The Rich Family In Church

I'll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12,
and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and
the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died
five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A
month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special
Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to
save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50
pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to
save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. Then we thought that if
we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn't
listen to the radio, we'd save money on that month's electric bill.
Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us

babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to

make three potholders to sell for $1. We made $20 on potholders. That month
was the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night
we'd sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy
having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in
church, so we figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering
would surely be about 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the
pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the
manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our
change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never
had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn't care
that we wouldn't have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering.

We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was
pouring. We didn't own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our
home, but it didn't seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her
shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.
But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the
Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new
clothes and felt rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were
sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and
each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a
surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter
eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in
his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came
back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn't say
a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were
three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn't talk, just sat and
stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling
like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for
anyone who didn't have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of
brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it
was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork
that night. We had two knives that we passed around to whomever needed them.
I knew we didn't have a lot of things that other people had, but I'd never
thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were.

The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be
poor. I didn't like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes
and felt so ashamed. I didn't even want to go back to church. Everyone
there probably already knew we were
poor! I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top
of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew
that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished
the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time.

We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed.
All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked
much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the
money. What did poor people do with money? We didn't know. We'd never
known we were poor. We didn't want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom
said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn't talk on the way.
Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse.

At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in
Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to
buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said,
"Can't we all sacrifice to help these poor people?"

We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week. Mom
reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to
Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in
the offering.

When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a
little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn't expected such a
large offering from our small church. He said, "You must have some rich
people in this church."

Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that "little over $100." We
were the rich family in the church! Hadn't the missionary just said so?
From that day on I've never been poor again. I've always remembered how
rich I am because I have Jesus!

by: Eddie Ogan.

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