John Fuller: This is Focus on the Family with your host, Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And Jim, we don’t always do this, but we wanted to get out of the studio. And so, we did a little snack run. Along the way you did something kind of spontaneous.
Jim Daly: Well, it was fun. Let’s let the clip speak for itself.
(Audio of the snack run)
Drive-thru Server: How may I serve you?
Jim: We got the fruit cup and the shake, but we want to pay for the people behind us.
Drive-thru Server: You’d like to?
Drive-thru Server: Oh, perfect. That’ll be $5.60 for your order. Thank you, sir. Behind you…
Jim: He’ll appreciate that…
Drive-thru Server: $7.10. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.
Jim: Thank you. (Laughing) I love it. He’s got a big smile on his face.
John: Oh, good.
Jim: You know, when you’re going through a drive through and you pay it forward, so to speak, and you take care of the guy behind you. What a great thing to look and see the smile in their face and maybe a wave thanking you for what you’ve done. It’s wonderful.
John: Mm-hm. It really is. And I think I don’t do that enough, but I’m not sure my budget can stand doing it as much as I’d like to.
Jim: It’s a little hard on the grocery budget, your eating out budget, whatever it might be. But it’s fun to do, especially for servicemen or women, along with those in blue. What a great way to recognize the service they provide our community. And, you know, being in that line, paying it forward for somebody is just a great recognition of God’s kindness, I think.
John: Well, we have a whole program devoted to being kind and thankful. We had folks call in on a special phone line for a couple of days and share their stories. And these are stories of how they received some kindness, some generosity from someone else, and what that did for them. Our hope for this program is that you’ll be inspired to take a moment, look around, and ask yourself, “How can I do that kind of thing for somebody else?”
And so, let’s go ahead and get into the calls. Here now is Liz from Virginia.
Liz: Hi – My name is Liz. And I was a single mom of three for about 10 years. And while I was a single mom, I had a day where I just knew I was at the end of everything. I didn’t have enough food in the house to feed my children. I had a great job, but I didn’t even have enough gas to get to work and come home that day.
And I stood over my kitchen sink and just prayed, “Lord God, please, I need help.” And He asked me if I trusted Him. And I said “Yes, I do, Lord.” He said, “No. Do you trust me?” And I said “Yes, Father, I trust You.” And He said, “No, do you really trust me?” And I said, “Yes, Lord.” He said “My children have never been forsaken or seen begging for bread. Pray for your miracle before you leave this house today and I will provide.”
And when I got to work, one of my co-workers who was not supposed to be there that day came up to me and said “Liz, the Lord just really put you on my heart. Can you come with me to my car?” And this was a co-worker that had just started working there. She’d only been there a week and her name is Cassie Greer.
And I went out with her to her car and she gave me $325 and told me that the Lord had told her to give that to me. I just want to encourage anyone and let them know that God will always provide for you.
Kerryetta: I received a very special gift January 20th of 2013. I had been praying to the Lord because I a need and didn’t share that need with anyone except for the Lord. Around the same time, I had a dream and I asked the Lord to show me what that dream meant.
In the dream I could see a man extending his hand to me. And I knew that the man was Hispanic. Uh … the following day on my way to church, I had a vision where I saw the man give me a check, or I saw a check in a certain amount of money.
I go to a church where there are probably about 4,000 people in my service alone. As I was leaving the church, a lady who is Hispanic came up to me and said that her husband said that God said to give me this check.
The check was not for amount that the Lord has shown me; it was for 10 times that amount. I’m having an extremely tough time right now and every time I think of that, it just gives me a boost, just to know that the Lord did that for me. That He was concerned with my smallest need. It meant so very much to me. And I thank them for being obedient to God.
Paula: I was married for 20 years. I was going through a divorce. I’m a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and I’m a part of the usher ministry. At the time that I was going through a divorce, there were so many instances that people stepped in and gave me acts of kindness.
