I remember back 49 years when I was in the 6th grade. I had an after school paper route. I delivered the Walla Walla Union newspaper in my hometown of Milton-Freewater, Ore.
Over a period of months, I had saved my newspaper route earnings to buy a Lionel electric train set. One evening, a missionary spoke in our church about the serious financial needs of an orphanage in Egypt. Suddenly, my need for an electric train was overshadowed by my compelling desire to provide for the children of that orphanage.
I am sure the small amount I gave to that project did not make a major financial difference in the Egyptian orphanage, but a pattern of generous giving was established in my “innermost being” that is with me to this day. I am not a wealthy person, but I thoroughly enjoy giving from my modest means to needy individuals and to worthy causes – especially causes which honor Christ.
I believe it is important early on in a child’s life that he or she learn to tithe 10% of their earnings or their allowance to the Christian ministry, and even beyond that, to give generously to worthy causes.
There are several ways you can establish in your child’s mind that it is right to give generously:
- Let your children know that you financially support your church. If you are a tither, let them know that 10% of your income goes toward the ministry of your church and explain why you do so. Read to them Malachi 3:10, “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and prove Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'”
- Talk to your children about giving to the poor. Regardless of your economic status, there is always someone who has less than you. When I was a child in Oregon, our single-parent family was on Umatilla county welfare for eight years. There was a welfare family down the street from us who was in more desperate straits than our family. We talked about our needs, and we assisted them. I remember how glad I was that our family could help another family. If you are giving to the poor in any form, directly or indirectly, let your children know about it, and tell them why you are doing so. Read to them Hebrews 13:16: “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
- Give generously to your school. The Christmas season is coming. Most Christian schools have a Christmas giving program. Very often it is a Christmas bonus for the teachers. It may be a Christmas giving project in another form. Whatever the project, involve your children. Talk about the amount each family member should contribute toward your family’s gift to the school. Make it a family adventure in generous giving.
- Sponsor a child — make it a family project. The Association of Christian Schools International, the largest evangelical Christian school organization in the world, has a special program to assist deserving students in third-world countries. It is called ACSI Student Sponsorship. Like other programs of this type, when you sign on as a sponsor and contribute $24 per month, you and your family will receive a specific child’s picture and profile, and you will be encouraged to pray for the child on a regular basis. Throughout the year you may receive letters from your sponsored child, and you and your family will be invited to share the love of Christ with them through your communication.
Your regular monthly support will help pay “your child’s” tuition, buy books and school supplies, provide medical attention and health training, and in some cases, provide a hot lunch program so necessary in a third-world country. With a Christian education and a caring sponsor, many of these children will become the spiritual leaders of their communities in the 21st century.
Sponsorship of a deserving student in another country is an opportunity for you to establish a pattern of generous giving in the mind of your own children. There is nothing so sad as a child who has no concept of sharing or giving to others.
I urge you to write for a free brochure which describes the ACSI Student Sponsorship program. Please write to: ACSI Student Sponsorship, PO Box 35097, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3509, or call (719) 528-6906.
Paul A. Kienel is president of the Association of Christian Schools International, based in Colorado Springs.