A letter arrived at CAFO’s main office in northern Virginia. It contained a check, which – to our surprise – had been issued by the State of California.
Alongside the check was a hand-written note. It read:
To Whom It May Concern,
I write this letter so I can introduce myself. My name is G—. I’m currently in Calipatria state prison. I got sentenced to 35 years to life. God started to work in me and He revealed Himself to me in 2010 when I got incarcerated. I’m now a born again Christian. I recently got a job in custody and it was placed in my heart to send my check in hopes that it may provide something for the orphans that your organization ministers to. I’m enclosing $20.00. It’s 3 months’ pay and my prayers are always here as well. Praying for the fatherless and hungry. May God bless you and continue to work through you all.
Brother in Christ
I suspect that this may be the most generous gift CAFO has ever been given. It represents three months of labor in prison. Not only that, but – as I’ve heard from others who’ve done hard time – small things can feel very, very precious in prison. The candy bar or cigarettes or playing cards that prisoners can buy in the commissary sometimes feel almost as dear as life itself. G— sacrificed not only money, but the opportunity to enjoy those prized pleasures. This was not merely a donation to a ministry or a mission, but a precious gift to God Himself.
The generosity of G— moved me deeply. It stirred the rest of CAFO team as well. It revealed the heart of one who, despite their own real struggles, knows deeply the grace of God and reflects gladly His love with costly generosity. We pray God will grow that same heart in us.
That same heart was evident in the early Christians of Macedonia. The Apostle Paul told the well-to-do Corinthian church about them. Despite severe struggles the Macedonians faced, they longed to give to help others in even greater need than their own. As Paul explained:
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. (II Corinthians 8:2-5)
What a beautiful reflection of the generosity of God himself – from Macedonia… and from a California prison. Both gifts provided aid for real needs. Both also encouraged and inspired and challenged God’s people to reflect that same kind of love… and will continue to do so for years to come.