The first act of kindness I got was from Alonzo and Candace Ramirez, who let me stay in their motor home until I located a home and closed on it. The second act of kindness I got was several of the men from my usher ministry moved me absolutely free. The third act of kindness I got was when I moved into my new place, it had a very large yard. One of the members of the usher ministry named Jesse gave me–and I did say gave me–a riding lawn mower.
There were people who called me regularly just to make sure I was able to walk through this alone. And what I thought was gonna be a horrible situation, turned out to be the Word of God coming to life on how we loved each other the way God loves us.
Derise: I was a single mom of three. I was going back to school, studying to be a teacher. I was making breakfast in the morning and I remember feeling so sad, because I made pancakes and there weren’t … wasn’t any syrup for my children’s pancakes and I felt really, really sad that morning.
And later in the day, I remember praying and just, ya know, kind of lamenting to God my situation. And later in afternoon, we found a … a bag of groceries on the porch on … and we brought the groceries in and the kids were so excited. And we were pulling things out and in the very bottom of the sack was a bottle of syrup. And it just …it still makes me cry and it’s been over 20 years ago. But I always remember that story of God’s faithfulness and He knows our hearts.
Lori: My husband was deployed for 18 months and I had my two sons with me who were 5- and 7 –years-old. And it was after a basketball game on the Army base. And so, they were wearing their uniforms that said the Army base’s name.
And we had gone out to lunch and we were waiting to be seated. I told my boys how proud their daddy would be when he got home to see how much they had learned and how they had grown. And I assumed that this comment was overheard, because when time came to pay the bill, the server told us that it–I still get emotional about it–it had been taken care of by another patron.
So, um … when your request came in for these stories, you specifically said, “…someone who stepped in and met a need.” And of course, for us, the need wasn’t the price of lunch at all. The need that had been met was that we were remembered. Care was shown for our family. Um … I don’t know what motivated the person. Maybe it was my husband’s service or maybe it was that we were there without him and sort of holding down the fort. And I’m assuming that they realized we were away from family, since we’re military.
So, for them, it was the price of lunch. For me, it was a priceless and extravagant gift, that someone acted on their concern for our family and I’ll always be grateful for it.
John: And that was Laurie from Virginia, reflecting on what was for someone else, the price of a lunch. But for her, it felt like an extravagant gift.
This is a special edition of Focus on the Family. And as you’re out and about, maybe you can find some ways to implement some of these ideas that we’re sharing today and consider helping someone else out this Christmas season. And Jim, you never know what a kind act right now right here is going to do to lift the burden of someone else.
Jim: It’s so true, John. And this kind of generosity can make a tremendous impact on somebody, which is obvious because the people who are sharing these stories today haven’t just remembered them for days or weeks, but for years. That says something right there. And I’m noticing some of the callers didn’t even know who to thank because the giver was that anonymous. And that’s always a test of our humility, isn’t it? And it’s a good thing.
Matthew 6:3-4 says, “When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” It’s a beautiful illustration about keeping quiet when doing good things. Of course, there are times where it’s just too hard to avoid that. But what’s important is that you’re giving from your heart as you see a need. And this time of year, celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, what a great time to provide those moments to delight somebody else.
John: And that’s our goal for this broadcast today. To remind you to look around, be observant, and to find a need that you can meet, as Jim said. And if you’d like a tool that you could refer to, to maybe move forward in that, we’ve got a book by Brad Formsma called I Like Giving. And it’s available at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
Jim: It really is fun to give to others. And I don’t know who enjoys it more – the giver or the recipient when something kind is done. And, you know, I have to give Jean a lot of credit because she’s good at this. She really seeks to bless other people.
John: Well, and Dena’s the same way. She just there are so many needs that she wants to meet. And I love that bigness of her heart and that generous spirit.
Jim: Yeah. And what’s so good, too, is that models for the kids how to be generous.
