Little Alvan Harold liked hearing coins jingling in his pocket as he walked home from school in Kisumu, Kenya. Then he could stop by a shop and buy some crunchy nuts or a creamy ice cream.
One day, the Bible teacher shocked Alvan by talking about his beloved pocket money to his fifth-grade class.
“You should not spend all your pocket money on nuts and ice cream during the week but save some to give to God on Sabbath,” she said.
Alvan put money in the offering place on Sabbath. It was money that his father gave him on Sabbath morning.
Teacher spoke about that money, too.
“When you give money from your parents in church, you are only giving for your parents,” she said. “You aren’t giving your own money.”
She opened up Malachi 3:8 and read, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.”
Alvan thought that Teacher was criticizing him, and he didn’t like that. But then he thought, “Maybe she is just a little bit right.”
It was Thursday, and Alvan had already spent all his pocket money for that week. He decided to save some money for God the next week. But the next week, he again spent all his money before Sabbath. This happened again the following week.
Two months passed, and Alvan was terribly disappointed with himself. He thought, “I’m trying so hard, but I’m not managing to save any money for offering.”
One day, he and his 17-year-old brother, Allan, passed an ice cream shop as they walked home. Alvan had a 20-shilling coin (U.S. 20 cents) in his pocket, and he decided to spend it on ice cream.
But Allan stopped him. “You don’t need it,” he said. “It’s childish to walk around eating ice cream. I won’t walk around with someone eating ice cream.”
Alvan was annoyed. He wanted ice cream, but he couldn’t argue with his older brother. So he didn’t buy it.
When Sabbath arrived, he still had the 20 shillings in his pocket. He put the coin in the offering plate together with 20 shillings that his parents had given that morning. It felt good to give his own money to God. He had given up something that he really wanted for the offering money, and he suddenly realized that it wasn’t such a loss.
The next week, Alvan managed to save another 20 shillings, and he gave it as offering. He liked the feeling! He decided to give 20 shillings every Sabbath — and he has to this day.
To Alvan’s surprise, he has never run out of money again. Before, he never had enough money to last the week. But now he always has enough money to last the week. In fact, he often has more than 20 shillings left over, and he gives the extra money to Father to put into savings.
“I feel like I have more money than before, and I even give my Dad money to keep in savings for me,” he said.
Alvan, who is now 11, has never told his parents about his special offering. He said he doesn’t want to boast about what he is doing.
Sometimes he is tempted to buy nuts or ice cream, but he reminds himself that he must have 20 shillings for God on Sabbath.
“I remind myself that God’s work is better than what I want,” he said.