Gordon in the News: last updated 09/21/2012

The Parable of the Talents, Gordon Style

“You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.”

This exhortation was at the heart of President Michael Lindsay’s charge to the Gordon student body during the September 12 Chapel service: to take seriously Jesus’ message on stewardship as expressed in the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25: 14–30; also Luke 19: 21–28).

“Talents can mean skills and attributes and abilities,” he said, “and that’s all part of the blessing that you are asked to give to others. But a talent is also a unit of money; it also means our finances.” Referring to his inaugural address last September 16, Lindsay stressed the need to “elevate the contribution that we make to one another and to the wider world. “You can’t take it with you—but you can send it on ahead.”

“This morning I want to share a gift with you,” Lindsay said, as ushers passed out envelopes to each student in the sanctuary. Each of the envelopes contained a copy of the morning’s Scripture reading, along with money—ranging from $1 to $100—a gift to the student body from his and Mrs. Lindsay’s own funds. He challenged the students to put the parable of the talents into action, and to report back what they had done with the money. “I want you to pray about this, to think strategically about it. I want to see ‘savvy grace’ happen.”

A survey of the student body taken a week later provides not just varied approaches to the experiment, but an intriguing survey of the hearts and minds of the Gordon community. Student responses included:

Acts of kindness

“My friend was thirsty, so I gave her money to buy water with.”

“I placed my dollar on the dishes conveyer belt in Lane.”

“I bought sunflowers and gave them away to people I didn’t know.”

 “I bought some chocolate at the bookstore for a first-year international student that I got to know this semester and wrote a small note of encouragement and thanks for friendship (via Gordon mailroom).”

“Some of my friends and I decided to pool our money together to buy a big bucket of cookie dough to make cookies for our floor.”

“I combined my money with some of my teammates from baseball, and we bought two people’s meals in the food court in the North Shore Mall.”

“I had one dollar so I thought the best way to pay it forward would be to buy a snack from the snack machine and leave in the machine. My hope was that someone that needed food but had no money on them would be able to take advantage of it.”

“I invested my money and added some of my own money to pay the toll fare for the car behind me while driving home last weekend.”

“My parents always send me cards and care packages; and when they come to visit, they always make me feel so special. I used my $1.00 to send a little care package back home to let them know I’m thinking about them too.”

“I put the dollar in an envelope with a letter that explained what I was doing. I then chose a random name from the mailbox list by the mail room and sent it off to them anonymously. I said in the letter than I hoped it made their day and suggested that they use it to somehow make someone else’s day.”

“My floor (Chase 2 South) made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and gave them to physical plant with cards saying thank you.”

“When I received my dollar, it had an ‘18’ written on one side of it in blue ink. Having become familiar with and deeply affectionate toward my Jewish roots as a Christian, I remembered that in Judaism ‘18’ is the number which signifies life. I decided that somehow, my contribution would be associated with the Jewish community. Conveniently, this Sunday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I passed the money along to a peer in the Gordon community as a simple contribution in gas money for his car; he offered to drive three other students and myself to a synagogue service in Salem to celebrate the new year. While he’s not Jewish himself, he enabled us as Christians to go and celebrate with and commune with our Jewish brothers and sisters during a special time of year for them. I hoped my small contribution would reveal my gratefulness for making the evening possible.”

“I bought a one-dollar cake mix (Shake and Pour) to make for a friend’s birthday. Some of my friends bought the frosting and candles, etc. She is new on campus coming from Hong Kong. I wanted her to feel and home at Gordon, even though for her it might not be a normal birthday experience.”

Entrepreneurial efforts

“I sent the dollar to my mother. She is going to order something on clearance through Christopher & Banks with the dollar (she can normally get things that were $80–100 for $3.99 on clearance). She will then take what she ordered from Christopher & Banks to Labels (a local small consignment store). Labels sells new and used items at discounted prices, making these clothes available to those who normally can’t afford them. My mother will then take the money she gets from Labels (which is 50% of what Labels sells it for) to the church. The church then donates that money to an orphanage.”

“Actually, I have not spent my dollar as of yet.  My plan is to save the dollar and add at least 25 cents per day (or whatever extra pocket change I have if there’s more) along with it from the day I received it in chapel until the first of December, which should add up to just over $20. With this money, I’m going to buy gifts for a child for Christmas from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program. I am a Salvationist and have volunteered to ‘man’ the table at the Bangor Mall since I was a little girl, but it is so much more rewarding to actually spend your own money on someone in need than simply your time.”

“The dollar I received will be matched by a dollar from my own wallet and sent to my Bible Study teacher in China. He will then exchange the two dollars for twelve yuan and distribute the money according to the number of teenagers that come to Bible study that day, giving them the same challenge that I have received. The next week, each person will share how they spent their money. (One yuan is enough money to buy breakfast for two people in Yanji, the city in China I am from.)”

