Pay It Forward

At a Sunday morning service in August 2021, Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, surprised parishioners by giving each family in attendance an envelope containing $100. Lead Pastor Travis Eades said, “If you are in need, this is for you. But if that’s not you, then pay it forward and bless someone  only you know about.”

Oak Hills called it their “radical generosity offering,” and gave out 864 envelopes in total. They’ve been amazed at the impact the gift has had, which Eades says is still rippling through their church and community. 

“As a church, we are more aware of the needs around us and the joy of seeing the hope of Jesus in the places where God has uniquely placed us,” he says. “The envelopes empowered people and challenged them to look for an opportunity to bless someone in need.”

Since that week, the church has received phone calls and thank-you notes from people in the community who were helped. Many church members shared that they prayed for guidance regarding whom to help with the money. One person who works in a school used the money to help a grieving family. Another spent it on supplies to make hygiene bags to give to the homeless. Others helped co-workers, friends, family and even strangers in need; often, they invited the recipients to church at the same time.

One young woman who’d previously been assisted by the church’s monthly food distribution program came to a service at Oak Hills the week the envelopes were given out. She was a new mom, and that money helped her care for her baby. Now, she and her whole family attend church weekly.

Church members appreciated the opportunity to help people on a personal level. 

“We wanted to spread the hope of Jesus where we live, work, learn and play,” Eades says.