John: Um hmm
Jim: And one thing we try to do every year is go to nursing homes just to put smiles on the faces of those who may not get many visitors throughout the year. Of course, with COVID concerns this year that may look different and we’ll likely have to find other ways to bless them. But when we could go to the nursing homes, I think we were the ones who were really blessed.
John: Um hmm
Jim: I mean, just to talk with these people that have so much wisdom and so many years. It was awesome to engage with them. These next few calls hone in on those who received an act of kindness around the holidays. Here’s Patricia from New Mexico.
Patricia: Well, my husband had just been laid off and we asked our church to please pray for us as this was a difficult time financially. It was right around the holidays, right before Thanksgiving actually. And the day before Thanksgiving, we woke up and were startin’ our day and opened the front door and there stood a box and in that box was a turkey, and some baked potatoes to be baked, and some vegetables for a Thanksgiving dinner. [We] never did know where that came from or uh … it was an answer to prayer. And I’ve never forgotten that surprise, ’cause in the past when we were able financially to help people, we did same thing– just leave a loving gift for someone. So, in a way, we have answered prayers in the past and this Thanksgiving dinner was a huge answer to our prayer and a huge blessing for our family.
Sharinka: My son Bryan was about 1-years old at the time. And I wanted to bake cookies and make treats for Christmas. I didn’t have a whole lot of money. I had about $97 on my card, but the treats and food and everything else was exceeding to about $190-something dollars. So, as I began to put things back, because I guess I was … my eyes were bigger than my wallet at the time. So, as I began to put things back, I noticed someone tapped me on the shoulder that was in line with me. And she said, “I see that you’re trying to get treats. And in the spirit of Christmas,” she said, “I want to pay for your groceries.” And I just began to weep because my heart’s desire was to be a blessin’ to others by baking cookies and treats and givin’ ’em out for Christmas, but I didn’t have enough money to do it all. But God met that need and sent someone in the store at that particular time when I got there, to be a blessing. And she paid about $90-something dollars for the remaining ingredients for the treats. So, I was so blessed and I’m still so very thankful for her doing that even though it was a few years ago. But I’m just so blessed by that.
Jay: We had helped some people before in our church. We had come across some money and they were in need. A couple years later, I was without work and it was in the Christmas holiday period. We weren’t sure how we were gonna be able to make it, because funds were really low, almost being extinct. I was out trying to find some work. When I came home, my wife had told me that this couple we had helped before brought in groceries like you would not believe. And they were trying to teach their children, that were I think at the time were 6 and 10, that it is better to give than to receive. And it’s just amazing how … how our Lord and Savior works in so many fine, fine ways. God bless you folks at Focus on the Family and thank you so awful much.
Ronald: I had found out that I had cancer. And I had two children and my wife and one baby on the way. And I had to have immediate surgery–a tumor under my brain. And I had it in my chest, in my lymph nodes, starting on my bones. It was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. And then I started chemo radiation. And it just so happens when I had that surgery in like November, I couldn’t work. And different churches– I never even know some of them– just poured in groceries, things for the children, toys, diapers, and some cash. And just was unbelievable how much stuff we had that Christmas.
And so, that was pretty amazing. I never experienced anything like that–the love and support and people at churches we didn’t even know. Some even came over to our house and surprised us with some money. And even some people from my job gave us money. So, some pretty amazing experiences. God has shown me His love and support and how powerful the church can be, and I think it was a great, great witness to other people too.
Brandy: I was at work and I had gotten a visit to my cubicle from a co-worker who I had recently come to know. And on one of the last conversations that I had with her, I just mentioned in passing, “Yeah, it’s been really difficult for me to transition back working full-time because we have two young boys and it’s hard to have two young boys in day care and be able to pay for that bill.” So, I mentioned that to her. It was really a short comment; it was nothing more than that.
But she had stopped by my cubicle on a different day and talked with me. We just had a casual conversation and she said she had something for me. She handed it to me, and she told me she would talk to me later. It was an envelope. I did open it and it … she actually had given me $100 bill. And she had a note inside the envelope that said that she and her husband give each other $100 bills every Christmas and they save it to give to a person in need for the next year.
