“He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
In 1972, Norman and Zilpha Cox purchased a wooded lot with a stream running through the back of the property. With a future wide open, this young couple imagined the possibilities. The land could allow them to build a house to raise a family in, or a place to erect a small, rustic cabin for periodic getaways and for others to enjoy. Four decades later, with their family grown and the thoughts of retreating to a secluded cabin long gone, the land remained unoccupied and undeveloped. Over the years, the Coxes tried to sell the land but without success. What they discovered was that it isn’t easy to sell land with limited road access, no easily accessible utilities, in an area so heavily wooded it is difficult to even find their particular parcel.
In 2014, Norman and Zilpha wanted to invest in the building project for the Academy of G.O.D., where their grandchildren attend. They had witnessed the drastic improvement of their eldest granddaughter when she transferred from another school to the Academy. Thankful for the opportunity afforded their grandchildren, they wanted to do something that would allow for more children to share in this positive learning environment. Even though they are retired and their fixed income is modest, they prayed about what to do and then responded in faith by contributing what they could.
In addition to a monetary donation, the Coxes gave the deed to the land they purchased over 40 years ago. They donated land they could not use and had not been able to sell. Without knowing the giver, this might appear to be a form of “giving out of your abundance” – giving to God that which costs you little (Luke 21:1). But when they donated the land, they donated something with it—a commitment to prayer. While our organization tried to sell the land, they prayed continually. At first, we encountered unexpected difficulty. Not only were we unable to sell the land ourselves, we couldn’t find a realtor that would represent us. It seemed everyone we contacted considered that the land was not worth enough money and therefore not worth their professional efforts. We contacted every other property owner in the area, people who owned undeveloped lots for nearly as long as the Coxes had. They shared a common story—“we can’t sell our land.” During this process, which lasted for months, Mr. Cox would stop by and ask how things were going. When we told him we were not yet having success, he nodded and reminded us that he and his wife were praying. Shortly after one of his visits, we called another realtor who agreed to list the property.
Last month, the property sold for double the amount we were told it was worth in the current market. Anxious to share the good news with the Coxes, I called them. I expected Mr. Cox to be surprised considering the futility of his efforts to sell the land and the difficulty we had had so far. He was not surprised. He expressed, instead, thankfulness to God for answered prayer. “My wife and I prayed and trusted that God would use this for good—maybe not in the time or way we expected, but he would use it if we gave it,” said Mr. Cox.
When you give to a non-profit, you receive a year-end statement that reflects the amount of your contribution. What that statement cannot show is the heart of the giver. It cannot distinguish those who give “out of their abundance” from those who give “more than all of them.” This testimony is the Coxes’ ‘year-end statement’ acknowledging their heart of obedience, prayer, and faith. They trusted God to provide for the good work done in his name at the Academy of G.O.D. and they were not disappointed.