Ministry Offers Solution for Over-Accumulation of Christmas “Stuff”

Ministry Offers Solution for Over-Accumulation of Christmas “Stuff”

The best way to battle the clutter is to give it away! 

Yorba Linda, California, January 1, 2008 

While some retailers may bemoan a slower-than-desired holiday season, Americans still spent an astounding amount of money on Christmas gifts this year. Online purchasing, in particular, was particularly strong in 2007, with spending at record highs. “Cyber Monday”—the Monday after Thanksgiving—saw spending of $733 million dollars, a 21 percent increase over the same day last year (source: comScore, Inc.). But now that the holidays have come and gone, after weeks of frenetic buying and accumulating, for many families, all that’s left is a pile of “stuff.” 

Ali Eastburn, Executive Director of With This Ring, offers a challenge to Christians who have accumulated more this Christmas than they’ll ever need or use: Give It Away. Ali speaks from her own experience in this area. In 2007, she sold her wedding ring after confronting herself with how much it was worth and how much good could be done with that money. With the proceeds from her wedding ring, Ali helped to fund a clean water project in Africa and founded a new ministry called With This Ring. 

It is not exactly the message the diamond industry would want to send: 

If you want to make a difference, give a kiss but not with Kay. You can give it all away! 

But that’s the message With This Ring believes that Christians need to hear and heed after Christmas this year.  

With This Ring exists to encourage Christians to offer their possessions—even their most precious ones—to God in radical acts of sacrificial giving. In the midst of a society gripped with materialism, Executive Director Ali Eastburn loves to share her story of how God broke that grip in her own life. Through speaking engagements and other resources, With This Ring promotes a lifestyle of generosity among Christians who desire to make a difference in the world.

The Christmas Wreath

While shopping for food right before Christmas, I noticed a box of beautiful pine wreaths near the register. Though the wreaths didn’t cost a lot, my husband and I had decided to adhere to a strict budget this year so we could give more back to God and I only had enough cash for food that night. Even if I’d had enough for a wreath, I knew it wasn’t the wisest choice for our money.

 

I walked away from that market a little sad because I’d always wanted a fresh pine wreath. Then I threw a little party. The guest list was short—it was a private pity party between me and God!

 

The next day I came home from work to a huge box on the table. The aroma hit me first–unmistakably pine! To my shock and amazement, I was looking at the most beautiful pine wreath I have ever seen—complete with glass ornaments, lights and a huge red and gold wire bow.

 

It was sent from some new friends we had made who live over a thousand miles away. How on earth could they have known?

 

I quickly realized that God knew. Even though it was just some silly desire on my part, my Father in heaven wanted to bless me and show me that as I follow His will for my life, He will be busy taking care of all of my needs. (And sometimes desires as well!)

 

I renewed my decision to be obedient in the grocery store, and God saw fit to lavish me with a small luxury!

 

When was the last time you made a decision to be obedient to Christ, and then saw the floodgates of heaven pour out blessing on you?

You want me to give up WHAT?

What would you think of your wife if she called you up while you were at a conference to say that she’s selling her 1 ½ carat diamond wedding ring so that she could start a charity called With This Ring?

 

My husband Ken was amazingly supportive. And yet, he (and his conference friends) weren’t so sure that there would be other women willing to give up their wedding rings for a cause.

 

Well, I just had to prove them wrong. After all God gave me the vision. God gave me the charity name. Surely God would provide…and provide He did!

 

I called six women the Lord led me to. Four of which said that this was something they would do if their husbands were okay with it.

 

And that, my friend, is only the beginning.

 

Are you willing to sacrifice your wedding ring, the diamond from your wedding ring, or another cherished possession to help people in this world who don’t even have clean water to drink? From your abundance what is God calling you to sacrifice for His name’s sake? What is He asking you to sacrifice it for?

We’ve GOT to talk to this guy!

Not a week had passed since that fateful Bible study retreat and I was on my way to meet Ken and attend a different conference.

 

I was having a hard time concentrating on the conference presentations because I was on fire for With This Ring. All I wanted to do was share the vision that God had bestowed upon me.

 

When I came to breakfast, late as usual, I saw a man sitting with some people from our church and drawing on a piece of paper. He had been to my husband’s lecture the day before and heard our church’s history. He said he thought that we were the “weirdest thing goin’” and he wanted to learn more about us.

 

As I sat down with my two cups of coffee, and toothpicks to prop my eyes open, he was drawing a diagram of some steps. He talked about how transformational giving is the thing missing in the body of Christ. He talked about three different aspects of giving. The one that is most powerful though, he said, is when you give and expect nothing back in return.

 

The toothpicks flew out of my eyes, I elbowed my husband and said, “We’ve got to talk to this guy!” We waited until everyone got up from the table and approached him. We explained that we needed to talk with him—he said he was really busy. We said we really needed to talk to him—he said that his company was very selective with their clients. We said we really needed to talk to him—he said that everybody gets the same free hour and that the advice would be just as good for a client or a non-client.

 

This man is the founder of a marketing company for Christian ministries called DOTW (Doers Of The Word). I told him the vision for With This Ring—his eyes lit up.

 

He said that there are times when there is an altar but there is no fire from God. He said that this was an altar and a fire, and he believed it to be from God. He told us that he would go home and pray about working with us.

 

When we got home the next day, there was an email from him that said he and his wife had prayed about it, and she said that he could not, not help us.

 

This was the beginning of a year long process in which God did many things to grow me up. And just when it seemed the fire had become a flicker, the Holy Spirit began to flare up.

 

When have you experienced an altar with no fire, or a fire with no altar? When have you seen God provide an altar and a fire? What happened next?

Not a Mamby Pamby Christian

I forgot to share with you another event from that fateful weekend at the Bible Study retreat.

 

No, God did not call me to give up cooking for my family, or scooping dog poop.

 

God did give me insight that I can really only appreciate in hindsight.

 

At one point during the retreat we were asked to take fifteen minutes or so and write a letter to Jesus. At the top of my journaling page is a scripture written in my handwriting. With God as my witness, I don’t remember writing it—this is what it says:

 

Matt. 23:25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy-full of greed and self-indulgence!”

 

Under that I wrote this letter to Jesus.

 

Oh Jesus! Thank you for loving me! I know that there’s nothing I’ve done to deserve your love or forgiveness. Mold me, make me into what you want me to be. Break these ugly scales off of my life that I’ve built up over the years. Help me not to make new ones. Help me to hold my things and my life with an open hand that is willing to sacrifice what you call me to. Help me to realize that it’s not “mine” but yours anyway. I want to be a radical woman of God. Not a mamby pamby Christian but a woman who seeks you and follows you with “reckless abandonment.” I want to be used. I want you to use me to do awesome miraculous life changing things for your kingdom and your glory. I don’t want to live in fear, but I want to go out with the confidence that you direct my steps, and you go with me. Help me to be this person of love and faith with my family and myself as much as I am with others. I want to be authentic 100% of the time. Not part time. Help me to recognize my own weaknesses and seek victory in you instead of looking at the weaknesses in others. Make me a pioneer, a trail blazer, a visionary for you and your glory alone. It’s not about me, it’s all about you. I love you, Ali

 

Every time I reread that letter I am amazed because I had no idea what was about to be asked of me. Not that I would do anything differently, I just didn’t realize the intensity of the requests I had made of God. It was as if He was leading my hand to write those things.

 

What bold requests have you made of God? What adventures have those requests led to?