And I just thought that was so thoughtful. And I was so appreciative, I was crying. I was definitely impressed with God for what He sort of allowed her to do. And to know that God actually cared enough to put it on somebody else’s heart to help me out was really heartwarming to me.
John: Well, there’s an old saying that God always works on both sides of the equation. And right there we’ve heard a great example of someone who was ready. They were equipped and willing to do whatever the Lord said and God put it on her heart to reach out to a coworker who was struggling and Jim that 100 dollars I’m sure, made a big difference in that woman’s faith journey and her practical life every day.
Jim: I’m sure it did, John. And I’m thinking how often I’ve heard a testimony of somebody who was praying because they were, you know, had a point of need and someone knocked on the door leaving groceries on the porch or something like that. Those testimonies demonstrate that God is actually with us. He knows our situation. That he hears your point of pain and he is responding through his people. You know, I just love that idea of setting aside a bit of money to give someone over the course of a year. That’s a great way to consider sustaining someone through difficulty.
Jim: And when you look at it, John, there’s a wonderful change of heart when generosity comes out of your deepest desire rather than an obligation. And so often we tend to want to give out of that obligation rather than out of joy. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
John: I would agree. And joy is such a central part of the Christian life and the Christmas story. And as we’re in the holiday season here, let me just remind you, as a listener of our podcast series. It’s our Christmas Stories podcast, which has some fun, heartwarming memories of the holidays. Quite a few names you’ll recognize from these broadcasts like Asheritah Ciuciu, J.John, Liz Curtis, Higgs, Joni Eareckson Tada and Phil Vischer. You can also hear the Thorn Creek Bridge story and some segments from Adventures and Odyssey. All of that and more in our Christmas Stories podcast. And some of our listeners tell us they’ve been bingeing this podcast series and loving every minute of it. Join them and find the details at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Let’s go ahead and hear now the final segment of calls and how some trying situations can be more bearable, thanks to someone who gave. Here now is Sharon from Connecticut.
Sharon: I was living in Appomattox, Virginia. We had a farm at that time. I was married to an alcoholic and he had taken off and took all the money with him and left us absolutely desolate. We had nothing. There was no food in the house. We did have eggs from the chickens that we had, so it wasn’t like we had, you know, no food. But there was no cereal for the kids; there was very, very little food, no toilet paper, nothing.
And I remember sitting at my kitchen floor and just weeping before the Lord, saying “Lord, I need Your help. I don’t know what to do.” And my oldest sat down with me and said “Mommy, God’s gonna take care of us!”
And so anyway, um…you know, I … it just encouraged me. It was just an encouraging word at that time that I so needed.
But anyway, the next day, the very next morning, I was walking outside to get the paper, whatever, and there was a box of food out on my steps. It was a miraculous thing. I don’t know to this day who did it. But there was cereal in there. There was toilet paper. There was laundry detergent–everything that we needed to get through to the end of the month when we would receive a check. And it encouraged my children. To this day, they are exceedingly very, very generous.
And so, if this was a person in Appomattox, Virginia about 25 years ago, I just thank you for what you did. If this is the Lord, then Lord, bless You and thank You so much for keeping our family in a safe place and providing everything that You did for us.
Beatrice: My husband had just recently got released from prison. He served 9 years. He gave his life to Christ. It was a … it was a hard time, but it was a good thing because he turned his life and he got focused and is loving Christ now. But this couple from church, they invited us for dinner. They knew our situation. Joseph was looking for car, my husband. And they sat us down and they told us, “We just want to be a blessing to you guys and we want to give you our car as a blessing, because there’s no public transportation here and it’s kind of hard to look for a job when you don’t have a car.” So, they sat us down and they completely blessed us. Their name is Kyle and Mary Jo, so they …they blessed us completely.
Joan: My husband’s job sent us to the West Coast and all our family is on the East Coast. And three months after we came here, my husband decided he didn’t want to be married and he left. So, I had no money. I had two children. I did not know my neighbors. I didn’t have a church.
