14 Talents: Kingdom Assignment multiplies good works
September 27, 2021
“Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”
– Matthew 25:21
A well is being dug in South Sudan to bring fresh water to the people living there, with the promise of more wells to come.
A poor, malnourished family in Mexico has received money for food and health care.
A seminarian in India will have the cost of his education and formation paid for.
A student whose family could no longer afford tuition at St. Columbkille School returned to school this year, thanks to anonymous donors.
These works are just a sampling of the initiatives that 14 people helped bring about after stepping out in faith and accepting an assignment last spring to use $100 to help bring about the Kingdom of God.
A lot of prayer, discernment and a display of God’s well-attested multiplication skills followed.
But first, a look at how it all started:
The Kingdom project began as most grand ideas do – with divine inspiration – this time sparked by a book that caught a deacon’s eye and Jesus’ parable of the talents.
The deacon, David Krueger of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion, had no idea where the seed money would come from. But God provided, beginning with a $30 check that normally wouldn’t have come his way.
From that $30, the money grew bit by bit, mostly from odd jobs Deacon Krueger took on.
A few months and many prayers later, he launched “The Kingdom Assignment” (inspired by the book of the same name by Denny and Leesa Bellisi) at a eucharistic holy hour May 18 at St. Columbkille Church in Papillion, days before Pentecost.
The participants were asked to report back at another holy hour Sept. 7, the vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Other results from the Kingdom experiment that were revealed that night:
A wooden table, crafted by one of the participants with an inlaid rosary and miraculous medal, will adorn the entryway at St. Columbkille Church; costs were covered for an Alpha group, allowing young adults to explore their faith; parents are getting materials and support to bring their adult children back to the Catholic faith; kitchens are being equipped for people with developmental disabilities; the “Culture of Pentecost” will be furthered through Ablaze ministry; people are feeding military families in need; and a couple will hand out anonymously $100 a month to various people in need.
The Kingdom Assignment started humbly with the first $30, but it reaped more than $30,000 in return, Deacon Krueger estimated.
That’s a conservative estimate, he said. Participants are continuing to ask for donations and are contributing their own money into their projects.
“I guess $30 to over $30,000 is a decent return,” the deacon said, but more important is the spiritual return.
“People were ignited. People were on fire,” said Ken Landolt, who witnessed the participants’ testimony and messaged his friends who couldn’t attend the Sept. 7 holy hour.
“You could tell that when they told people they were spreading ‘the good news,’ but it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable,” he wrote. “They were true disciples and didn’t even realize they were disciples.
“Humble and kind,” is how Landolt, of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, went on to describe the participants. “The word anonymous was used a lot.”
Deacon Krueger said he was struck by how much prayer went into each assignment.
Most of the participants didn’t know what they were getting into when they ventured forward in May. Praying before the Eucharist and a large screen image of St. Peter stepping out of a boat toward Jesus, they were asked: Who among us will step out of the boat? Who will come forward?
Some jumped from their pew. Others approached more tentatively.
On their way toward the altar they were instructed to pick up an envelope, which had been brightly decorated by young students at St. Columbkille School. Many of the volunteers appeared stunned to find the money inside.
Then their mission was explained.
Some participants were inspired to get right to work. Others agonized for weeks over what to do with the $100, praying to the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary for guidance.
Bob Roegge, of St. Columbkille Parish, finished his assignment in just a few days. Not coincidentally, Roegge said, days before the holy hour in May, his granddaughter told him of a classmate who would not be returning to the school in the fall because of financial difficulties.
“So that caused me to think a little bit,” Roegge said.
He approached the principal at St. Columbkille, Brandi Redburn, and learned there were several students whose families could no longer afford tuition, which was $2,550 per student. But registration was closing, and he needed to move quickly.
Roegge put the $100 he received toward tuition and asked others to help. For three days he posted a sign-up sheet in the narthex of St. Columbkille Church for those at the morning weekday Mass to join his cause. In that time he raised $2,850.
“I found there were some very, very generous people in our congregation,” said Roegge, who insisted on not knowing who benefited from his project.
WEEKS OF PRAYER
Peggy Wright, Joyce Stranglen and Jeanette Sterba and the other women of their prayer group at St. Columbkille spent weeks praying for what to do with the group’s $100.
“We spent a good month, if not two, waiting to be hit over the head by the Holy Spirit,” Stranglen said. “And when nothing happened, we thought maybe he’s waiting for us to do something.”
So the women began brainstorming about people in the community who could use some help, throwing out several ideas. But one stood out: an organization called Sheltering Tree that builds affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.
The women found out that a Sheltering Tree community, with two apartment buildings, is being constructed in Papillion. After learning how residents like to gather in the kitchens for smoothies or fresh-baked cookies, the women decided that they wanted to fully equip the two kitchens with pots, pans, towels, baking sheets, blenders, vacuums – the works.
Now they’re fundraising for that cause.
Kathy Pflug, of St. Thomas More Parish in Omaha, also didn’t immediately discern what to do. She explained her dilemma via Zoom at the Sept. 7 holy hour because she and her husband, Marty, were both quarantined at home after he contracted COVID-19.
Both appeared on a screen as they spoke about their separate projects.
Earlier in May, standing at the foot of the altar with $100 in her hand was “terrifying to my introverted self,” Kathy Pflug acknowledged, “but exciting because I knew I would encounter Jesus and he would let me know what he wanted me to do with the money.
“Day after day I fretted and prayed,” she said. “I felt our Blessed Mother would intercede for me and that whatever it was I was supposed to do would be something close to my heart.”
For many years, the mother of 10 said, something had weighed heavily on her heart: “the anguish, despair and fear connected with some of my children being away from God and his Church. I knew that many, many other parents, grandparents and family members also are suffering.”
One day, as she was walking, she prayed the Rosary, asking Mary if this was the direction to go for her assignment.
“I didn’t get very far into the Rosary when a friend, whom I hadn’t seen in months, stopped her car and called my name. As we talked, she said it must be a God thing that we were talking, because she never drives up that street. As we caught up on our lives and our kids, she commented that I had been a help to her when her kids were struggling with their faith. I took this as confirmation from our Lady that I was to continue to help others who are struggling with the same issues as me.”
Pflug used her $100 to purchase copies of a book she wished she’d had years earlier, “Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church” by Brandon Vogt. She and her husband are now starting a group at St. Thomas More for parents and others that focuses on praise and thankfulness, “knowing that God has our loved ones in his hands and under his watchful eye.”
She said she hopes the group will flourish and spread to other parishes.
The Kingdom assignment continues with the many ongoing projects, and with new recruits as well. Two more people stepped forward Sept. 7, one who insisted on using his own $100 as seed money.
God’s work that was accomplished through those who stepped forward is counter to what most people would propose, Deacon Krueger said.
Looking at a list of possible projects, a committee or group might say: “These are all great ideas. Now let’s be realistic and see which ones we can do,” he said.
“The Holy Spirit never got an MBA … but simply wants to work through his people and to do things for them, and to grow and to do more.”