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Homeless Person Donates 18 Cents in Church Offering, Congregation Deeply Affected By 'Sacrificial' Gift

( [email protected] ) Apr 30, 2015 12:00 PM EDT

Powerful Gift
An envelope with 18 cents inside was left as an offering at a Charlotte, North Carolina, church last Sunday along with the note, (Photo : WCNC) 

Luke 12:48: "But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required."

A heartwarming story has emerged out of Charlotte, North Carolina, in which an anonymous person gave a priceless offering to a local church.

USA Today reports that last Sunday, someone left a gift of 18 pennies in the church's offering plate along with a simple, but powerful note: "Please don't be mad I don't have much. I'm homeless. God bless."

This week, the story of the 18 cent donation has gone viral, with many comparing it to the story of the poor widow's offering found in the Gospel of Luke. In the account, people gathered at the temple watch as the rich ostentatiously deposit large sums of money into the offering to show off their wealth. But no one notices the poverty-stricken widow, who reaches into her rags to withdraw all she owns--two thin copper coins--and quietly deposits them into the collection box with a look of joy.

However, Jesus Christ notices, and turns to tell his disciples, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."

"I think this represents a sacrificial gift," said the Rev. Patrick Hamrick of First United Methodist Church regarding the 18-cent offering. "The money could have been everything in his or her pocket."

"It took some bravery, I think, to write that (note),...And for us, we acknowledge that individual gave out of his poverty proportionally a big deal," he explained, noting that his congregation was deeply affected by the gift.

According to WCNC, First United Methodist Church is located in uptown Charlotte, and is directly between a "homeless shelter in one direction [and] the big banks in the other." Every Sunday, the church offers breakfast to over 150 homeless people as part of their "Muffin Ministry."

"You're literally right in between two very different worlds," said Pastor Hamrick. "We are, and we see that. Sunday mornings we welcome a big crowd of people to come have breakfast with us. Some of them are coming from shelters." The church's "Muffin Ministry" may feed 150 on a given Sunday morning.

Pastor Hamrick said the church has no plans to search out the donor, but will instead "honor the dignity of the individual who made this gift."

He told WCNC. "But if that individual would step up it would be amazing because I have a feeling, there's been enough groundswell of support that this person could probably get some additional assistance. So I think there could be a happy ending to this."