The Generosity of the Poor

Read: Luke 21:1-4

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us . . . if it is giving, then give generously. (Romans 12:6, 8 NIV)

We were new missionaries, having lived among the Tzeltals only six months. Francisco Gomez, the Tzeltal pastor, had planned a six-week missionary trip to the lowland area of the tribe. We were thrilled when he said we could go with him. There was no better way to learn the language and culture of the Tzeltals.

At that time these Mayan-descended people had so little. They were subsistence farmers, living in dirt-floored, thatch-roofed huts. But on our entire trip, never once were we hungry.

One day we were stopped on the trail by a Christian who begged us to come into her humble home for refreshment. Her husband had found a beehive. She had boiled chunks of golden brown squash in honey and offered each of us a bowl of this rare treat. The Tzeltals seldom had sweets to enjoy, yet she eagerly shared with her visitors.

Another day, we were served chicken stew in five different homes. Everyone wanted to feed us. The Tzeltals themselves rarely ate chicken. Their eggs and chickens were their only source of cash for salt, soap, and medicine.

Their generosity was made all the more beautiful by their poverty. This was another lesson for us: to give as generously from our abundance as the Tzeltals had out of their poverty. —Helen Hofman

As you pray, ask God to show you how you can give abundantly out of what you have been given.

About the Author

Helen Hofman is a retired missionary. She and her husband Sam worked with the Tzeltal and Tojolabal Indians of Chiapas, Mexico for more than forty years. In their work, they helped set up a Bible School to train the Tzeltals, taught in the Bible School, prepared Sunday School materials, textbooks, hymnals and audiovisuals. They also coordinated the translation of the Amatenango Tzeltal New Testament and the revision of the highland Tzeltal Bible.