This is a story I heard a missionary tell recently. It made a big impression on me, so I typed it out to share. I hope it may be a challenge and encouragement to you as it has been to me.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
A widow woman attended a church in Pennsylvania.This woman's husband had died and she had a few children to care for. She was very poor. She didn't even have a telephone or a car. She walked everywhere.
To earn a living she cleaned the houses of rich people in town. Some she went to once a week, others were once a fortnight. She was always known for singing and praying. She would get 'hand-me-downs' for the children. She barely had enough money to pay rent and food. She made about $4,000-$5,000 a year.
One Sunday evening a missionary was speaking at her church and the missionary had great needs.
This widow woman made a promise to God. “I will give to this missionary everything you give me above my basic needs. Would you give me something extra?”
On Monday morning she went to the first house to clean. As the business man went out the door to work, she said to him, “Sir, I'll be praying today as I work in your house that God will give you good success in your business and bless your business.” He grinned and went off to work. But he didn't forget that this lady was going to pray for him that day.
That day God blessed the business man with unusual blessing. He made many sales. He thought about the widow woman and wondered whether it was just chance that it had happened.
He stopped his car by the woman's house and asked her if she had prayed. She said, “Yes, has my God answered?”
He pulled out a large bill of money and gave it to her. He said, “I've had such a good day in business, I want to share this with you.”
Then he left.
She looked at the money and said ”God, this is for the missionary!”
She was excited. She went to the bank and got him to send it to the missionary. She didn't have a cheque book.
On Tuesday she did the same thing, but in a different home. God blessed that man on that day, too.
This happened every day.
She would say every morning, “I'll be praying as I clean your house that God blesses your business today and that He will give you good success.”
God would keep reminding the guys that this woman was praying for them.
When it happened the second time to this first man he said, “Did you pray for me again today?”
“Yes,” she answered.
He replied, “It's amazing! These two Mondays I've done better business than all the months in the past. Why don't you pray for me every day?”
She said, “I can't do that because I pray for my master and on Monday you're my master. But on Tuesday I've got to pray for other people.”
He said, “Why don't you work for me all the time?!”
He would make the big business deals and appointments on the Monday she was working for him!
This 'blessing' happened every day of the week to all the different businessmen she worked for. And some once in every two weeks.
They all started raising her pay. She thanked God for the extra money and gave it all to the missionary. She was going to the bank so many times now that the banker made her get a cheque account so she could send her cheques directly to the mission board. That way she wouldn't have to bother him every day.
By now she was getting cheques in the mail. These businessmen were getting rich over her and she was so poor. So they started sending her cheques. She took these cheques straight to the bank.
They kept raising her pay and giving her gifts. One man even gave her $80 for a new coat. She had one black coat that she wore every day. She could only wear one at once, so to her it wasn't a basic need. She took the $80 to God and said “God, this isn't a basic need. I've already got a coat.” And so the coat money went to the missionary.
When this businessman saw that she didn't get a new coat, he thought she probably had greater needs than a coat. Maybe she was starving! So he went to the grocery store and told the grocer, “I'm making a deposit. When that widow woman comes in to do her shopping, put it on my bill and charge it to my account.”
So now her grocery money was able to go the missionary! She could pick out more nutritional food and it was all paid for.
She was eating better now. Every week she dared to put better food in her basket and took it home praising God. All her children were healthier because of it.
Then she went to the landlord to pay her monthly rent. The landlord said, “No, someone made a deposit. Your rent is paid for the whole year. You don't have to come back till next year.”
So off went her rent money to the missionary.
All these business men thought that they were the only ones involved with the widow woman. They didn't know that this was happening every day of the week. They were all taking care of her because they were all becoming wealthy over her.
She couldn't spend a dollar in the whole town. All her salary could go to the missionary. But it wasn't $4,000 a year anymore. It was much more, because there were increases all the time.
She was still very, very poor. Everything extra she gave to the missionary. She was still praying daily for her needs to be met. Although they were eating better, she still only had one coat.
One day a furniture truck came and carried in new beds and took the old ones out. All these businessmen were looking for ways to spend money on her, but they were all beating each other to it. They bought new furniture and some even bought new clothes for the children.
Eventually, the missionary came home on furlough and went back to that church. The missionary asked the pastor, “Who is this wealthy family that's sending us all these big cheques of $500 every few months?”
“We don't have any rich people like that in our church,” the pastor informed him.
“But you do,” the missionary argued. “Ever since I was here last furlough there's been this money coming in.”
“What's the name on the cheques?” the pastor asked.
The missionary told him the widow woman's name.
The pastor exclaimed, “No way! She's a widow woman. We support her out of our benevolent fund.”
(Guess what she did with the benevolent money!)
They went to visit the widow lady and knocked on her door. “I remember you,” she said to the missionary as she shook his hand.“Have you sent us money?” he asked.
'Praise God. Praise God,” she answered. “He's given me money to send to you.” They stood there shaking their heads. They couldn't believe it! She was still wearing the same black coat.
After they left, the pastor asked the missionary, “How much is she sending you?”
“This year she sent us $6,000. $500 every other month,” the missionary answered.
What they didn't know was that the widow woman now had many missionaries.
As soon as those missionaries were on furlough, they would come to her church, because that's where their biggest cheques were from.
Eight missionaries showed up in the next few years which is how the pastor found out. He asked each one how much they were receiving. The best he could figure what that she was giving $20,000-$25,000 a year to missions!
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Luke 6:38