27 Oct Day 17: Second Chance

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”

Matthew 6:20

A Hope Thrift Store

Every non-profit dreams of being fully funded. To be relieved of the pressure of the (gulp) “ask.” Our offices were on a main road in a good part of town, and we often received donations we could not use. Why not open a thrift store? It seemed to work. Then we got more strategic about it, actively soliciting donations. First there was one store. Then two. Then someone thought, what about people who are remodeling their homes? What do they do with their old cabinets or tiles? A larger space was rented, and another type of thrift store was born.

Our growth was not without pain. One late night we got a call from a pay phone. It was a street person who knew us well. He told us our thrift store had been leveled to the ground. And it was.

The high rise construction next door had weakened the dirt around our structure, and ours literally imploded, taking all the contents with it. After years of litigation, we learned that the builders actually wanted two more feet on which to build, and our landlord’s attorney admitted to being paid off. We are still awaiting a final settlement.

We now have five thrift stores in Campinas and a Starbucks-style coffeehouse. Together, they bring in a quarter of our annual budget in Brazil. Pretty amazing. Groups coming down have learned to bring extra suitcases filled with gently used clothes, jewelry, eyeglasses or even knick knacks. Any “imported” item brings a special price!

American Baptist Women of Pennsylvania and Delaware are raising funds to open our first thrift store in Vitória in 2020. We are already hunting for the perfect spot to hang our shingle bearing the very fitting name chosen for our thrift stores: “Second Chance.” I share more about this in this video.

Why do our thrift stores deserve to be featured in 30 Days of Prayer? Finances are one of the biggest stressors for everybody, board and staff alike. And raising more funds in Brazil is just good missiology. The giving cycle is also good—wealthier donors feel good about putting un-needed items to good use, and folks who are struggling get things they may not have been able to afford. The funding pays the bills and strengthens our autonomy. Win, win, win.

I confess, we spend a major amount of time worrying about this issue when we should have faith that the Lord will let the manna fall each day, in the amounts we need. Whether it is a check or a gently used pair of shoes, it is all a wonderful blessing. It provides for our children and helps relieve our stress—their anxious surrogate parents.

Today we want to thank God for all our generous contributors—those who bring us used items and those who invested in the development of our thrift stores—and boldly ask Him to continue to send us what we need.