“I gave it to my friend so he could buy a toothbrush. Then, when I got back to my dorm, my roommate gave me a dollar for the time I bought her a donut at Marty’s. Then I used this dollar to invest in my floor’s money hat to spend on the bathroom. We now have two nice shower rugs and two pretty curtains for the showers. Money well invested in both instances I’d say!”

Tithes and offerings

“I gave it as part of my offering at church. Ironically, it was about a tithe on my current assets.”

“Although it might seem mundane and uncreative, I used the dollar I received as an offering to my church last Sunday. My church has been struggling financially (the estimated expenses always exceeded the budget) and I thought I should help out my spiritual home before anything else.”

Strength in numbers 

“There is a great need for children’s books for their library in Lynn, which at the moment could probably all fit into my backpack. Last night, we collected all our money and other resources for this coming Saturday, and headed out to Barnes and Nobles to purchase children’s books for the kids in the College Bound program. In each book, we will write a letter to the children and we will be going with the books and will read to the kids and spend time with them sometime within the month.”

“Along with the softball team, I sent my dollar to a friend’s brother and sister-in-law who had a still birth over the summer and are founding an organization in her honor to support other families who are learning to cope with the grief of stillbirth and miscarriage.”

“I combined my dollar with some friends and the soccer team to help raise money for breast cancer awareness.”

“Our organic chemistry lab pulled all of our money together and donated to World Vision.”

“I pooled money with other girls on my floor to buy a ‘drought survival kit’ through Compassion International. This will be donated to a family in need in Uganda.

“Particularly as people began to rally to our idea, I—being largely in charge of the money received—was thrown dollar bills left and right. The important revelation for me, as I was gathering the money to put into a secure place, was to remember that each dollar represented someone wanting to help a cause, and so to appreciate and take care of each investment.”

“My friend Mel is an international student from Kenya, she collected many people’s ‘DML dollars’ to send to an orphanage she is connected to back in Kenya. I gave Mel my dollar for her to send to this orphanage in Kenya.”

“A couple of students put together our $1 bills, collecting a total of $90 and bought candy. We sold the candy and are going to donate the proceeds to Partners in Health, which focus on providing free health care and education to families in developing countries. One of my roommates is Haitian and has interned for P.I.H. and has nothing but good things to say about them and their work in his country. This is the first time that I have ever tried to fund raise and I really believed in our cause. On campus we raised a total of $352.69 the old-fashioned way by going door to door explaining to people what we were doing and they were more than happy to contribute.”

Worthy causes

“I invested in a friend of a Gordon student who wants to go to community college after high school but is lacking funds because her father is disabled and has a hard time getting work. This girl and her father are also dealing with the death of the mother who passed away last spring and the brother who pasted away two years ago.”

“Growing up as a missionary kid in Africa, my heart reached out to the Kenyan kids during chapel. Because a single dollar can feed up to three children, I wanted to do something in order to save lives back home. I asked people who didn’t know what they were doing with their dollars to give me theirs in order to send it all to Mai Mahiu Orphanage, an orphanage I worked with at home. I ended up gathering a little over 50 dollars and will be sending it in this afternoon.”

“I was at United Night of Worship (UNOW) in Boston on Saturday night and they took a collection to help pay for event from this year and for next year.”

“I donated my dollar to a student who was collecting money for a donation to the World Health Organization.”

“I gave it towards my cousin’s cancer treatment. She had a benefit on Sunday and I donated it along with much more to her getting better.”

“Since the purpose was to spend the money we were given, I looked up interesting ways to change someone’s life with a dollar. Turned out that with the World Food Programme, you can fill 4 nutritious meals for starving people in developing countries for just a dollar!”

“I sent my dollar and some of my own money to the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund. Lauren Astley was one of my friends who was murdered by her boyfriend on July 3rd 2011. The Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund helps to create educational programs for young men and women to educate them about unhealthy relationships and how to build solid and loving relationships. Lauren was a truly beautiful person and I donated this in her memory, so that other young women will be encouraged to seek help.”

“In my senior year of high school I founded a non profit organization called My Body is a Temple (www.mbiat.org—site is under reconstruction right now but you can still check it out!). Basically, I designed t shirts that say My Body is a Temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and gave the profit to World Vision. I have sort of let the organization fall by the wayside and I feel that God is calling me to start it up again. So I am investing my dollar for the equipment/materials needed to do so!”

“After graduating high school, I took a gap year and lived in Paraguay for the year. During my time there I worked at a support center for people (adults and children) with HIV/AIDS. The poorest of the poor from all over Paraguay come to this center because everything is free. Free meals twice a day, free medications, free food supplies, free clothing, etc. But the only way this is possible is because they run completely on donations. Any and everything donated to this center is used for the great good. So I sent my $20 to my parents, who still live in Paraguay, to take over to the AIDS center. $20 there is more than we could imagine here in the U.S.A.”