The other day, I recalled a popular credit card commercial, which featured a food establishment working in a rhythm to deliver orders to customers. Each server, behind the counter, did their part and passed the order on to the next- as if they were performing to a beat. Each customer joined in the rhythm by paying with a VISA check card and exiting promptly. Finally, a man tried to pay his bill with cash and everything came crashing to a halt. His choice of payment had stopped the rhythmic flow of the entire operation and the cashier seemed annoyed by the hassle of having to make change for the man. Yet, the rhythm picked right back up after the man exited the scene.
Now that I have lived in Germany for a couple of years, I look at the commercial differently. I now see those paying with cards as Americans and the man paying with cash as a German. Credit cards do exist in Germany, but cash is often used at food establishments in particular. Cashiers do not become annoyed when a customer doesn’t pay with a card. In fact, paying with a card sometimes seems like more of a hassle.
Something that never ceased to perplex me was the time most Germans took to give the cashier exact change. Instead of having an annoyed expression, cashiers were happy to wait. They often thanked the customer for the proper change. I cannot tell you how many times I had been caught behind an elderly German digging through their change purse. It happened almost every time I went to the grocery store.
In Germany, spending the time to collect exact change is not just about slowing down. It’s about the value of the coins as well. People don’t just throw away coins over here. Pennys are not fun to carry, but they are worth something. In fact, so are our bottles. Most soda, water, and beer bottles have to have a deposit laid down on them, which is returned on a receipt when the bottles are returned to the store. You don’t often see these bottles laying around. They are worth something.
I mention these cultural tendencies to introduce to you the idea of becoming a financial supporter, no matter how small your donation is. Your dollars add up. In fact, I found out recently that I am one of the very few people who rely on a small support base. I have about 12 supporters who give between $25 and $400 a month. Most of my friends at The Black Forest Academy have revealed that they have several supporters who give between $20 to $150 a month. The benefit to this financial model is that if one person is no longer able to give, the missionary is not so badly affected by the loss.
My recent financial situation was due, in part, to the fact that my greatest supporter was not able to give their monthly donation of $400 anymore. This person has been incredibly generous and I am so lucky to have received their support. Yet, I must make up that money now if I am going to return this next semester. Rather than worry about those who can give a lot, I am more interested in those of you who can give a little.
Please think and pray about whether God would have you invest in this way. Becoming my financial supporter means more than supporting my ministry to the students of The Black Forest Academy. Supporting me directly causes a ripple effect in the mission community. When I raise support, I keep the cost of the boarding school low for missionaries. This helps them financially and it enables them to work in mission fields around the world, which don’t offer good educational opportunities for their children.
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