BY BRENDA KIŠ
Contributing funds to help impoverished schoolchildren, church planters, or other overseas workers is wonderful. Donating food and blankets to local refugees not so far away from home is also a blessing. Volunteering time to help in some service activity for the impoverished or persecuted is life-changing. Praying for all these people is vital. Just how many ways are there to do something good for someone else? Mark and Lydie Regazzi, faithful ASAP contributors, thought of another one.
To celebrate Mark’s 70th birthday in January 2017, they decided to invite friends over to a full-course special dinner benefitting some of their dearly-beloved projects—Bibles for individuals and clean-water wells for drought-stricken communities. However, the twist was that their guests would decide how much to give and where the money would go.
Invitations went out to local friends in the Berrien Springs, Michigan, community where the Regazzis have lived and worked for nearly 40 years, Mark as a former religion professor at Andrews University and Lydie as a piano teacher in her studio. Seventy-six of their friends responded and converged on their home shortly after noon on January 15. Once inside, they were warmly welcomed and invited to pen the amount of their donations on small cards (no names requested) and deposit these in a nearby basket. Then they were free to roam through the rooms where numerous tables seating no more than eight people each had been set up and prepared for an Italian meal in honor of Mark’s ethnic roots. Catered by friend Sally Di Cicco, fine food rivaled the happy buzz of conversation among old and new friends from a variety of denominations.
In Mark’s after-dinner comments, he traced his family history from Italy to Berrien Springs and testified to the fun he’s had being a husband, dad, and grandfather. He emphasized the value of family and friendship, and partially attributed his energy at age 70 to lifestyle and daily exposure to God’s Word. In a surprise gesture, ASAP Director Julia O’Carey then presented Mark and Lydie with a framed collection of photos of wells and Bibles the Regazzi family recently donated. Afterwards, one woman approached Julia and said that she had never heard of ASAP. After Julia explained the various projects, the woman exclaimed, “I’m going to give five wells at $250 each in honor of each of my five grandchildren!”
This unusual birthday party netted $10,102.15 in pledges to various charities. It was a true community event drawing together people from many walks of life and making possible a corporate testimony of generosity to the less fortunate of the world.