March 9, 2022 | View All Stories

Family’s Thankfulness Jar Blesses Native Missions

Sarah gasped and pulled the car over to the side. Saying a quick prayer, she jumped out and hurried to her back bumper. What would she find?

Sarah and her nine-year-old daughter, Helena, went shopping and loaded the groceries into the car. To free up her hands, Sarah placed her cell phone and wallet on the bumper. Three miles down the road, she realized what she’d done.

Wedged between the car and the bumper sat her phone, but the wallet was gone. Now mother and daughter both prayed and began retracing their steps. As they turned into the store’s parking lot they noticed a small bundle in the middle of the adjacent four-lane highway. Sarah parked and safely maneuvered her way to retrieve her license, credit card, and some cash. Gratefulness washed over her and Helena.

Responding to God’s Goodness

As they praised God and worshiped Jesus on the way home, Sarah remembered reading about a thanksgiving jar that Corrie ten Boom had in her home. The family put coins in a jar to express their thankfulness to God for blessings they experienced. When it got full, they gave it to the poor. Sarah discussed this with Helena who said, “Yes, Mommy, let’s do that! Jesus helped you find everything you lost today!”

Helena found a container and handed it to her mother saying, “This will be our ‘Thankfulness Jar.’” On a piece of paper Sarah wrote “Thankfulness Jar,” followed underneath by Psalm 50:23: “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Taping this to a washed-out string-bean can, they both went to find thank offerings for the amazing day. Then they set the can on the dining table.

The “Thankfulness Jar”

Living It Out on a Daily Basis

After that, normal everyday life happened. Animals died, but Mom, Dad, and Helena all contributed coins and bills to the can, thanking God for giving them such wonderful pets. Cars failed, but they gave thanks that they could be fixed. Water pipes froze, but friends came to help them. Instead of fretting and complaining, they dropped more cash into the can and spoke gratitude aloud. They thanked God for family, friends, good days, safety, and divine encounters. Sarah shared, “Having the can visible on the table to see every day changes your perspective on how you look at life. Some days are hard, and thankfulness is a real sacrifice. It’s a constant reminder to find the good in all things.” 

More than a year later, the first coin rolled off the top of the “Thankfulness Jar.” Sarah and Helena waited for Dad to get home and then spread its contents on the table and began counting. Helena’s eyes grew bigger as the amount grew and finally she exclaimed, “We have $100.28!”

The Joy of Giving

The Christmas gift catalog from Advancing Native Missions came to mind. Even though it was past the holidays, giving to the catalog can happen all year long. The family knew people who worked at ANM, and it was within driving distance from their home. They could even take the donation straight to the office and deliver it in person.

Sarah shared, “Giving to the poor through most organizations feels so distant. We loved the catalog pictures and we got to see people who would benefit from our gifts. It was like being part of a big family.” 

The next day Helena stuffed the 28 cents into her pocket. She collected the “can” and handled it like a baby chick. Cradling it in her lap, she excitedly anticipated giving their “thanksgivings” away.

Helena entered the ANM lobby like a bottle of soda ready to explode. “We want to give you some money to help missionaries!” She radiated joy, and her smile showed every dimple on her face. Her eyes sparkled as she and Sarah waited for someone to take their donation.

Ron Miller appeared from the receipting department and Helena jumped up and told him to cup his hands. She then poured the contents of the can into his palms saying, “That is $100!  Mommy wants to buy a bag of rice, Daddy wants to give medicines, and I want to purchase 200 frogs! Frogs lay lots of eggs and when they are full grown they help pastors, underground churches and persecuted believers.” She then dug out the 28 cents from her pocket. “You can put this wherever you want.”

Visit the ANM Gift Catalog to give any time.

Header image: Stock photo.

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Dee writes for ANM's Marketing team.

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