Thinking Out Loud

January 9, 2012

Our Post-Christmas Credit Card Crisis

Each year we say that instead of giving gifts to each other, we’re going to do something significant to help the third world, and a couple of years ago we got more serious about this and began a Christmas tradition of donating to water projects — the repair and restoration of fresh water wells — through the organization Partners International.

This year Partners sent us a catalog containing a variety of projects to which we could donate, and I decided to let the family have greater input into this than in previous years.  The various needs  in the Canadian organization’s mailing called Hope in Action were divided into different categories such as,

  • Children and Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Justice Issues
  • Women’s issues
  • Christian Witness
  • Health and Wellness

while Partners in the U.S. has a greater variety of potential giving themes in their catalog called Harvest of Hope.

The family seemed especially interested in projects which keep young women out of the sex trade overseas, or projects which help them not end up there to begin with.  One of these is listed on my receipt as item 8007C — Mahima Home — A Refuge for Girls Rescued From the Sex Trade — $300.00

We selected three projects that were certainly more expensive than our previous investment in water wells, and then added one more to top it off to an even number, a number that was larger than I expected when we first sat down around the computer.  “Oh well, it’s only money;” I remember saying at the time.

But then, like so many other families that overextend themselves over the holidays, we got a credit card bill which contained both our Partners projects and our regular expenses, not to mention the Christmas gifts that we actually gave.

And it’s all due on Friday.

“I think we need prayer;” I said to my wife when she read me the bill.

I then told her, “I think we should ask the pastor for prayer because I’ve run up our credit card on prostitutes.”

It would be funny if it were funny.

It got me thinking however, what about the person who does find themselves with an impossible credit card bill because they did spend too much on hookers?  You’ve got the sin of fornication combined with the sin of overspending, and they don’t cancel each other out.

I might just leave the prayer request at our church’s prayer email address anyway.  We’ll call it increasing global awareness.

February 18, 2011

When Better Isn’t Necessarily Better

Filed under: Church, evangelism — Tags: , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:46 am

I live an hour east of Toronto, Canada in a town of about 16,000 which is somewhat twinned to a town of 18,500.  Between the two towns, not a lot happens, especially if we’re talking events of interest to the Christian community.  So when World Vision offered to include our area on its recent “Couples Night Out” tour, it was an offer not to be refused. The event featured Christian author and humorist Phil Callaway who probably spoke for at least an hour, but could have gone longer without anyone noticing.  And all for only $5 per couple.

Phil Callaway

Because Callaway is such a great communicator, the sponsoring local church decided to hold the event in a neutral auditorium, in this case the hotel next door; figuring that this would make it easier for people to invite “their non-churched friends” than having the event in a church building.  I don’t know to what extent people bought into that concept, but the event sold out all 400 seats, and Phil’s spoken content was, in one spot, definitely evangelistic.

Then someone stepped up with an idea to go one better, and use the banquet facilities of the hotel to offer a selection of desserts; a big change from an intermission that would, at best, consist of drinking coffee in a chuch lobby.  The dessert buffet was a gigantic and unexpected spread; even at 9:00 PM, I could have skipped dinner and simply waited for this.

It was a great evening, which also featured Jay Calder, who I can’t describe except to say that “classical guitarist” is too limiting to define what he does with the instrument.

But there was one catch. I mean, if you read this blog regularly, you knew there has to be a catch, right?

The intermission is the time for responding to the World Vision appeal for child sponsorships. That is the primary purpose of the evening. And the organizers were “disappointed” in the results at this particular event.

That’s because during the time we were supposed to be thinking about our response to the needs of hungry children, we were filling our stomachs with — among other things — chocolate dipped strawberries, bread pudding and banana crepes.

While I’m not a huge fan of the organization, I keep thinking that we went home full while World Vision came up empty.

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