This past year I've had the incredible privilege to be part of a Splurge group. What fun it's been! A couple of weeks ago we had our wrap up with a Christmas celebration and an overview of the past year. Oh My! God is soooo good and what joy we had in sharing what He had done in the lives of the people that He'd touched through us. It indeed was a wonderful celebration, filled with laughter, tears, hugs, love and the PURE JOY of GIVING! What a beautiful bunch of ladies that are in this group!
I've heard of Splurge groups before and had often thought of the fun of being a part of one but never really felt led to start one up or to join one. But when Kim Dyck, a woman in my Friday Bible study group, announced last December that she'd like to start a very special splurge group, it REALLY peaked my interest and I knew I wanted to be a part of this wonderful idea. She approached our Pastor after discussing it in our Bible study group and announced it in church the following Sunday.
Last December began a number of things in our church and this was one of them. Our Pastor is often challenging us to be part of changing our world. It was December 2010, that Rick from Hands On shared his testimony at our church and told us of his ministry to kids on 20th street. He also made us more aware of the growing population of teen girls that are being prostituted on our streets, illegally and against their will. So, as a church, we were being a bit shaken to the core and many hearts were torn at realizing what was happening in our own city! It was during of all of this that Kim, and while finishing up our current Bible study on Nurture, that God gave Kim a vision of starting up this "Pay It Forward" Splurge Group.
12 ladies signed up and we began a journey of the adventure of giving away our money each month. :) It's not always an easy thing to do, but what an incredible blessing it's been when we have given! Most splurge groups, the women meet each month, collect an amount of money from each member, a name is drawn and the winner gets to spend the winnings on herself...and NOT to pay the bills or buy groceries...she must splurge on herself. Sounds Fun!! BUT, the purpose of this particular splurge group is to spend that money on someone else...to Pay It Forward. This cannot be planned in advance and must be someone that God leads you to "splurge" on. Then each time that we meet, we get to hear the testimony of the woman who won the last month and hear how she followed God's leading and blessed someone else with the money. I'd like to share parts of these very special stories with you! Kim had made a beautiful handwritten card for each of us ladies with the year in review....wow, what a precious gift. Here's what she shared: (NOTE: pictures are not all actual event shots but some are.)
January 2011 - a mom with a new baby is given help buying baby supplies
February 2011 - an electronic game was purchased and given to Hands On for an interactive activity for the kids
March 2011 - this months money is being used on an ongoing basis to provide healthy snacks for the kids at The Bridge
April 2011 - she has a son with special needs and although she receives some help from other groups, this money will help with the extra needs not covered
May 2011 - this money was given to a couple to help with an overseas adoption. When they heard that the child they were adopting had died, they were encouraged to use the money to help with needs at the orphanage, or to help with future adoption expenses
June 2011 - this money was sent to help the many starving in Africa....
July 2011 - in an emotionally abusive relationship, with no money of her own, a beaten down spirit, this money was given to her to encourage, to help build a little independence and to show that she was worthy of kindness.....
August 2011 - a woman left with several children to support on her own. She's not even sure how she'll manage to purchase school supplies. This money is given to her to help lighten the load....
September 2011 - once a prostitute herself, now a Christian, it's her desire to open a home to get the girls off the street so this money was used to be given towards this ministry....
November 2011 - some of the money given to a woman walking through a snowy parking lot, a large tip given to a handicapped worker doing his best, an elderly lady was blessed with this money to pay for her few groceries, and then also to a young mom behind her in the same grocery line whose cart was filled to the brim with baby supplies, another very pregnant lady was blessed with some of the money as well......just many random acts of "blessings" to get "rid of" this money......all led by God.....amen....and maybe some of them were angels in disguise..... :)
What a year of meeting together and hearing the testimonies and sharing the laughter and tears. Oh the people that we have prayed for, knowing that God heard every single prayer and knew our hearts for all these dear ones. We knew deep in our hearts that God had already, long ago, chosen those who would be blessed by this "pay it forward" blessing........and we look forward to another year of Blessing Others!
I'll leave you with the words of Paul in Acts 20:35, as they have spoken to me much throughout this past year..."..I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”