by Diana and Eric Schonberg
When Eric and I opened our envelopes, we each found $50.00 inside. We prayed about who we could give it to, whether an individual or organization. I went to my Bible Study group and asked if anyone was pooling the money to make a greater impact. Most people in the group had a plan for their money, but we still did not.
The following Sunday at church the sermon was titled “Divine Direction.” Pastor Rusty’s sermon included these words, “God will show you what to do when the moment is right.” I felt God speak to me and knew exactly what we should do with the money.
Since August 2017, I have been writing to a childhood friend who has been on death row for the past 27 years. He told me about friends on death row who have helped him over the years when he was broke and had nothing. I wrote to him and told him about what our church was doing.
When I offered the money, Steven said: “That really surprised me about your church. I hate to say this, but I just talked about being real and saying what we think. I have the view that churches have to get money more than give it. People helping the needy seems like a Christianity Jesus would recognize-and I’m not just saying that because you decided to give me the money.”
After receiving the money in his account at the prison, Steven said, “It makes such a difference when I can buy canteen, and there is really no way to exaggerate this. I’ll buy soap, shampoo, deodorant, T-shirts, boxers, writing paper, envelopes, pens, and food. My friends and I take turns at the cook pot where we share the food we make. Breaking bread or feasting is a good way to have fellowship. I’m also going to buy shoes.
"It means a lot that you were thinking about me when this happened at church. I have big respect for the church doing this as my impression of Jesus is that he was someone who cared about the poor and downtrodden. Do you know what I like best about Jesus? He wasn’t wishy washy. Dude would not hold his tongue, even when dealing with powerful individuals, whether religious or political. He knew hypocrites right off the bat.”
Our hope is that Steven will tell his friends on death row about the way our church, Faith Lutheran, reaches others with the light of God’s hope and love.