The One Stamp Wonder

Last week Thursday marked the first day of Julie and me raising financial support to sustain our endeavor as missionaries to South Africa. That morning, we hopped into “The Globe-Trotter,” a 1992 rag-top Chevrolet LeBaron, painted British-racing green. Its 3.3 liter V6 gets us from point A to point B successfully—given we don’t leave the lights on for a few minutes after turning the ignition off, resulting in a dead battery and a trip to Wally’s for a new one (happened this week)! 

So we made our way to the Post Office to mail our letters and inform our potential supporters about the journey we’re embarking on this year. We waited in line to buy exactly 53 stamps—just enough to pop all of our envelopes in the drop box. After making our purchase, we made our way to a worktable, split the stack of letters in two, and began stamping. 

We were (and still are) trusting God to stir their hearts for our ministry, so Julie, my faith-filled fiancé, started praying aloud for God to provide for us as we stepped out in faith for His Kingdom’s purpose. Meanwhile, I was having a private chat with the Big Guy. In the moment, I sensed a spirit of anticipation and remember praying, “Ok Lord, this is it. It’s all You from here.” I mean, when was it ever not Him? 

As Julie finished her prayer an elderly man approached us and asked, “Do y’all have an extra stamp I could buy off ya?” And completely focused on the task at hand, she responded, “I’m sorry. We don’t have any extras.” 

I commented that we could’ve spared a single stamp by hand-delivering one of the envelopes (such as the one we mailed to our current residence). In a matter of seconds, Julie considered my relational perspective and agreed.

We want to love people well, and like our friend Johnny said be other day, “be faithful with the small things.” We want to go to war with self-absorption and to make sacrifices for the people around us. (You’ll soon realize why I say, “Never under value the true value of an object… even if it’s just a postage stamp.”)

As soon as Julie agreed we should grant the old man’s wish, I looked down at my stack and was shocked at my count: 3 envelopes, 4 stamps. I immediately grabbed the extra stamp and went to find our guy. 

I pushed through a glass door and was met by a terribly long line of people waiting to be serviced. I hollered, “Who’s the man who asked for a stamp?” No one answered me. I thought that perhaps my South African accent caught everyone off guard, so I tightened up vocally and asked once again who needed a stamp. (Imagine me with the stamp on my left index finger, waving it around like a crazy person.) Much to my dismay, no one responded, except for a few grumpy bystanders who offered me weird looks. 

As I started walking back out of the purchasing area, I felt rather deflated. A man “asked for clothes” and “we did not clothe him.” The Word says what we do to “the least of these” we also do to The Lord. I thought about how I would be told, “depart from me, for I never knew you” when I reached the pearly gates of heaven (Matthew 25:40-43). Preeeaaach! Then all of a sudden—redemption. Just before coming to the exit, I crossed paths with Gale Winton, a 78 year-old lady standing at the very back of the very long line. And guess what she was waiting to buy? A single stamp. 

With my stamp still hanging on my index finger, I asked if she perhaps needed it. Her face lit up as she told me it was exactly what she needed. Then she asked me how much I wanted in return. I told her it was for free and that I would be delighted for her to take it. Gale used the words “glory” and “blessing” in the same sentence, and I knew the situation was redeemed.

Gale stamped her envelope then walked over to Julie and me. She pointed to her piece of mail, a donation addressed to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and joyfully shared with us about the importance of giving. “Giving is always better than receiving, and I gladly receive your stamp!” Then she walked off singing some song about how our God is an on-time God. 

Our $0.49 gift sparked a faith in Miss Gale big enough to move the Great Smoky Mountains into the ocean. Thankfully she didn’t move the mountains, but instead, moved our hearts violently when she scratched around in her purse, pulled out a ten dollar bill, and handed it to us. She made the very first donation to Yebo Life and to Julie and me as we set out to live all-out and on-edge for God. 

The funny thing was, after I gave Miss Gale the stamp I walked up to Julie, who immediately alerted me that I missed an envelope during my stamping process and that we never actually had a spare stamp. Honestly though, we always had a spare stamp. They were all spares all along… because none of them were ours to begin with.

A few things I took away from this experience:

  • Give sacrificially. Even when you think you’re not making a difference, you are. 
  • God redeems all things, and His plan is perfect.
  • God is never late and is always on time. 

Gale “One Stamp” Winton touched our lives last Thursday, and my hope is that she touched yours too.

Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.

Tony