“Impact a life for as little 99 cents” caught my eyes. Colorful images of smiling but obviously poor children filled the brochure that had arrived in my mailbox. Flipping through the pages I was invited to “choose how to transform a life.” I was urged to donate money that could provide clothing, a cow, a sewing machine, clean water, books– an endless list of possibilities– which would “give a family what it needs to break the cycle of poverty.” Each potential gift had a corresponding number listed for easy recording on the paper order form or the organization’s website.
Giving — made simple, convenient and fast.
To me, it seemed uncomfortably similar to all the advertisements that slick marketing companies were using to boost retail sales during this holiday season.
Anger, a sense of injustice, and sadness settled on my heart.
Why? I’m not sure.
Is it because these days I am being bombarded by pre- and post- Black Friday sales, Cyber-Monday sales, Giving Tuesday opportunities, Christmas sales with so much emphasis on money and materialism? Is it the assumption that I could help to improve the life of someone in poverty for as little as 99 cents? Is it because it seems like a great bargain and I should take advantage of this opportunity while the sale lasts?
Something just does not seem right to me. I do want to encourage giving to great causes but somehow putting a low price on a project that involves a person seems to lessen the value and dignity of that individual. And I know that to truly help someone in need demands time, love, and sacrifice.
Am I willing to do that? Sure would be easier to pick out a gift or two and fill out the form. But I have a hard time imagining Jesus doing that. In fact, from His life, He did quite the opposite. Do I dare to think and do differently?