It is November in Michigan which means freezing temperatures. Jane and her co-workers are scrounging to find enough winter gloves and socks to go around for all the inquiring homeless. Amidst all of this, a client comes into the store who had been the recipient of $20 cash a while back so he could buy food for his children. He has returned because he has three early Christmas gifts for Jane as a thanks for her previous kindness. His gifts are but small trinkets, but Jane knows he put a lot into them and thanks him profusely. Jane knows at the same time that he will not have an easy time getting Christmas gifts for his family this year, so she signs him up for their Christmas basket program.
This story touched my heart because for once, Jane was on the receiving end. While it may seem counterintuitive that the man would offer Jane gifts while he was still struggling with paying rent, his desire to give back was admirable. But I think it’s easy to forget that part of giving the poor their dignity is accepting their attempts at repayment. Sometimes the hardest part of ministry is letting others minister to you in return.
- Has anyone ever tried to pay you back for something unnecessarily?
- How might allowing someone to do so restore a piece of their human dignity?