Members of a Chicago church who were given $500 each made possible from a real estate deal the church received are using their share to help various programs and initiatives around the city.
LaSalle Church, handed out $500 to each of its congregants back in September and urged them to use the money to bless someone else. According to their pastor, Laura Truax, that's exactly what they have done.
Truax says she learned the concept in the part of the Gospel where Jesus teaches that wherever people's hearts are, that's where they will spend their money.
"Those things are so connected," said Truax to The Christian Post. "Heart and money are completely connected. And I feel like I get a front row seat on that."
She shared various testimonies, revealing what some of the people have done with the money.
Married couple Janet and Jim Milkovich donated their portion to a health food program called Breakthrough Urban Food Ministries that helps to provide healthy meals to many people throughout the city including older people with its Fresh Market Pantry initiative.
"It was wonderful," Janet Milkovich told CP. "The manager of the Fresh Market Pantry said that there are a lot of senior citizens on the west side of Chicago that depend on the fresh market and are so appreciative of produce and they were going to make sure that they were able to get healthy food."
One of the church's members Betty Mickel and her husband used the money to fund a Chicago after-school program named By The Hand. The couple combined their two $500 checks to make it a $1000 dollar donation, added $1000 of their own money and gave it to By The Hand which is currently having a donor match so their contribution ended up being around $4000 altogether.
"Their $500 investment now doubled because they doubled it, and joined forces together," said Truax. [They have] now given $4000 to By The Hand."
Truax also discussed a single mom in her church that's currently modeling for her 9-year-old what it's like to be generous. Part of this demonstration included the two going to Goodwill stores and purchasing used kid books which they cleaned up and donated to various libraries and pre-schools in low income areas. They are also hosting an ice cream Sunday night this Wednesday for all of the homeless people in the area.
"We have a food program every Wednesday night, so we already have a lot of people coming through the door," she said. "But as her 9-year-old said, when do these people ever get to eat ice cream. They'll be serving to about 150 homeless guys."
One of the church's members took to overseas to extend the blessing to someone. LaSalle attendee Eric Larson contributed his money to a missionary friend in the Ivory Coast to use it for a woman who had been cast out by her family. Her leg needed to be amputated due to an infection. Eric found out that she needed a prosthetic leg and he was shocked at how much it would cost them.
"What he was struck by was the amount that was needed which was exactly $500," she said. "So Eric's money went to this woman in the Ivory Coast who needed a prosthetic leg. This is just the way God does it though, right?"
LaSalle was able to give the $500 gifts to its congregation members when it received $1.6 million from a real estate deal. After receiving the money, they decided to distribute 10 percent of it to the congregation for them to use it to bless someone.
Truax says the decision to distribute the money was inspired by Jesus' parable of the talents.
"I was so struck by this being a gift to the church and the church needing to do something that was about God's business with it. So the 10 percent, it wasn't my idea. I was praying about it and I was reading that parable and I just felt like a place of faith would be for all the congregation to have skin in the game with this."
LaSalle still has not decided what it will do with the other $1.4 million, however, Truax says keeping it is not an attractive option.
"That's the economy of God, we weren't created to be tight fisted people, we were created to be open handed people," she said. "To move past our fear. That's what's going on."