by Kayla Raymond
This post has been brewing inside of me for a long time now. So, before we dive in, just know I have prayed about this and put a lot of thought into the words I’m about to spill onto your screen. With that said, here we go.
I’ve forever been convicted by the story of the poor man and rich man in Luke 16. I’ve told the story before, right here on this blog. The poor man, Lazarus, lies outside the gates of the rich man’s home, looking for whatever scraps he can find. When the two die, the poor man finds his way to heaven and the rich man finds his way down to hell. The rich man begs for just a moment of relief from Lazarus, asking him to dip his finger in cool water to cool his tongue. The rich man is denied comfort, and Abraham replied to his request by saying, “you had received good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”
This story rocks me to the core. Because, I have received so many good things. I don’t live a luxurious life by any means, but I have access to whatever I need. I would also admit that I have never experienced the feeling of agony in my life, having malaria comes close, but I’m sure it was nothing like the agony Lazarus and my neighbors experience in the village. I am sure that no experience in my life compares to the agony of the poor in our world.
If you’re in a position to read this, I am guessing you could agree. So, then we come to the conclusion that we don’t want to be the rich man in this story. I fear becoming like this man. This morning a mother of four came to my gate. She’s recently been abused and abandoned by the father of her children. He was the one with the job and the person putting food on the table. She’s so lost.
A few weeks ago, she sat a pew away from me in church. I watched her worship. Tears streamed down her face as she rocked her baby girl in her arms. One arm around the child, the other arm draped across the top of her head. I could see defeat in her posture. I wondered what could be going on, but I avoided it. Because knowing her pain would some how make me responsible and I’m afraid to be responsible sometimes.
But, she found her way to my gate. Not too hard to find, just ask anyone in the village where to find the white girl, they’ll tell you she’s behind the gate at the end of the dirt road. So, I listened to her story of abuse and abandonment. She’s worried she won’t be able to take care of her children. She loves this man who is leaving her and doesn’t know where to go from here. And, I want to help. I truly do. But, my wallet is empty. I have no jobs available. And you have heard the story from me before: there’s no hope to offer from my porch today.
So, take these feelings and mix them in with the constant struggle I have to provide for my family. I’m a grown-up now. And, I have dreamed about being one of these for a long time, but it’s a lot harder than I thought. My husband and I dream of owning a car someday and we have visions of having a home all to ourselves. Nothing extravagant and we aren’t talking about Denali’s or SUV’s but, a simple diesel car to get us from point A to point B would be nice. I want a yard with green grass and place for my children to grow up. And I want to call them mine, knowing I worked hard to own them the good ol’ fashioned way.
I want to practice what I preach, too. We talk about giving people a chance at some real dignity in life. Dignity earned through employment and hard work. I want to work hard right along side these folks, saying “I worked for that!” It’s something I want my children to know too: that mama and papa worked hard so you could have a better life. So, I consider myself (and Webert does, too!) so incredibly blessed to be working where we do and have jobs that pay us fair salaries. Salaries allowing us to put food on the table for our three children. A monthly income giving us a shot to own a vehicle maybe someday and if we save our money just right, we may even have a little shack to call our own, too. We can afford our groceries, put gas in the car, and give a little here and there, but at this point, not much more than that. I hope I can buy airline tickets with my own money someday, help my kids go to college and afford a new vanity (I dream of having a sink with counter space!)
But, every time I have an extra bill to save, someone comes a knockin’ on our gate. My dad says I can’t give it all away. And it does go against every rule for saving. But, who is going to help them if I don’t? What other gate is there to go a knockin’ on?
The struggle of having and living where people don’t know what having means is the hardest part of this journey. I want good things for my family. Webert and I have dreams and I hope to see them come true someday, as does any family, right? But, I struggle knowing a $20 bill that should be put away for savings could feed a hungry family for a month. I have this debate in the deepest parts of my soul. I really don’t want to be like that rich man. I feel people judging me (whether they truly are or not, I don’t know) when I have a new skirt on or take my extra $20 for a day away at the beach. People in my neck of the woods don’t get to have new skirts very often and most won’t ever just “treat themselves to a beach day.”
