I once read a statistic which claimed it takes just $1 for a missionary to reach a person with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, for every dollar spent on missions, one person is won for the Kingdom of God. If that's true, I'm just five returnables away from winning another soul.
Since I tend to teach with simple pictures and stories rather than long drawn out exegesis, I thought it would be fun to prove a point to my congregation. I set out to show them how easy it is to give to missionaries. For two or three months, I collected every returnable pop or beer can I found on the side of the road. I didn't turn in any of my own pop cans... just those that I found somewhere else. By the time our missions convention came, I dragged a large garbage bag of cans out onto the stage, representing about $10, or ten real people who would hear about Jesus. What did it cost me? Nothing but my time and the chance to burn a calorie or two by simply bending over and picking up a can.
Trouble is, it was so much fun that I haven't stopped. Wintertime isn't really the best time to find cans and bottles, so I've only turned in $4.50 this year. But now that the snow is melting, it's a virtual gold mine out there! On my evening walk tonight, I picked up 5 cans. I feel like a kid in a candy shop every time I run across a can that someone has carelessly left behind.
You have to understand... missionaries are my heroes. Not some Hollywood star, singer or overpaid sports figure. Missionaries. I look up to them. I respect them for what they do, and I'll do whatever it takes to partner with them. But honestly, after we support our church missions program, our sponsored child through World Vision, a missionary couple dear to our hearts that we support on our own, and our friends at Mission of Hope in Haiti, we're tapped out. There's nothing left for my favorite pet project, Speed the Light - which provides vehicles for missionaries to get around. So... STL gets the cans. And let me tell you, it's SO much fun.
So to all the litterbugs out there, I don't much like the fact that you show disrespect for God's creation by throwing your trash around. But I do feel like I owe you some sort of thanks for all the returnables. Just do me this one little favor... when you see a balding middle aged guy parked along the side of the off-ramp, excitedly picking up a discarded can of Squirt from a muddy ditch, just slow down a bit and give him a break.
And if you have an extra can or two... toss them to him gently, okay?