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Nicole Phillips, Published February 24 2012

Phillips: Living their faith by giving

There’s a church in town giving away money. If the idea of eternal riches won’t get you through the door, then maybe cold, hard cash will.

Twice this past year, Ignite Church in Moorhead passed out a gift to its members. Each member got an envelope filled with cash – $10, $20, $50 or $100. But the cash wasn’t the gift. The real gift was the experience of giving that money to someone else, someone in need.

I’m starting to hear about all of the ways people are choosing to share that money. The stories are invigorating and inspiring. Here are a few:

Passing on the blessing

“The four people in my family each got $20 in our envelopes. We decided to put it all together.

After praying about it, we decided that we would go to WalMart on Christmas Eve and ask God to direct us to the person we should give it to. As we walked around, we saw a young mother with three children. A little later we saw her again.

We went up and told her how God had blessed us this Christmas season and that we wanted to be a blessing to her. We handed her the envelope and chatted a bit. She told us they were trying to have a merry Christmas, but her dad works for American Crystal Sugar and was locked out.

We talked about her kids a bit, and in the conversation she mentioned that she only shops for clothes at thrift stores. Those two things really made us feel that we had found the right person to be a blessing to.

We wished her a Merry Christmas and went on our way. It felt really good to be able to help someone out, especially at Christmastime.”

A holiday feast

“We were able to bless four different families by paying for their meals at various restaurants. This not only blessed the families, but the restaurant staff, too.

They were in awe of someone doing such a thing in the name of Jesus and the spirit of Christmas giving. We asked that they not tell who did the act of kindness, but to simply say “Someone wishes you a Merry Christmas!”

Selfless giving

“The young gentleman we brought with us to Ignite Church had never been to a church before. He was so excited to get an envelope and learn the reason behind the gesture.

His mother had just been laid off and told him and his brother that morning that they didn’t have money for Christmas gifts. This young man took the funds in his envelope and purchased a gift for his dad, his mom, and his brother and NOTHING for himself.

He said he couldn’t wait to see his mom’s face when he told her of the service and what the church is doing for other people.”

A much-needed breather

“My husband and I had been given $30. We knew there would be someone with a need and had been keeping our eye out for that special situation.

One Sunday at church a young mom with a newborn came and asked for prayer. She was so stressed and exhausted from meeting everyone’s needs and taking care of her third child. The biggest weight was the cost of child care as she was going back to work in a couple weeks. I told her I would come and babysit so she could get a breather.

When I saw her again the next Sunday, I still felt that small nudge, and as I greeted her, I pressed the money into her hand. It was God’s gift of encouragement and my joy to be his messenger.

The really important things in life are simple, and the simple things aren’t hard to do. Just love people and give what you have in your hand at the time, and God will take that little and make it much! A smile, a prayer, a touch on the arm – all of it is huge in God’s economy.”

Thank you to the members of Ignite Church for sharing your stories of kindness and proving that oftentimes, the greatest gift comes from being the giver.

Continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.