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Delivering food, shelter, and hope to the poorest of the poor
As a development officer here at Cross, I look forward to calling donors and praying with them. These are special times for me, but they can also become an opportunity for God to reveal Himself in an amazing way.
I had one of those moments in the fall of 2017, just after Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. Many of our ministry’s friends in that area had homes damaged or destroyed by that horrible storm, and one of them was a long-time Cross Catholic Outreach benefactor. I’ll call him Jack to protect his privacy.
I’d been making calls into the greater Houston area all morning and had reached mostly answering machines, so I was surprised when Jack answered the phone. “This is Carolyn from Cross,” I awkwardly blurted out. “I’m not calling to ask for anything – I’m just letting you know we’re praying for everyone in the Houston area. Are there any prayers I can remember for you today?”
Jack paused. When he finally spoke, his voice cracked a bit as he asked for prayer on behalf of his children. Over the next year, I did pray for Jack and his family and was so excited when I received an email from him back this past September, about a year after the storm and the call I’d made.
I was amazed by the contents of the email. In it, Jack wrote, “My wife and I would like to make a donation in the name of our builder and his team. We found out when finishing our house repairs that they had taken our job with the intent of receiving little to no profit as their way of helping a family in need. We’d like to pay their generosity forward by donating to the construction of a few homes for families in Latin America.”
I was, of course, overjoyed Jack and his wife wanted to help the poor, but I was equally delighted he’d been blessed by someone in Houston during his time of need. I distinctly remember the grief in Jack’s voice when we’d spoken just after the storm, and I could imagine the trials his family had faced over the past year. It was wonderful to hear a company came to their aid.
Jack and I exchanged several emails, and I eventually lined up a Cross Catholic housing project that was perfectly aligned with what he had in mind. Jack settled on a particular project in Nicaragua, and thanks to a matching gift challenge that was available in that case, his gift provided enough to build three sturdy homes for families who had been living in flimsy, dirt-floored shacks. I wrote the building company’s president a letter letting him know this gift had been made in honor of his business and its generosity toward Jack.
The company president explained that when he had seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, his eyes filled with tears and he had immediately decided to help two families rebuild – but he didn’t share this decision with his employees until the renovation and reconstruction projects were complete. At that point, the workers learned he had personally absorbed the cost of the labor. He added that he looked forward to sharing Cross’ update about the families receiving new homes in Nicaragua with everyone who worked on Jack’s home repair, explaining giving back is a foundational value he shares with the staff of his company. “We are Christians,” he said. “We are supposed to help each other.”
“I am SO HAPPY for these families in Nicaragua,” he said. “God gives us these resources, and we never know what will happen when we use them to bless someone. I am overjoyed!” He then reiterated, “Please tell this story. People need to know how much God loves them and how much we can do for others because He loves us. Everything we do as a company and everything I do, I do it for God! I believe the way God used this to help so many people is a miracle!”
It’s believed Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to cause many ripples.” I love that quote no matter who first said it. The building company’s good deed – which sparked another good deed in Jack and his wife’s heart – is one such blessing with a ripple. It certainly changed life for three families living in desperate poverty in Nicaragua. And perhaps those ripples will touch and inspire all of the people who worked on the home repair and now see how God was able to take something ordinary – like our daily work – and make it extraordinary!