Brentwood UMC pays it forward!

March 23, 2010

I so excited to report that members Amanda and Travis Garner, from the Brentwood United Methodist Church, took part in a “pay it forward” effort that has succeeded in raising enough funds to drill a well in Sierra Leone, West Africa! I have copied their latest blog entry below:

Pride, Humility, and $5000

Today marks the end of the two-week period for our project. Last night we tallied all the donations received to date. We were just shy of $3600. A great effort. One that we are very excited about, but we’d just been so sure that God was telling us to raise $5000 in two weeks to build a well for Just Hope International that, in the honest places in our hearts, we were a little disappointed. What’s that saying about pride being the root of all sin? We reminded ourselves that this story was not ours to begin with. The purpose was to invite others to participate in something bigger than any of us and to see where the Holy Spirit could take our $5. So we prayed that God would take whatever we had – all the donations that friends and family and strangers had given to us, all the enthusiasm we have had for this project, and the great need for this well to be built in Sierra Leone…

We weren’t sure exactly what next steps to take. Do we go ahead and give Just Hope International an uncompleted well fund of $3600? Do we continue our project for a longer period of time in order to get to $5000? My prayer last night was for God to take what we had and make it fit the need, just as Christ and the disciples did as they fed the 5000 from five fish and loaves of bread.

The weekend that we received our $5 in the “Living a Better Story” project, there were 2500 envelopes passed out. Unknown to us as we were deciding to build a well with Just Hope International, a group of junior and senior guys from our youth ministry was also deciding that they would combine the money each of them had received and try to raise enough money to build a well with… JUST HOPE INTERNATIONAL. Initially, neither of us knew about the other’s efforts and by the time we realized it, both of our projects were well underway. (ha!)

This morning, Travis spoke to one of the senior guys leading the project. We’ve had rainy, gross weather in the last few weeks, but last Saturday we ended up with an uncharacteristically warm and sunny day. That happened to be the day that these guys had planned a car wash to raise money for their well. They’d pooled their money to buy supplies and on that Saturday were able to raise just over $1400 – pretty good for a car wash fundraiser, but not quite enough for a well.

Does anyone see where this is going? We raised almost $3600. They raised just over $1400. Neither of our groups could do this alone; however, each of our groups raised the EXACT amount of money that the other one needed to complete a well. I suppose this could be nothing more than coincidence, but it seems Travis and I have been experiencing a lot of coincidences lately surrounding this project. So, this morning, our groups decided to combine our efforts and bring clean water to an area of Sierra Leone, Africa!

As I write this, I realize how crazy this story sounds. Almost unbelievable. In fact, if it had not happened to me, my skepticism would probably make me doubt that parts of it are true. I don’t think all stories can be tied up neatly at the end as we want them to be or that we can always see the fruit of our efforts, but I am confident in this: “In all things, God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good — with those who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

And so, this chapter of our story comes to an end…incredibly. Five to five thousand… it actually happened. I’ve often wondered if I recognize the miracles that I am sure happen around me all the time. Reflecting on this, I can only say I think I may have witnessed a miracle in this community effort and seeing it, I am in awe, a little unsettled, and overwhelmingly grateful to have seen and believed. Thank you for being a part of this adventure with us. Thank you for your compassion, your enthusiasm, and your willingness.

We can’t wait to see where the next chapter of our story takes us!