For the past several years, one mainstay of my Lenten devotionals has been the fine resources created by Catholic Relief Services’ CRS Rice Bowl program. It’s very easy for me to recommend Rice Bowl because I have seen firsthand the work done around the world that is undertaken via our small Lenten almsgiving sacrifices. So when CRS invited me to speak of this work, I was happy to be a part of their Lenten video series. In the video, you will hear me refer to the role of the “innkeeper” in stewardship. I’m serious when I say here that uniting my giving with the work of CRS is also an act of placing trust in an “innkeeper.”
My travels with CRS have taken me into genocide reconciliation groups in Rwanda. I have worked soybean fields alongside Tanzanian mothers and learned about fair-trade coffee processing from Colombian growers who chose to step away from the perils of illicit farming. I have witnessed savings and lending communities meeting in small villages that lack basic banking services. I’ve seen students come running with smiles on their faces when a CRS labeled truck drives onto their street.
It’s clear to me that CRS Rice Bowl has changed lives. Yes, the lives of those in need. But mine as well.
The work CRS does around the world is sometimes most visible in moments of disaster when their immediate relief efforts feed and shelter those in need. But around the world, our small Lenten acts of “almsgiving” also truly make long-term change possible for families in need. But since Lent is not simply about sacrificing, the Rice Bowl team has also compiled beautiful resources to help us pray and fast this Lent. As we anticipate Ash Wednesday, I invite you to join me in not squandering an opportunity to truly act upon what Jesus taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Since need is not only overseas but also right in our own communities, using Rice Bowl during Lent enables us to give to our own neighbors as well. Per CRS, “25 percent of gifts remain in each U.S. diocese where they are given to hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in those communities. Each diocese uses this differently. Contact your local CRS Diocesan Director to find out how the local 25 percent is used in your diocese.” I’ve had the pleasure of not only speaking with but also teaching alongside my region’s CRS representative. I know that his heart for those in need mirrors my own desire to use my gifts to help live out acts of mercy.
For me, CRS and Rice Bowl specifically are an “innkeeper” I can trust. I’d love to hear from you about the groups, organizations and charities you choose to support all year long. Please leave a comment below with a link and help me discover new ways to emulate the actions of the Good Samaritan this Lent.
Copyright 2018 Lisa Hendey