Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bing Bong

I was out collecting Christian Aid envelopes this afternoon. This can SO often seem like a thankless task. Often you can knock on four doors in a row and get no response even though you can sometimes see people in there ignoring you. Or worse you can be told that “you’re on private property, you know” as one of my young people was told this year. The temptation to stuff a random proportion of the envelopes with coppers from my own purse occurred to me only briefly last year but again as then I steeled myself to knock on that first door and wait for no answer! I think I return to my previous incarnation as an Avon rep to be happy to do all the cold calling. This year I had a new road; flatter, shorter but with more complicated houses turned into six million flats each! Yet in the midst of all the people telling me “no, thank you” (what is that? What exactly was I offering them that they didn’t want??!!) the begrudging pennies chinking, the woman asking me for ID and saying “it doesn’t have your picture on it!”, in the midst of ALL that there was a MOMENT, a wonderful moment of sheer and utter pointfulness.

I had knocked on a door with Arabic writing on the door that clearly showed me it was a Muslin household. As I’ve been doing Christian Aid for a few years now, I know that in fact Muslims give most generously and willingly to Christian Aid. They have a strong belief in the importance of charitable giving. I learned that lesson soon after I learned that people in poor looking houses tend to give more generously than people living in rich, well-kept homes. I suppose the story of the widow’s mite should have taught me that long ago. It’s a lesson in life really; rich people don’t get rich by giving it away do they? That’s harsh but burning shoe rubber for Christian Aid supports the theory.

So I’d walked up to this Muslim household and knocked on the door. It was answered by a woman surrounded by lots of children of different ages. I held up the envelope and said I was collecting them. I was met with lots of blank looks. Then a little boy pushed passed his slightly bigger sister and tilted his head at me then pointed at me, smiled and said, “Church.” There was much discussion in the hallway and people began putting money in the envelope but I was too busy grinning back at this little guy who was still smiling at me. I asked him, “Have you visited our church with school” He grinned more and nodded.

It was fab. This little chap must have been in one of the school groups that visit our church and clearly it was a GOOD experience for him.

So I may have collected only something like 12 envelopes out of 71 potential households but that one really made a difference.

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