As Little As 99 Cents

“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?

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