In 1984, my family had an encounter with a carafe filled with spiced tea and a lovely lady from Georgia who wanted to help us get well. It was so impacting, I wrote about it in my book Rahab’s Place, and it attempts to show up in every story I write.
The carafe lived in Debi’s hope chest for five years. When she poured my coffee from it, I asked her if it was a wedding gift, she said, “Dad, don’t you remember that night when we were all so sick and that lady told us she wanted to help us get well?” Those words released into me warmth that returns every time I see a carafe or read those words. It evokes the prophet’s words of friends who came to sit near his warming fire to help him get well.
For several years, I have felt the call of God to walk next to people and pour into their lives. Isn’t that what the Holy Spirit does?
A second story connects. Before we built the new garage, I found a hole in front of the old shed. I attempted to fill it with coffee cans of dirt and gravel. When that didn’t fill the hole, I poured in five-gallon buckets of dirt and gravel. When we built the new garage, the backhoe uncovered an old cistern which a large rodent was using as summer cottage. There on a ledge of that cistern was a pitiful pile of rocks and dirt that I thought would fill the hole.
If you’ve tried to “pour into people,” you have discovered that some folks are so empty they appear to be bottomless pits. But a far greater issue for me has been that I have not known what to “pour into” them. And where I will find the infinite supply if I ever find what it is that the person needs.
And they seldom know what they need.
In the book, Influencer, (McGraw-Hill, 2008) the researchers-writers tell about a Nobel Prize winner named Muhammad Yunus. After receiving his doctorate in economics, he returned home to Bangladesh to teach at a university. He rediscovered tens of thousands starving to death within sight of his university windows. He investigated the “acute and chronic poverty. It was not (due to the) indolence of the poor.” They worked hard but were unable to make adequate wages.
“After interviewing 42 people in one village, he was shocked to discover that the biggest barrier was not energy, but capital.” Yunus ended his research with an answer to the dilemma. One change would move people from poverty to self-supporting and to wealth in some cases. That one change would be for the people to secure and pay back a business loan.
“In total, the 42 people he interviewed needed a paltry $27 to finance their businesses.”
Thirty years later, Dr. Yunus runs a multimillion dollar banking and business conglomerate that (and I quote!) “has helped more than 100 million people…out of poverty.” (page 172)
Walking beside people means to spend enough time with them that you begin, at least, to get a hint of what needs to be poured into them. For those who rise out of the bottomless pit one trait will be seen in them: they will commit to participate in their own healing.
The first five people to whom Dr. Yunus loaned money were required to:
- build a tribe,
- write their own business plans and then
- co-sign the notes of the other four.
These are the needed gifts to know what needs to be poured: Biblical community (tribe), discernment, Word of Knowledge, Word of Wisdom, venture capital.
$27. Five people.
Pour. But what? I suggest: edification, encouragement, equipping, empowering—to start.
D. Dean Benton
Benton Quest House