I paid my idiot tax
Proof I paid the tax.

Proof I paid the tax.

Yes. I did it.

I looked at that 1.6 Billion dollar prize for the Mega Millions draw and said to myself “Ok, I’ll buy a ticket.” My three kids laughed at me because they have been taught that the odds of winning the lottery are so rare you might as well throw that money spent away. The idiot tax.

Inevitably though, the conversation always turns to what we would do with the money if we won. And it is amazing how fast that money can be spent. Houses, cars, education, taking care of family and many other options. I suspect it is a pretty common conversation being held all over the country today.

“We can finally afford to be generous!”

That’s a statement I fully believe is repeated by a lot of folks when they consider winning the lottery. They want to be generous with their money but at their current financial state they do not see a path to making it happen. All that needs to happen is for them to become wealthy.

But what is wealthy? One of the most powerful websites I have found to consider our wealth is www.globalrichlist.com. I strongly encourage you to take a moment to go through the exercise of visiting the site, entering your annual income and finding out how wealthy you are compared to the entire world. For example, I entered $60,000 as an annual income which is typically used as the lower end of middle class in the USA.

Results for $60,000/yr wage from http://www.globalrichlist.com

Results for $60,000/yr wage from http://www.globalrichlist.com

Do those results change your perspective on how wealthy you truly are right now?

Perhaps it is our priorities that need to change when it comes to generosity.

The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44 NIV)

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

What is it that we are taught from a young age about this story from the Bible? Our generosity is more about sacrifice than the amount given. It is the heart behind the gift and not the size. How many of us truly have taken that lesson from acknowledgement in our minds that it is true to a demonstration of obedience? There are very few of us living in the USA and Canada that cannot find a way to give more.

Why not try being a little more generous? You know what I know for a fact will happen? You won’t notice that the money is gone. I cannot explain how God does it, but whenever my family has pushed ourselves to give a little more on our limited budget we have never gone without whatever it was that we were worried we would not have. Rent gets paid. Food is purchased. Cars have gas. School fees are taken care of. Every. Single. Time.

You can afford to be generous.

Give 25

Do you want to have a laugh? Go visit this article about 10 Weird Kickstarter campaigns that got funded.

Crowdfunding is something that the world is discovering for raising capital to pursue projects. You have an idea, you need financial capital, so you ask people to each give a small piece of the total cost and before you know it the project is funded.

(Fun fact: missionaries have been using crowd funding for years as their method of raising support!)

What if you could join a crowdfunding campaign towards a worthy project? Not for the creation of an ostrich pillow or an inflatable sculpture of a legendary singer, but something that would change the world. Your small gift could be combined with hundreds of others to cause big impact for people who need it.

That’s the heart of what we do at The 25 Group. We collect small gifts, usually of $25 and combine them to support worthy projects being done by Christian ministries around the world. Our team locates these projects, gets to know the people behind them and what their passions are and then invites you, our audience of partners to give to see one more project funded that helps spread the Gospel of Jesus through word and deed.

The Give 25 campaign is our way of inviting you to get involved with us leading up to Thanksgiving and on to the year end to raise money for two ministries to drill water wells. You may not be able to get to India to share the Gospel in a village that has never heard it. But your $25 gift puts you on the team of church planters entering a new village, drilling a well to provide clean water and then proclaiming that Jesus is Lord.

Is that something you want to be a part of?

Then join us this winter. Give $25. Start your journey towards greater generosity. Then invite your friends to also give $25. Make this a movement of people learning that they can afford to be generous and seeing the world changed by the simple act of financial sacrifice.

John's Story
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Outside of a bustling city in the country of Liberia, Africa sits a small hospital that has become home to hundreds of patients suffering from leprosy. While many have only heard of leprosy as a medical condition found in scripture, it is a hard pill to swallow in knowing that it is a curable disease that still exists today. However, in poverty stricken countries such as Liberia, medical resources aren’t as accessible. While visiting the hospital to capture stories of patients, the first person I encountered was John. John is an elderly man that is suffering from extreme wounds caused by the disease and yet, there is something different about his story.

As a humanitarian photographer, I constantly seek to represent my subjects with dignity and joy despite their current circumstances but at times it is hard. It is hard to witness suffering and brokenness and yet find joy and hope in the midst of such despair. However, with determination I approached John as I would any individual - eager to hear his story and share it with the world. I walked up to John, shook his hand where fingers once resided and asked him his name. Following a unique warm welcome and a few grins, I asked if I could take his photo and that is when his story becomes different. To my surprise, John agreed, lifted his hands with confidence, and smiled.

It was in this moment that an overwhelming realization hit me -there is so much to be learned from the least of these. While society has chosen to ostracize and condemn those who are poor, ill, and different, John challenged me to ask the question, “What does it look like to have joy in the midst of our suffering?” As an 24 year old American who grew up in a broken home, I had become convinced that I had a proper understanding of both suffering and joy - until I met John.

I have come to believe that there is a deep level of understanding and reliance on God that can only be obtained through leaning in and learning from the least of these around us. Whether that is shaking the hand of a leper across the world, inviting in a homeless individual for a warm meal, or befriending a vulnerable child who feels alone - there is always an opportunity available to restore dignity and learn from others if we are willing.

As our motivating scripture from Matthew 25 states, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Who is around you today that you could lean in and learn from? And are you willing to step out in bravery to hear what they have to teach you?

Brooke Hill