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Words of Abundance

Your Host, Randy Petrick
  • Writer's pictureRandy Petrick

THE DAY MY WALLET GOT CONVERTED

Updated: Mar 28

I COULD FEEL THEIR DESPERATE PRAYERS

…AND THOSE PRAYERS CHANGED MY HEART



Hands of a man and woman across a table from each other working on a budget with pens, calculator, and charts. His eyeglasses are in the foreground.

For many years, I felt I needed to save and protect all the money that came my way. It seemed I was being responsible in doing so – after all, my wife and I had a limited supply, right? We were making specific salaries and knew exactly how much income we could expect every month. And, via our budget, we also knew where most of our income was designated. Unfortunately, the budget was tight, and we didn’t have a lot of excess available to give. “It’s really difficult,” I thought, “to be generous when you are constrained by a limited income.”


And from a strictly human point of view, I suppose that was true. But (and I’m speaking only for myself here) I was leaving God and the spiritual side of money completely out of the equation. As I heard someone say once, “I had been converted, but my wallet hadn’t.” I was still operating from an owner’s point of view, not that of a steward – “I earned this money, and it is my personal reward for all the hard work I did.”

At the time, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t money I lacked—I lacked a vision. The needs of others around me in the world had yet to become a burden on my heart. I knew the importance of supporting the local church, and I supported a few local charities, but I can’t say I had really handed my wallet to God. Giving just felt blah. It was rote and routine and felt more like a “have to” than a “want to.”


Then came the day I received a solicitation from Food for the Poor (FFTP). It included a multi-page insert with pictures that really broke my heart. Picture after picture showed people living on bare ground under tarps, plastic sheeting, and cardboard. It was easy to discern that these people had no possessions, very little food, and owned only well-worn and threadbare clothing. I sat and looked at those pictures for a very long time. (And mentally compared what I was seeing with my own fine home, plentiful food, good health, and nice clothing.) I knew without a doubt that the people I was seeing had to be praying desperate prayers.


As I turned the pages and read the narratives, the author described not only the poverty-ridden areas they were working in but also the various steps involved in FFTP's work in those places. The end results looked remarkable! People in need went from tents and tarps to simple one or two-room homes with floors, solid walls, and sturdy roofs. They had food and clothing, clean water, and medical care as well. Best of all, to my mind at least, they had also received the tools, resources, and training to become self-sufficient.


Even so, the brochure still left some important questions in my mind. Was this all a very passive process for these vulnerable people? Or were they personally involved in all the steps that led to ending their poverty, obtaining safe housing, having plenty of food and safe drinking water, and determining their own career paths? The brochure wasn’t clear on the processes, so I picked up my phone and called FFTP. As it turned out, the woman who answered the phone was a person who had been personally helped by the organization and could tell me first-hand about the process.


Almost immediately, she put my mind at ease. “Yes,” she said, “FFTP does an exceptional job of involving the recipients in the process. They work with in-country partner groups,” she continued, “to monitor, evaluate, and prioritize area needs and then have extensive interviews with potential recipients to evaluate their personal needs and interests.” To give me an additional frame of reference, she went on to say, “Some [people] are interested in and trained in carpentry, for example, and even help build their own new homes once they are trained. Others might be trained in agriculture, animal husbandry, cooking, sewing, or other forms of micro-enterprise. Recipients are involved in every step along the way.” Excellent!


The written narrative in the FFTP brochure and the words from one of their “recipients” moved my heart like never before. Suddenly, I had a vision. I wanted to be part of helping others find dignity and opportunity. My heart broke for those who were desperate for food, clean water, safe shelter, and the tools to make their own way in the world.


A woman's praying hands atop an open Bible.

It also became evident that as the people moved away from being physically hungry, many became hungry for something else. They were hungry to understand what motivated people like those in FFTP to spend their time and money helping to transform lives. They were hungry to learn about God.


Indeed, I realized I was hungry too…hungry to help. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be an anonymous hand behind the scenes helping families move from squalor to safe, healthy places of self-sufficiency…not to mention into the arms of our loving Father?


The FFTP brochure gave me a special love for people I hadn’t even met. That love was all it took to open a path that led right into my wallet. Seeing and understanding something God was doing in the world and wanting to be part of it changed everything! Now, my wallet has been converted too. Giving is no longer rote and routine for me. It is now an ongoing series of joyful opportunities.


I love reflecting forward the love I receive from God. Remember the thought I expressed up front that it is difficult to be generous when you have a limited income? It’s a lie. Consider this: It's all God’s money anyway. If He wants to give you more or make your remaining dollars stretch further than normal, He easily can.


A zoomed in photo of a $100 bill sitting on a wood table

Once you catch a vision for a piece of what God wants to do in our world and start being part of it, you can let go of your fears of having “only” a limited income. God has no limits. He will meet your needs. Your wallet will prove it, just like mine did.



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