Deciding Not to Build an Orphanage

 People Would Be Better Served With a Donation

I read a story online this week that intrigued me. The title of the article is West Michigan Attorney Decides Not To Build An Orphanage. It tells of a man listening to a sermon and it went like this:

Kevin Rigg’s sermon told of a wealthy man who wanted to find a way to give back for the blessings God had given him. This man was going to leave his lucrative business and go build orphanages in a poverty stricken part of the world. Kevin Rigg assured the man that the people would be better served with a donation instead of the donated time of a laborer with no construction skills. He explained that, while God did not give him the ability to construct buildings, he did give him the ability to make money.

Listening to that sermon, Shawn Eyestone, was inspired  to start a program in his community.

The program, called Eye on the Community, encourages clients of Mr. Eyestone’s law firm to make donations to selected charities. Beginning in April, the program will feature two charitable organizations every two months. Eyestone Law Offices, PLC will provide its clients a credit for donations made to selected charities for up to 10% of the amount invoiced for legal services.

Shawn EyestoneShawn Eyestone

It made for an inspiring ending. But I was troubled by the advice. My question was, what if the wealthy man had followed his calling and gone off to build orphanages?
History is full of stories of the most unlikely people accomplishing amazing things. Like David and Lydia Martinez, who founded Orphanage Emmanuel. After all, who were they to think they could start an orphanage? What if they had decided they just didn’t have the qualifications? There would be no Orphanage Emmanuel. No caring and loving home for 500 children. And that would have been a tragedy.

My favorite movie of all time is It’s a Wonderful Life. I watch it every year at Christmastime. In it, a distressed George Bailey wishes he had never been born. With some heavenly intervention, he temporarily gets his wish, and is shown all the lives he has touched and the contributions he has made to his community. He also gets to see how things would have turned out differently had he not been there. If only we had that same opportunity in real life.


I wondered, what would I have said to the wealthy man if I had heard his conversation with the preacher? And then I remembered  the advice of Playwright Neil Simon:

“Don’t listen to those who say, “It’s not done that way.” Maybe it’s not, but maybe you will. Don’t listen to those who say, “You’re taking too big a chance.” Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor, and it would surely be rubbed out by today. Most importantly, don’t listen when the little voice of fear inside of you rears its ugly head and says, “They’re all smarter than you out there. They’re more talented, they’re taller, blonder, prettier, luckier and have connections…” I firmly believe that if you follow a path that interests you, not to the exclusion of love, sensitivity, and cooperation with others, but with the strength of conviction that you can move others by your own efforts, and do not make success or failure the criteria by which you live, the chances are you’ll be a person worthy of your own respect.”


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