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More than Philanthropy

As Lent 2021 came to an end, our family gathered up all the toys in the house and dumped them into our playroom. From there, as a family, we reorganize the toys and then each kid finds 3-5 of their toys and sets them aside as a donation to local organizations to find homes for these toys for kids less fortunate than ours. We have been doing this Lenten tradition for about 3 years now, and we do a similar process during Advent, all thanks to the minds at @Catholicstuffyoushouldknow ! I have seen the fruits of this process already in my oldest kids.

Kids love toys and they love having ownership over “their” toys, but this process has helped them become less attached to their things. It has also provided Nikki and I an avenue for discussing why it is good to give when we can. This year, our oldest picked out a Lightning McQueen car ramp and he said he was so excited to donate it because he knew another kid was going to have lots of fun with it. What a beautiful insight from my son. At his age, he was already able to see how his sacrifice or gift could be used for the good of another individual.

However, this type of giving is NOT supposed to end there. For if it did, the highest calling of Christianity would be philanthropy. Then, what about those who cannot give? Are they less Christian than us? Furthermore, what would make Christianity any different from Humanism? For me, The answer to these questions lies in Good Friday and Easter Sunday. 

When we give in little ways, we start to learn to give in big ways and then in the ultimate way. That ultimate way of giving is to give our life to the Love and will of God. That is what Christ exemplifies in His life and it is no more pointed than when Christ prays in the garden, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” I believe this is one of the most difficult prayers to pay, but it is one all Christians are called to pray!

So, it is no surprise that it is this kind of giving that this world is not comfortable with! To will the good of the other at any cost, even the cost of one’s own life. Furthermore, to be willing to make that sacrifice for your enemies or those who may not reciprocate your sacrificial love. Christ died on the cross for every single person who existed in the past, exists in the present, and will exist in the future. His love is infinite, which means that He was able to go to the cross for each individual in perfect love. That is true for even those who mock His words and deny Him; Christ died lovingly for them, leaving the door perpetually open for them to accept His Love.

That, as scary as it sounds, is what we are called to do in this life. To give without reserve to our enemy. To give when it isn’t comfortable or fair. To give in such a way that is foolish in the eyes of this world. That type of giving is more than philanthropy, it is charity in its most pure sense. This charity is possible when we look to Easter and see that this world has no power over this kind of love; therefore, who and what should we fear?

I sincerely believe it is this purest charity that is required by the pro-life generation. One that does not count the cost it takes to serve women and their unborn children in every circumstance. This type of love is required by all of us, but it will look different in each of our lives.

Many of you may know that I am married to the most amazing woman in the world who also serves as the Executive Director of Biking for Babies. I would like to tell her story from my point of view in hopes that it inspires you to listen to the craziest, most authentically loving, adventurous plan that God has for your life.

In 2013, the year we were married, Nikki started an amazing corporate job, and throughout the years, she was moving up the ladder quickly. Nikki’s success at work was quite the blessing for our family as it gave us enough financial security to allow me to undergo not 1, but 2 graduate programs while Nikki supported our growing family.

After the birth of our 4th child, about 2.5 years ago, she was in line for an amazing promotion, one that, admittedly, would have made our lives a lot easier. At the same time, Nikki and I were both volunteering on the executive team for Biking for Babies, which was growing rapidly as an organization. There was a need for a full-time executive director who could fundraise their salary and other costs of the organization. Sarah Wiese, our current Director of Missionary Formation, was discerning the position; Nikki and I even pledged to help her get started.

One day, out of nowhere, I had the thought: what if Nikki was the executive director? I thought about it for 2 weeks but didn’t really say anything because Nikki loved her job! One day, I mentioned it in the kitchen assuming she would dismiss the idea quickly. However, thank God my wife is more in tune with the Holy Spirit than I am! She was shocked for only a moment, but then it was all she could pray about and think about.

We had a lot of questions: would the salary be enough to support our family, what if Nikki couldn’t fundraise her salary, would I have to stop my program? We didn’t have answers, but we prayed and asked for God’s direction.

Nikki finally talked to Sarah who, in prayer prior to this conversation, did not feel called to be the Executive Director but to serve the organization in another manner. At that moment, we all knew this was Nikki’s calling. Did we have answers? Still no, but we prayed for trust and the support of our community to make this plan possible. As you can imagine, Nikki’s corporate employers were…um, surprised, to say the least. She turned down the promotion and told them she was quitting her amazing job that she loved for so many years. I’ll never forget that week because she was getting so many calls from people she worked with as they tried to figure out ways to get Nikki to stay. I must say, when Nikki made it clear this was the final decision, her old co-workers and bosses were extremely supportive.

Our live changed in a matter of days, and in true Biking for Babies fashion, our community, our family, and our friends where exactly where we trusted they would be – standing side-by-side with Nikki in this crazy adventure.

Our trust in God proved to me the point of this blog, that Biking for Babies is more than philanthropy. It is a community oriented around carrying our crosses, helping each other carry each other’s crosses as we all follow the example of our Lord and Savior knowing that this sacrificial love and community will someday participate fully in the Easter mystery.

I do not know what God has in store for your life, but today I ask you to find a quiet place and listen. He is calling you and this pro-life generation to do something that is beyond philanthropy and looks a lot more like His cross and, most importantly, His glorious Resurrection.