Awhile ago Al blogged about the $100 project and invited people to join in and blog about their experience. I usually try not to talk about my charitable giving. If I hear Al mention a charitable gift we have given, even in passing, I usually elbow him and mutter "right hand, left hand!" (a reference to Mt 6:3). So, blogging about what I did for the $100 project feels a little awkward. And yet, for some reason, it also feels important to join in the project and to share my experience with others.
When Al first posted his $100 project blog, I assumed that his $100 counted as mine too. We're married and most of our charitable giving is done in both of our names. So I figured I would help Al decide what we should do with our $100 and that would be all. Then I received a $100 honorarium for leading worship at a retreat. I starting to think about how I could spend the money. I could buy more stamps and other card making supplies, or I could use it towards an anniversary gift for Al... And then a quiet whisper, "You know, its $100. Remember Al's blog. You could give it away."
My first response was not very nice. "Give it away!? But this is one of the few times I earn extra money that I can justify spending on me." I didn't have any immediate opportunities to spend the money anyway, so I put it aside and started to pray about it. I didn't pray particularly often or very fervently, but I did ask God what I should do with the money. Should I give it to an organization or should I find a more personal way to give the money to someone in need? Should I use it to help poor people, people with disabilities, or something else? Was giving to an organization instead of finding something local and more personal a cop-out?
Then I began to notice that one organization was coming to my attention more frequently than usual. While reviewing a video for work, I saw a segment about International Justice Mission (IJM). Shortly after that I read a brief news blurb about a successful mission that IJM accomplished in freeing children who were enslaved in the sex industry. I am familiar with IJM because the publisher I work for publishes Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, the president and CEO of IJM. I had also heard someone from IJM speak at the Urbana 06 Student Missions Convention. Finally, last week Al was reading Terrify No More, a book documenting the events leading up to, and surrounding, IJM’s raids in the notorious Cambodian village of Svay Pak where their workers rescued 37 underage victims of sex trafficking, many of them under the age of 10. I read a few chapters before we had to return the book to the library and made my decision.
Since the work of IJM includes a few different areas that I am particularly concerned about (injustice, children in need, slavery, sex trafficking) and since IJM seems to be coming to my attention more frequently than usual (something God often uses to catch my attention), I decided to give my $100 to them. I imagine that $100 is a small amount for IJM in comparison to what they need, but I hope God will use my small gift to help rescue people who are experiencing injustice and help on their journey to find hope and healing.