Learning from Widows

Despite being laid off, one woman is committed to supporting three children.
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Every so often, one of our writers comes across a living example of a famous Bible story. John W. Kennedy, who wrote this month's cover story, "The Not-for-Profit Surge" (page 22), discovered just such a person—a widow from Rye, New Hampshire—during his many interviews.

Like many of the journalists I admire, John has an inclination to do what editors call "over-report." This is a compliment, because when a journalist over-reports, he attains mastery of the details, making his article solid, credible, and airtight. The back story to John's article began in December, when I met with Cynia Solver, head of Christianity Today International's market research. We worked to design an online survey using NationalChristianPoll.com (NCP). In January, we invited NCP's panel of active Christians (1,824 responded) to tell us how the economic meltdown was influencing their giving to independent nonprofit organizations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, Compassion International, and World Vision.

Awaiting the results, I can honestly say that I expected the worst. Starting last year, we witnessed the destruction of more than $35 trillion of global wealth in corporate stocks, bonds, and real estate. Surely even the Christian community would give in to fear, I thought.

Wrong. As I read through the survey report, I found myself reaching for a box of Kleenex. Here was compelling evidence that the body of Christ will step up to the challenge of paying sufficient funds to feed the hungry, shelter the stranger, educate the next generation, and spread the truth of the gospel. Our research report states, "There are almost seven times more respondents who say that they expect their giving in 2009 to be more than who say they expect their ...

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