And one day I saw a neighbor painting a picture in her yard and I got the courage to go talk to her and told her my situation and she sent me to a little church nearby in the woods. Well, I got to that church and a lady with a brand-new baby came up to me and made my acquaintance. And as we talked, she said, “My husband’s a milkman and he needs customers.” And I said, “Well, I can’t afford a milkman.” And I told her I had no money and we were using dry milk.
Well, she was very, very nice and friendly and everybody in the church was friendly, so I thought, well, I will go there all the time. So, the next morning a milk truck pulls up in my driveway. And her husband jumps out and I said, “Oh, there’s a misunderstanding. I told your wife; I can’t afford the milk.” And he just says, “It’s all taken care of.” And he pushed me aside and walked in the house and he gave me every … one of everything he had on the truck. There was milk; there was cheese; there was eggs. I can’t remember the other things.
And I was so nervous, wondering who’s gonna pay for this. And he says, “Don’t worry. It’s all taken care of.” Well, I found out four months later that they had four children and were very needy themselves. And it just amazed me that perfect strangers would reach out to me and do that for me. It really built my faith.
Peter: I’ve recently been laid up from work. I’m receiving no income. I let my landlady know that I wasn’t gonna probably be able to make rent the next month and I’d be moving out. And she said, “Don’t worry about it. If you miss a couple of months, it’s not a big deal.” I never hear a landlord saying that.
Gayle: This was many years ago and my husband left, and we had three teenage children. And he also had incurred secret debt which further complicated the disaster that was quickly overtaking our lives. But where he was faithless, God was more faithful. And for years, the finances made no sense on paper. But often I would get a call from the church secretary and she would say, “You need to come by. I have an envelope for you.” And there would be money from people that loved us and looked out for us. And God saw us through. There were grants and scholarships. All three children went to Christian colleges. But one thing in particular I remember that tendered me so was one time I found an envelope in my door and it had an amount of cash in it and the note on it said, “This is just for you, this is not for bills. This is to buy a treat for yourself.” And it was such a time in the desert that it was just so warming and meaningful to have somebody reach out like that. To realize that I was really noticed and had a need. I just can’t express though. God is faithful. God is so faithful.
John: Wow. Even when life doesn’t make sense, when it’s just a struggle after struggle, God is faithful, there’s no doubt about that. And he uses us to come alongside others at a point of need. And we’ve heard some really incredible calls today on Focus on the Family.
Jim: Yeah, they’ve been great, John, and they’ve really shown the benefit of having a giving heart. And I hope you’re inspired to seek ways to bless people during the coming days.
An easy way to do this at Christmas time is to come alongside families who are struggling. This year was a rough one for many people, and the Christmas season is more welcome than ever. And we all need the hope and peace Jesus Christ came to give us at this time.
And we can give families hope through your support of Focus on the Family. Couples on the verge of divorce, families in crisis, struggling parents, frightened mothers considering abortion and other needs that you can help meet during this holiday season. When you give a gift of any amount to the ministry today we’ll send you a copy of that book John mentioned by Brad Formsma, I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life, as our way of saying thank you. And we’d like to finish the year strong and be able to plan to reach even more families in the coming year. And the only way we can do that is with your help. God’s going to do something amazing through you and Focus on the Family in 2021.
John: Yeah, we’re really looking forward to what that might be. And when you donate today your support will go twice as far thanks to a limited time matching gift opportunity. Your gift today helps strengthen families and it’s going to be doubled until that match is met. So, donate generously as you can today and get your copy of, I Like Giving at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Well have a great weekend and plan to join us on Monday as we hear from Liz Curtis Higgs. She’ll be reflecting on the hope that Christmas brings to each one of us.
Liz Curtis Higgs: Jesus came for you. God, all through history, prepared for this day, knowing what Jesus coming would do for every one of us. And what he brings is hope.