORE OF WHAT SHE IS SAYING HERE. The writer is saying that a church called her and asked her if there were needs that they could help fill with/by making contributions to all that she was collecting to take/send to Kenya. For pete sake - no one is implying in this article she wrote that the church has to be involved. How immature and limited is that kind of thinking? Look at it this way - your county suffers flooding from a hurricane. People you know that work at a plant several counties away learn of the plight of your flooded county. They call you inquiring as to what is needed - what can they do or contribute to help the people in need? You tell her that the people need clothing, food, shoes, blankets, pillows, cots, etc. So what about that? What if some of those people who respond and contribute goods to help the people in your county attend a church and they organize their church to help with this project and make multiple donations to take care of the needs of those whose homes were flooded out in the hurricane and send them to you? Are you going to be so immature and ungrateful as to refuse their help just because they attend a church? If you were hungry, if your home was flooded, if you had no coat and it is freezing, are you going to turn down someone's offer of a coat or clothing or shoes or food just because you find out that the people of a church donated those goods to help you? Geezzzzz. What the hell is going on in this nation? Grow up. Put your anti-god biases behind you and get on with the picture. You sound like one who should NOT receive any funds from the currency revaluation - you wouldn't know what to do with them or have the heart to help anyone. The point she made was about being concerned, kind and unselfish about helping others - not about what church or person was making the contributions. Nuff said.

    1. JW - you know what you can do with your comments. DO IT post haste.

    2. Hey JW - STFUP - back to you with FULL force AHO. You know where you can go to, also. Make haste. Hasta la vista AHO.