Sunday, October 09, 2005


I got pounded last night. My congregation did it to me. It's an old tradition, dating back farther than anyone can remember. Our church has had only one pastor serve for more than five years in it's 100 plus year history. Well, two, counting me. The church is located within driving distance of the denominational seminary, so many years were spent with pastoral students serving until they graduated and moved into bigger churches. That meant a new pastor every two years or so.

To help out a new pastor fresh out of school, the members would present their new pastor with "pounds" -- a pound of flour, a pound of coffee, a pound of sugar, and so on. Since everyone gave a pound, the tradition was called a pounding. Today it's an excuse for celebrating Pastor Appreciation Month. I received no pounds, just some cash gifts, which was fine with me. Years ago, those "pounds" were needed by the pastor's family since the salary was so small. I am constantly amazed how those itinerant preachers lived on next to nothing. Oh, the horror stories I've heard from retired ministers. I'm not sure I could have put up with the poor pay, the forced shifting from one church to another with not even a house to call one's own. I salute my predecessors for all they put up with to answer God's call.

Last night, I was reading through an update from our Global Ministries department. In it were three requests for funding from churches in the Central American country of Nicaragua. Two churches were trying to build some makeshift housing for their pastors. A third was trying to get enough money to finish building their place of worship. These congregations did not simply need to wait a month until the payment schedule worked out, or solicit one of their members to make a nice offering -- they did not have money to finish these projects. The church trying to finish their sanctuary is lacking only $264. But that money isn't forthcoming unless someone in the States steps up. The two churches building housing for their pastors' families are shy $253 and $612. That's all. But the projects are dead in the water until people send them the needed funds.

Living that way is lost on most of us. Even if my little country church was $612 short to finish a building project, it wouldn't take us long to come up with what was needed. A $250 donation would probably be covered by one family. In bigger churches, single gifts of that size happen every week, many times over. Yet in Nicaragua, a pound of this and a pound of that would indeed make a huge difference in the lives of these people.

I deeply appreciate the pounding given to me by the people of my congregation. But it seems that those gifts would accomplish a whole lot more a couple of thousand miles south of here. Something just might have to be done about that.

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