We won’t ever understand the Lord’s justice or make sense of why He gives some so much and others so little. But, maybe you struggle with the same battles I do. You want to help, but don’t know how. You have an extra $20 to give (or way more than that), but don’t know where it should go. And, by no means am I saying that I’m the right person to give it to, but I do know a lady or two who could use it. AND, I’m not saying I believe in hand-outs all the time either. That’s not the answer in the long run, but there are Lazarus’s outside my gate and I want to relieve whatever agony they’re in. Even if it’s only a portion of it.
There are also situations of people needing money to help finish their schooling, others who want small loans to start a business or others who have medical emergencies. You’d be surprised what an extra $20 bill could do here in my small village alongside the ocean in the long run. So many lives could be touched and glimpses of hope could be shed.
I’m always amazed by what God can do with a small amount of things, so that is why I’m taking this step of faith and writing this post. Webert and I, again, feel so blessed to have the jobs we have and we are proud to work for the money we earn. We have decided that we do not want to be “missionaries” – for the lack of better words – who raise support. We need supporters, of course! But, we want people investing in our Kingdom work: the school, the orphanage, the projects, the people, the Lazaruses. We want to take care of ourselves and when we find that we have extra, take care of others.
So, we are searching for other ways to help and take care of the others I speak of. The Lazarusus, the sick, the widowed, the hungry, the naked, the orphaned, the unemployed, the all of them. So, at this time, I’m asking you to be a part of our Lazarus Fund. A fund set up to help the Lazaruses who cross our paths.
The money donated to this fund will be used for the people at our gate, the dreamers looking to finish school or start a business, the sick needing a medical exam, the new mama needing something for her new babe and I could go on and on about the possibilities this money will have. I pray this fund will take a little of the burden off my marriage and myself as I tend to make most of the situations very personal. I usually feel responsible once I know the agony of a neighbor. I’ve lost sleep and daydream trying to come up with an extra dollar or a solution.
One of the reasons I have postponed writing about this fund for so long is because money tends to have such a weird and powerful grasp on my life. I grew up dreaming of having the American dream. I was raised in a family that had money and I basically always had everything I needed and then some. My walk-in closet that I had since seventh grade is something I’m now ashamed to admit I had. I’ve given most of my clothes away and wear my favorite Old Navy shorts with a Target v-neck about every day of the week, now. Coming to terms with never having a retirement fund and relying on my parents to buy plane tickets for me hasn’t been an easy thing. Giving up my designer name jeans, another struggle of its own!
And then, there’s my husband. He grew up as one of the have-not’s. And, I love him for that, but we see the world differently because of that, too. He didn’t have a car when he turned 16 and recalls only having a pair of shoes while growing up. He told me when he was little he had a pair of pants and a shirt to wear to church every Sunday (I used to complain to my mom about never having enough “church clothes”). But, now he has a dresser with drawers that barely close.
I think money can do weird things to people. It can make us greedy, blind and leaving us wanting more. For so long, I always wanted more, but now I want less and I don’t know how to make that always work. And so the journey for contentment continues.
So, the Lazarus Fund will hopefully calm some of my fears of never being able to save money, can take some of the burden away and help me help the people I want to help. Donating to this fund will require some faith of your behalf, too. We may not necessarily always tell you how we used the money. Donating to this fund will mean you trust us and trust we will use the money wisely, which is always a great prayer request on our behalf. It’s hard knowing when to help and when not to. This fund will, of course, allow us to help more, but there will be times when we have to say no,too. God give us more wisdom.
Also know that none of this money will ever be used for our personal needs. As stated before, Webert and I feel so blessed to have the jobs that we have and we want to save our earnings for the little family God has given us.
So, let’s see what God wants to do with this fund!
You can send donations to
Touch of Hope
205 Old Mill Lane
Rock Rapids, Iowa 51246
with a memo note for Lazarus.
*Touch of Hope is a registered 501(3)c non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible.
Love from Haiti.