Making Change

After a time of home service, it was my first Sunday back as a missionary in the Dominican Republic. I felt right at home in the worship service. But then something I’d seen many times before jumped out at me.

A woman carrying a child walked from bench to bench, extending a basket toward each church member. Each dropped a small offering into the basket. But on several occasions, I saw people reach into the basket to make change.

What would people think if you tried that in your North American church? They’d think you were a tightwad or a stingy giver. But here in the Dominican Republic, where every peso is accounted for, making change from the offering basket is entirely acceptable.

Pastor Santo works in the free zone sewing pants. He makes 800 pesos (a bit more than $25 U.S.) for a 40-hour week. With that he supports his family of four, paying for rent, utilities, food, education, clothing, and doctor visits. Most of the time his family makes ends meet, which is a tribute to their hard work and frugality. But sometimes the ends don’t meet.

Maybe it’s times like these when worshipers have to dip into the offering plate and make change for the small sum deposited. They know the Lord understands their needs and will carry them through hard times as in the past.

Someone calls out, “Blessed be the Father.” The congregation follows in unison. The instruments begin playing; the congregation joins in song. Their troubles are replaced with joy. Yes, God will take care of them.

About the Author

Gary Van Veen and his wife, Pam, are missionaries with Christian Reformed World Missions in the Dominican Republic.

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