Today was a day of celebration, a day a year in the making. Today with my 3 year old in tow I sent my most prized possession to a ministry that I believe in with my heart and soul. This past year leading up to this moment has been crazy… and here is why.
Last November I was listening to one of my favorite preachers teach online and he began to share about his wife giving away her wedding ring in order to help people in need of clean water. This idea gripped my heart so I started googling for more information. I came across a ministry called With This Ring. As I read the story of the founder, Ali Eastburn, and how she felt God call her to give her wedding ring, her most prized possession in order to help those that are dying from a lack of clean drinking water I was stunned. I had never, in a million years, thought about giving up something so precious to me but once this idea was inside of me it wouldn’t let go.
You see, God had been speaking to me through the Bible and showing me His heart and my responsibility for the poor and needy. The verses I was reading that day (Matt 25:31-46) even referenced helping someone who was in need. I knew there were water issues in the world but I had no idea the extent or death toll associated with it. Then I watched a video on their current initiative in India and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was supposed to give my diamond engagement ring to this ministry. I immediately emailed the ministry to learn about how to start the process. The next day I spoke to my husband about my call to give this radical gift and his quick and firm answer on the matter was “absolutely not”. I was heartbroken. Although I understood why he felt that way I knew I was supposed to give my ring. So, I had to write Ali back and explain the situation. She responded that she understood and then asked why I wanted to give in the first place. I wrote a pretty long email but all of my thoughts were summed up into two sentences.
“I want to donate my ring because Jesus is thirsty. I want to be able to say that I gave Jesus water with my best.”
What I didn’t know is that my “why” would connect Ali and me in a way neither of us imagined. She had been in a place where she was busy with ministry and all of the good things that come with it but in the “doing” of it all she had lost sight of the original heart that brought her there. My “why” brought her back to the place she was in when God told her to give her ring. She called me the next day and we setup a time to chat on the phone. We started talking and praying every Friday and although I knew I couldn’t give my ring without my husbands blessing, God had already firmly planted this ministry in my heart so I started volunteering for them by helping their office as I could. When Nathan found out I was volunteering he jokingly said “what, are you going to start a With This Ring Georgia?” and I told him if God wanted me to then absolutely… never imagining what was coming next.
Fast-forward to May of 2013, I had been volunteering for With This Ring for six months and even had an opportunity to fly to California to be a part of their yearly fundraising Gala. Ali, after lots of prayer and discussion with her Board, approached me about starting a With This Ring Regional Office in Georgia. This ministry had never had an office outside of the founding office in Yorba Linda, California but God was moving and they all felt like He was going to start this radical generosity movement in the South. I prayed about it and prayed about how to approach Nathan about it and guess what?! He was supportive! Nathan and I prayed and talked (a lot) about what it would look like for me to step away from my current job selling wholesale beef and to step out in faith to start this regional office. I accepted the job in June of 2013 and got to work learning how to share and start this regional office, strangely enough, with my big shiny engagement ring firmly planted on my finger. It felt difficult sometimes to share about this radical giving ministry having never had the opportunity to radically give myself but God even used this story to His glory.
Fast-forward again to October 2013. I am sitting at church with my sweet husband and he looks at me out of the blue and says “well, I have known for a while but I wanted you to know that it is okay for you to give your ring now.” I hadn’t pushed or prodded but just consistently and quietly prayed for this day. I cannot tell you the tidal wave of emotions that hit me all at once. My prayer for a year was for his heart to come to understand my “why” in wanting to give. The love that I felt for him in that moment was truly supernatural. To think that we were able to do this together, share this amazing possession that means the world to both of us in order to help someone who is literally dying from a lack of clean water connects us in a way that I cannot explain with words.
Eleven years ago I had the honor of saying Yes to become Nathan’s wife and now he has stepped out in faith and said Yes to giving our ring to help others. I believe with all of my heart that my ring’s story has come full circle. Lives will be changed because God is faithful and He calls us to step out in faith to Him.
Today I am ringless in Christ and a Radical Giving Ambassador for With This Ring. I have the privilege of sharing about the transformation that happens in us when we open our hands and give God full control over our money, our treasures and our lives. I know without a doubt this is a decision I will never regret.
I love you Nathan Clackum. Thank you for being a rock in my life as God continues to shape me.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”